A group of Vitamins from group B play a very important role in our bodies. Guarding our immunity, supporting nervous system and psychological well-being and improving our energy levels, the eight vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 — play an important role in keeping our bodies running like well-oiled machines.
We can see them often listed on cereal packaging, cosmetics or even energy drinks, but what do they do exactly for our bodies? Read on to find out about the multitude of health benefits these micro-nutrients bring along.
Why we need B Vitamins?
Vitamins B help convert our food into fuel, allowing us to stay energized throughout the day. While many of the following vitamins work in tandem, each has its own specific benefits — from promoting healthy skin and hair to preventing memory loss or migraines.
The B vitamins play important roles in energy production, the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA, and carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. They may also help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and can be important in the maintenance of healthy skin and muscle tone.
There are eight B vitamins, each with their own purpose and role within the body. This class of vitamins is water-soluble and important for cell metabolism, regulation of hormonal balance and the formation of red blood cells. All the B vitamins we need should be available through our diet.
Human body does not store B vitamins well, and the need for them is increased by stress, smoking, use of alcohol and drugs, unhealthy dietary practices, shift work, illness, and demanding travel schedules. Because those vitamins can’t be stored in the body, they need to be supplied every day by the diet or regular supplementation.
Which vitamins come in a Vitamin B Complex?
Though B vitamins share similar names, they are chemically distinct and often coexist in the same foods. In general, dietary supplements containing all eight are referred to as a vitamin B complex:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid)
- Vitamin B12(various cobalamins)
The gaps in the number sequence of the B vitamins, eg. B4, B8 and B10 vitamin, is the result of substances once being called vitamins, but now being understood not to be vitamins.
Deficiencies of any of these can lead to serious health problems. Certain groups, such as older adults and pregnant women, need larger amounts of some types of vitamin B. Certain conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, HIV, and misuse of alcohol can result in poor absorption of vitamin B. Symptoms of a deficiency depend on what type of vitamin B you lack. They can range from fatigue and confusion to anemia, a compromised immune system or skin rashes also can occur.
Health benefits of Vitamins B
It is common knowledge that B vitamins contribute to normal energy yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, which simply means they give you more energy, but what do individual vitamins do exactly? Each vitamin brings a multitude of benefits for the body:
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
– breaks down and releases energy from food – it’s necessary for key metabolic processes.
– keep the nervous system healthy and contributes to normal psychological function, assisting in nerve transmission.
Thiamin acts as a cofactor for the metabolism of carbohydrates, helping turn starch and sugar into the energy our bodies need. It also influences a variety of physiologic functions, including nervous system and muscle functioning, healthy digestion and more. In food, thiamine can be found in peas, fresh and dried fruit, eggs and wholegrain breads.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
– keeps the skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy
– aids the body in releasing energy from food
– helps maintain proper eyesight
– contributes to reduction of fatigue and tiredness
– works as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals (particles in the body that damage cells). Because of that it may also prevent signs of early aging and the development of heart disease.
Good sources of riboflavin include: milk, eggs, rice. UV light can destroy riboflavin, so ideally these foods should be kept out of direct sunlight.
Deficiencies in thiamine and riboflavin generally don’t pose a problem in developed countries. This is due to the fact that many foods, such as milk and whole-grain cereals, are fortified with the vitamins. It can become an issue with people who misuse alcohol, however, presenting symptoms such as confusion and cracks along the sides of the mouth.
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
– helps release energy from the foods we eat
– keeps the nervous system and skin healthy
– aids proper digestion and healthy appetite
– reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers harmful cholesterol while raising good cholesterol
There are two forms of niacin – nicotinic acid and nicotinamide – both of which are found in food, mostly meat, fatty fish, wheat flour, eggs, milk. A lack of niacin can cause digestive issues, such as nausea and abdominal cramps. Severe deficiency may also cause mental confusion.
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)
– helps to release energy from food
– is vital in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
– is responsible for the production of sex and stress-related hormones including testosterone.
– promotes healthy skin with the ability to reduce signs of skin aging such as redness and skin spots
The vitamin’s name derives from the Greek word pantothen, meaning “from everywhere,” reflecting the fact that small amounts of pantothenic acid can be found in nearly every food – practically all meats and vegetables. Pantothenic acid deficiency is a rare but serious condition that can cause numbness and burning sensations in the hands and feet as well as headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. Since pantothenic acid is involved in a wide variety of biological functions, deficiencies of the vitamin may not be easily identified or may be masked by other nutrient deficiencies.
