Vitamin B is one of the most famous of the vitamins, yet we know very little of its fame, its family, it benefits, or its importance to health and wellbeing.
Vitamin B is in fact a band of eight distinct vitamins, B1 – thiamine, B2 – riboflavin, B3 – Niacin, B5 – Pantathoenic acid, B6 – Pyridoxine, B7 – Biotin, B9 – folic acid, B12 – Cyanocobalamin, known collectively as Vitamin B complex. B complex is soluble in water, thus the many effervescent versions of its supplements.
B & ME
B complex works in tandem to support the health of many of the body’s systems. B complex enhances immune function, promotes proper functioning of the nervous system, maintains metabolic rate, increases mitosis and meiosis, and assists in the prevention of depression and cardio vascular disease.
Thiamine is essential to brain function, particularly in the realms of concentration, focus, and emotional health and wellbeing. Deficiency in Vitamin B1 results in fatigue, psychosis, muscle weakness, numbness in the extremities, lack of physical coordination, nerve damage, brain damage and even death. Thiamine is found in its greatest quantities in enriched flours, grains, and wheatgerm.
Riboflavin is important for the production of red blood cells, control, growth and production of antibodies, and the utilization of oxygen by the body. Additionally Vitamin B2 assists in fat absorption and excretion, in the health of the skin, nails and hair, and in the maintenance of good eyesight. Riboflavin is found most commonly in dairy products including milk and cheese.
Niacin is greatly important in digestive system function, normal appetite, and the health of skin and nerves. Research also suggest that increased dosages of Vitamin B3 reduces LDL cholesterol, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, and raises HDL cholesterol, the ‘good’ cholesterol, which prevents hardening of artery walls. Sources of niacin include meat, poultry fish, peanuts, milk and eggs.
The main importance of pantathoenic acid is its role in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for energy. It has also been linked to the effective treatment of nerve damage, skin problems, and breathing problems. This member of B complex is found in peas, beans, whole grains, fish and lean meat.
Vitamin B6 is of critical importance to the breakdown of protein, and the effective use of resulting amino acids; pyridoxine also assists in maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. Further, under conditions of depleted calories, it facilitates the obtaining of energy from carbohydrates.
Biotin assists in brain function, and helps the body with the conversion of protein to energy. Research also indicates that vitamin B6 works with B9 and B12 to reduce blood homocysteine levels, and thus, the risk of heart attack. Biotin is a constituent of poultry, fish, whole grains, oats, soybeans and bananas.
Folic acid, or B9 is is important to the production and maintenance of new cells, which is particularly essential during both pregnancy and infancy when cell growth is exceedingly rapid. Green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, liver and dried beans and peas are excellent sources of vitamin B9.
B12 works with B9 in the production of healthy red blood cells. Cyanocobalamin also aids in the health of the central nervous system. There is but one source of B12, animals, whether it is fish, poultry, milk or eggs.
Deficiency of vitamin B complex leads to many health risks and disabilities. However, a healthy and well balanced diet is the key to sufficient intake of all members of the vitamin B complex. Supplementation of this vitamin is unnecessary since adequate quantities are obtained from food, once well balanced.