B vitamins – Why are they so important?Print
Thought initially to be a single compound, it is now known that vitamin B is, in fact, several different vitamins.
Many B vitamins are used in the body individually or in combination with enzymes to help release energy from carbohydrates, fat, and protein. B vitamin coenzymes are crucial to the metabolic pathways that generate the energy needed by every cell in the body.
All the B vitamins are water soluble and are found in every form of living tissue, therefore vital to our well-being. They can improve our moods as they contribute towards the normal functioning of the brain.
Never underestimate the importance of B vitamins as they are the ones that keep our bodies and minds working efficiently.
The various forms of vitamin B are known both by their number and an alternative name to define benefits:
- B1 – Thiamin: supports the generation of energy from carbohydrates and protein, is involved in RNA & DNA production as well as supports nerve function.
Sources of B1: pork, ham, dark green leafy vegetables, fortified whole-grain cereals and baked goods, wheat germ, enriched rice, green pea, lentils and nuts such as almonds and pecans.
- B2 – Riboflavin: Supports the energy production in your body and assists several antioxidant enzymes.
Sources of B2: Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese are rich in riboflavin. Asparagus, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs and fortified cereals also supply significant amounts of riboflavin to the diet.
- B3 – Niacin: Niacin plays an important role in energy transfer reactions in the metabolism of glucose, fat, and alcohol, and supports healthy cholesterol levels.
Sources of B3: Chicken, turkey, salmon and other fish including canned tuna packed in water are all excellent natural sources of niacin
- B5 – Pantothenic acid: Assists in the release of energy from food as well as in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Sources of B5: Yogurt and avocado are both excellent sources of pantothenic acid
- B6 – Pyridoxine: Supports the growth of new red blood cells and assist in a variety of metabolic reactions.
Sources: poultry, seafood, bananas, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, potatoes, and fortified cereals.
- B7 – Biotin: Helps convert food into energy and supports hair, skin, and nails.
Sources of B7: Liver and egg yolks are the richest dietary sources of biotin
- B9 – Folic acid: Folate promotes red blood cell formation and helps the cells make and maintain DNA.
Sources: Leafy greens such as spinach and turnip greens and other fresh fruits and vegetables are all excellent sources of folate.
- B12 – Cobalamin: assists red blood cell production and supports nerve function.
- Sources: shellfish, such as clams, mussels and crab, fish, beef, and soy products
Since B vitamins are water soluble and are therefore not stored in your body, daily replenishment is essential. Stress, certain medications, and alcoholic beverages can also deplete the body’s B vitamin reserves.