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
– allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food
– helps form haemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body
– supports the body in fighting infections, by strengthening immune system.
– Pregnant and breastfeeding women need it to help their babies’ brains develop normally.
As almost all the other vitamins from group B, Pyridoxine, contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, however, it also contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity, by helping the body produce serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine, a stress hormone, thus becoming the major player in mood and sleep patterns.
Some studies suggest even that vitamin B6 can reduce inflammation for people with conditions like rheumatioid arthritis.
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods, including: meat, fish, wholegrain products, eggs and some vegetables. Insufficient amounts of B-6 can result in anaemia as well as skin disorders, such as a rash or cracks around the mouth.
Biotin (Vitamin B7)
– Biotin is needed in very small amounts to help the body break down fat
– Due to its great influence on maintaining skin and hair, Biotin, known as the ‘beauty vitamin’ is quite a common ingredient in many cosmetics and beauty supplements, however, its effects extend far beyond maintaining nice looks. Biotin has vital metabolic functions.
– Biotin is a co-factor and many enzymes do not work properly without it, increasing the risks of serious complications, including varied diseases of the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system.
The bacteria that live naturally in the bowels are able to make biotin, so it’s not necessary to get large additional amounts of biotin from the diet. Biotin is found in a wide range of foods, but only at very low levels. Symptoms of biotin deficiency, although rare, might include dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, and fatigue. Daily requirements for this vitamin are relatively small, food sources of biotin are abundant, and the body efficiently recycles much of the biotin it has already used, which is why our Vitamin B complex supplement provides only 50% of the daily RDA, as it is entirely sufficient for most consumers.
Folate (Vitamin B9)
– it helps the body form healthy red blood cells and regulate homocysteine levels, reducing the risk of a heart disease or a stroke.
– supports immunity, contributes to normal psychological function and help reduce tiredness and fatigue.
– folate reduces the risk of central neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies – a lack of folic acid could lead to folate deficiency anaemia. In addition to that it also contributes to maternal tissue growth during pregnancy, making it recommended diet addition for all women at this stage of their lives.
Folate is found naturally in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form, often found in fortified, processed foods. Folic acid can be easily found in most green vegetables such as spinach, brussel sprouts or broccoli, which should be sufficient for an average adult requiring 200mcg/day, who follows a balanced diet. However, pregnant women or those trying for a baby, are currently advised to take 400mcg folic acid supplement daily, to ensure healthy growth of the baby at the early development stages.
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
– helps with growth and formation of red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy, by protecting nerve cells and supporting production of neurotransmitters.
– supports the release energy from food, and promotes immunity
– promotes the folic acid
Vitamin B12 is commonly found in meat and dairy products, which is why those following vegan diets might need to supplement it. However, the elderly, and those who are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from the intestinal tract are also at risk, as well as those who are pregnant or who suffer hemorrhage or intestinal disorders. A lack of vitamin B12 could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may present themselves slowly and may not be recognized for some time. They include: tingling in the feet and hands, extreme fatigue, weakness, irritability or depression.
Who should watch their Vitamin B intake?
Vitamins from group B are extremely versatile and everyone needs them in their diet. However, due to problems in absorption and increased needs for energy production, Vitamin B complex tablets may be especially suitable for:
- Athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen
- Those with hectic lifestyles
- Vegetarians and vegans
- The over 50s
- Those wanting an extra nutritional boost
- Pregnant women or those trying to conceive
Get the products from renowned supplier
Vitamin B complex available at HTC Health, includes all 8 essential B vitamins that play a truly remarkable role in the body, essential for helping to maintain all round health including energy levels, hormonal regulation, good hair and skin health, and a properly functioning nervous system. We sell Vitamin B Complex, in a form of a tiny tablet that covers 100% or more of the RDA of each group B vitamin included, except for Biotin (50%). The tablets are vegan and offer a very convenient way of ensuring the right intake of all these crucial nutrients.
*Claims for food supplements mentioned in this article are not meant for general public, but are purely for information of food supplement industry professionals. Please note that the claims are not authorised by European Food Safety Authority for use on labels or marketing materials.