Essentially, B-complex vitamins are a group of nutrients that are responsible for a myriad of functions in the body. And although these vitamins can be derived from a well-balanced diet, there are instances when one might need to supplement themselves to meet the required amounts of B-complex vitamins. The is especially true if the person is affected by a number of factors such as dietary choices, medical conditions, age, pregnancy, genetics and medication.
What Are B-Complex Vitamins
In a nutshell, B complex vitamins consist of all eight B vitamins. The characteristics of B vitamins are that it is water-soluble, which basically means that it will not take up space in the body—the body will not store them. This is the main reason why your daily diet must be able to supplement you with adequate amounts of B-complex vitamins. A typical mix of B-complex vitamins includes B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12 vitamins, all of which can be found in various types of foods, including meat, beans, peas, fortified grains and leafy greens. Your body essentially utilises these foods to provide the body with energy and for the optimal function of the body and cells. B-complex vitamins are responsible for forming red blood cells and for the overall maintenance of the body’s health.
Benefits of B-Complex Vitamins
Thiamine is essential for the regulating metabolism by converting nutrients and carbohydrates from food into energy for the body. It is a crucial vitamin for the health of the nervous system, muscles and brain. It is vital for the development, growth and function of cells in the body. The richest source of B1 are sunflower seeds and pork, but you vitamin B1 can also be derived from trout, mussels, black beans and tuna.
Much like thiamine, riboflavin aids in converting food into energy. However, riboflavin also functions as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are important for negating the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. It works with other B vitamins, for instance, it converts B6 into a functional vitamin and aids in the production of niacin. The vitamin is necessary for red blood cell production and it maintains the nervous system, keeps the skin and eyes healthy. The best sources of B2 are dairy products, beef liver, portobello mushrooms, chicken and almonds.
Niacin supplies the body with energy by converting food in the body. It is important for enzymes to function properly; essentially niacin is responsible for aiding the body to absorb and utilise other B vitamins. This in turn also helps to maintain and repair DNA. Niacin is needed for the production of hormones and ensures the optimal function of the skin, nervous system and the digestive system. Some common sources of niacin are fish, eggs, chicken, lamb, peanuts and rice.
Pantothenic Acid (B5)
Vitamin B5 is necessary for breaking down fats and carbohydrates for energy. Additionally, it also plays an important role in the production of hormones in the neurotransmitters and adrenal glands. Pantothenic acid aids the body to absorb and utilise other vitamins such as riboflavin as well. Most importantly, vitamin B5 is crucial for red blood cell and production. Avocados, fortified cereals, potatoes and legumes are good sources of vitamin B5.
Pyridoxine not only converts food (carbohydrates) into glycogen but it is also needed for the body to use and store protein. This stored energy resides in the liver and the muscles. Interestingly enough, pyridoxine plays a key role in regulating more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body. Additionally, the vitamin aids in the formation and production of haemoglobin, neurotransmitters and hormones that are responsible for affecting our moods and regulating our body clock. To meet your requirement of this vitamin, include more tuna, chicken breast, potatoes and fruits into your regular diet.
B7 is responsible for converting nutrients in the food into energy and for the production of fatty acids. Fatty acids are essential for supporting the skin’s natural oil barrier. It is also crucial for hydrating the skin, keeping it plump and youthful-looking. Biotin promotes cell growth and supports hair and bone health. The best sources of biotin are egg yolk, whole grain, sardines, broccoli, spinach.
Folic Acid (B9)
Folic acid is necessary for the body to produce red blood cells, it aids in the production of cells and maintains the DNA in the body. Folic acid is also important for pregnant women as it reduces the risk of birth defects in the spine and brain. Spinach, brussels sprouts, asparagus, dark leafy greens and salmon are great sources of vitamin B9.
Cobalamin is required for the formation and production of red blood cells in the body. It also plays a significant role in keeping the nervous system and the red blood cells healthy. Another essential function of vitamin B12 is its ability to metabolise protein in the body. Food sources that are rich in vitamin B12 include eggs, milk, chicken, fish, clam and other shellfish.
The Bottom Line
B-complex vitamins are necessary for the optimal function of the cells and hormones; the complex combination of vitamins that boost the overall health and prevent a number of health issues and ailments. However, before you consume copious amounts of foods rich in B-complex vitamins, remember that moderation is key! Maintain a healthy and varied diet that includes adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fibre and other essential nutrients for your body.