The B – vitamins are a group of water soluble vitamins that are vital for a healthy and energetic body. These vitamins are fantastic for helping to ease migraines, depression, and PMS. Additionally, getting enough B – vitamins in your diet is extremely important because these vitamins help your body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Obtaining these vitamins from food sources is preferable because the body has trouble recognizing synthetic versions of B – vitamins. Each B – vitamin has a specific function in the body, and to fully understand the importance of these vitamins, you need to know how each B – vitamin helps you.
Also known as vitamin B1, Thiamin is one of the B – vitamins that is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates. Without thiamin your body would have a very difficult time breaking down carbohydrates into glucose. Aside from breaking down carbohydrates, thiamine is also needed for proper functioning of the nervous system because it helps with the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Thiamine deficiency can be very serious and can result in several debilitating diseases. Beriberi is one such disease. It is characterized by anemia, muscular atrophy, paralysis, and muscle spasms. Fortunately, this can be reversed with high doses of thiamin. To prevent deficiency, you should make sure you eat plenty of whole grains, leafy green vegetables, brown rice, and nuts in order to get the needed 1.1 milligrams.
Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is another vitamin that is found in whole grains. You can also get riboflavin from milk, meat, and even peas. Like most of the B – vitamins, riboflavin assists in breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and protein so your body can utilize these necessary macronutrients. It is also essential for maintaining skin and mucous membranes. Because it is so important for skin, a deficiency can lead to skin disorders and inflammation of the nose and mouth. Since none of these problems are desirable, make sure you get the required 1.1 milligrams of riboflavin every day.
For healthy skin, nerves, and gastrointestinal function you need 1.4 milligrams of niacin, vitamin B3, every day. Getting enough niacin shouldn’t be too difficult because it can be found in meat, fish, milk, eggs, brewer’s yeast, legumes, potatoes, and peanuts. However, if you don’t get enough niacin, over time a deficiency can result. In its most severe form, a niacin deficiency can result in pellagra, which is a serious disease resulting in diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and even death. It is rare for people in the modern world to have a niacin deficiency, which I am thankful for.
4. Pantothenic Acid
Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is a B – vitamin that is found in many foods and is produced by the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, which means deficiency is very rare. Although deficiency is rare, you still want to make sure you get the needed 5 milligrams each day. Working in conjunction with biotin and folic acid, pantothenic acid is needed to break down macronutrients, and it also is critical for many biochemical reactions that take place in the body.
Like pantothenic acid, a deficiency in pyridoxine, vitamin B6, is rare. Yet, when deficiency does occur, you can experience skin disorders, neuropathy, confusion, poor coordination, and insomnia. Unlike some of the other B – vitamins, you can get too much pyridoxine, which causes nerve damage. However, you would need very high doses for this to happen. Depending on your age and sex, you will need between 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams of pyridoxine to help break down macronutrients and produce red blood cells.
6. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that maintains nerve sheaths, synthesizes and repairs DNA, makes red blood cells, and metabolizes macronutrients. Although vitamin B12 is stored in the liver in amounts that can maintain a person for years, deficiency is more common than you would think. To properly be absorbed, vitamin B12 needs to be combined with a mucoprotein that is made in the stomach; however, more people than you would think are lacking in this mucoprotein. Aside from deficiency resulting from absorption, vegetarians can also become deficient because vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. To avoid the neurological problems that come with a deficiency, you either need to consume animal products or take a supplement. Some people even find they do best with B12 shots.
7. Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B – vitamin that is needed for synthesizing DNA and forming hemoglobin, the compound in red blood cells that transports oxygen. Working with pantothenic acid and biotin, folic acid is also needed for many biochemical reactions in the body. If you are planning on getting pregnant, you want to make sure you are consuming ample amounts of green vegetables, whole grains, and nutritional yeast since deficiency can result in neural tube defects. However, you should avoid mega dosing because very high doses of folic acid can result in convulsions and disrupt zinc absorption. One additional piece of information to be aware of regarding folic acid is that it is heat sensitive, which means very gently cooked or raw foods are your best sources to ward off the anemia, poor growth, and mouth irritation that comes with deficiency.
Biotin is well known for making hair and nails beautiful. It is found in cauliflower, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, peanuts, beef liver, and egg yolks. While biotin is found in egg yolks, it is important to know that eating a lot of egg whites can result in deficiency because the avidin present in egg whites prevents absorption. Steering clear of too many egg whites and getting 30 milligrams of biotin a day will help ward off deficiency.
These 8 B – vitamins are all very important for your health, and you want to make sure you getting plenty of them by eating a balanced diet. If you do choose to supplement, make sure your supplement comes from a whole food source, since synthetic vitamins are not well recognized by the body. Whether you choose to use a supplement or not, when you are getting all your B – vitamins you will notice your energy increase and you will feel great. Do you supplement with B – vitamins?