B Vitamins — The Benefits of the “B Team”

Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty? Perhaps you’re not handling stress as well as you normally do? Or you have brain fog? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may not be getting enough B vitamins in your diet.

You can think of the B vitamins as a team of super-athletes working together in your body to keep you energized and healthy. Also called the B-complex vitamins, these nutritional superstars are involved in hundreds of cellular processes.

Although they are found in a diverse array of foods, they’re water-soluble, which means that they’re not stored in the body and, when taken in excess, are excreted in the urine. That’s why it’s critical to consume your B vitamins every day in your food or in supplement form.

Team Players

While each of the B vitamins are essential for good health, like in every team sport, in order for each to be successful they depend on the performance of their other teammates. They don’t fly solo, rather they join forces, interact, and help each other get absorbed or processed.

One of the dynamic duos on the B team is vitamins B12 and folate (B9). They work together to support DNA synthesis and cell replication. They also collaborate to keep your heart healthy by preventing the build-up of a detrimental compound called homocysteine. Another important aspect of their relationship is that folate depends on B12 to be absorbed and utilized.

An interesting fact about this vitamin pair is that they come from very different food sources – B12 occurs naturally in animal-based foods like meat, eggs, and milk, while sources of folate are mostly plant-based such as leafy greens and legumes. For this reason, vegetarians or vegans might not get enough B12 in their diet, which can then lead to folate deficiency since folate needs B12 to be absorbed. A solution to this dilemma is taking a high-quality, vegan B-complex supplement.

Each player on the B team has their own role to play, but many share similar functions such as helping to break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in our food into energy. Several B vitamins aid in the formation of red blood cells, while others are needed for the production of DNA and a healthy nervous system. Here is a list of each of the B-complex vitamins and what they do in our bodies.

Types of B Vitamins

Thiamin (B1)

Thiamin is vital for maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. It plays an important part in the metabolism of carbohydrates into energy and also supports healthy immune, digestive, and heart function.

Good sources of thiamin include:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Red meat
  • Whole grains
  • Egg yolks
  • Legumes
  • Seeds & nuts

Thiamin deficiency can occur in people who have a poor diet or are heavy drinkers of alcohol since alcohol interferes with the absorption of the vitamin. Numerous health disorders can be caused by insufficient thiamin such as beriberi, a disease characterized by difficulty walking, loss of sensation in the hands and feet, and paralysis of the lower legs.

Riboflavin (B2)

Riboflavin is important for maintaining the health of our skin and mucous membranes (like the lining of our gut). It’s a key nutrient for keeping the cornea of our eyes healthy, promotes antioxidant recycling in our bodies, and supports a healthy immune system. It also acts as a coenzyme to breakdown fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy.

Foods that contain riboflavin are:

  • Dairy products
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Wild rice

People who do not consume milk products may be more prone to an insufficiency of riboflavin. A deficiency of the vitamin may cause skin problems, like seborrheic dermatitis, as well as inflammation of the tissue lining around the nose and mouth.

Niacin (B3)

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is required by over 200 enzymes to perform their tasks and is the most important B vitamin for supporting energy production from the foods we eat. Additional benefits include supporting healthy digestion and metabolism by promoting the function of nerves and upholding balanced blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

All protein-containing foods are rich in niacin, including:

  • Meat & fish
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Mushrooms

Not getting enough niacin in your diet can cause a disease called pellagra. It’s most common among malnourished people or those suffering from alcoholism, since alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb niacin. The primary symptoms of pellagra are referred to as the three D’s — dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis, which can lead to the fourth D, death, if left untreated.

High doses of niacin are commonly prescribed as a treatment to improve cholesterol levels since it can boost levels of good HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides. There are side effects associated with these high doses, though, such as flushing of the skin due to dilating blood vessels, itching, headaches, and nausea.

Pantothenic Acid (B5)

Pantothenic acid is particularly important for healthy hormone production and overall growth. Like other B vitamins, it’s needed to transform carbohydrates and fats into useable energy and for red blood cell production. It enhances stamina and supports a healthy mood by keeping the production of neurotransmitters flowing.

This B vitamin can be found in nearly every food group, which is where it gets its name. Pantothenic comes from the Greek word pantothen, which means “from everywhere.”

Rich sources of pantothenic acid include:

  • Meat
  • Egg yolk
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage family vegetables like broccoli & kale
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Legumes

Since such a wide variety of foods contain pantothenic acid, deficiency is extremely rare.

Pyridoxine (B6)

Since pyridoxine is abundant in many foods, a deficiency is rare except in individuals suffering from alcohol addiction, or those with certain kidney and autoimmune conditions. Insufficient vitamin B6 can also negatively impact the skin, the central and peripheral nervous system, and sleep quality.

The following foods are good sources of pyridoxine:

  • Meat, fish & shellfish
  • Legumes like chickpeas
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fruit like bananas, papayas & oranges
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Brown rice

Since pyridoxine is abundant in many foods, a deficiency is rare except in alcoholics, where it is common. People with kidney disease or certain autoimmune disorders may also be at risk for deficiency. Insufficient vitamin B6 causes skin disorders, problems with the nervous system, confusion, poor coordination, and insomnia.

Biotin (B7)

Biotin is known as “the beauty vitamin” since it aids in the synthesis of important fatty acids for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It’s also a coenzyme for the conversion of sugars and fats into energy.

Foods rich in biotin include:

  • Meat
  • Cooked eggs
  • Avocados
  • Sweet Potato
  • Cauliflower
  • Strawberries
  • Nuts & seeds

Biotin deficiency can cause thinning hair, a skin disorder called scaly dermatitis, and brittle nails. About a third of pregnant women experience mild biotin deficiency. People who eat raw eggs in recipes for mayonnaise, Caesar dressing, eggnog, or other forms can also experience biotin deficiency. That’s because a protein in egg whites called avidin can bind to biotin and prevent its absorption. Cooked eggs are not a problem since the avidin gets broken down when heated.

Folate or Folic Acid (B9)

Folate is best known for being essential for the healthy development of the fetal nervous system, and as an important vitamin to supplement during pregnancy to prevent birth defects. Some of its other functions are fostering the formation of red blood cells and healthy circulation, promoting cellular repair of the skin and digestive tract, working together with B12 for DNA synthesis, and strengthening immunity through the formation of white blood cells.

This B vitamin has various forms and corresponding names — here are a few of them so you can more easily identify this essential vitamin. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin found in many dietary supplements and in food fortification. Other forms of the vitamin are L-MTHF and folinic acid which are active forms that are similar to those found in our body after our body has processed them.

Good sources of vitamin B9 are:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts

Certain people are more prone to folate deficiency than others. One such group are people carrying the variant of the gene MTHFR who cannot convert folate into its active form that can be used by the body. A deficiency of vitamin B9 causes anemia, weakness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, hair loss, pale skin, or mouth sores.

Cobalamin (B12)

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient heavyweight that is critically important for maintaining our overall health. It helps produce and maintain the myelin sheaths that surround our nerve cells. It’s vital for the development of red blood cells and plays a key role in mood and memory, especially as we get older. In addition, protein, carbohydrates and fats all depend on vitamin B12 for proper cycling throughout the body. Like vitamin B6 and folate, vitamin B12 is essential for optimal heart and vessel health through its ability to break down homocysteine.

Most animal-based foods are rich in vitamin B12 like:

  • Meat
  • Fish & shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products

As we age, we become progressively more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency since our digestive system loses its ability to absorb it. In fact, some research suggests that up to 30 percent of people over age 50 have lost the ability to absorb adequate vitamin B12 from their food. Vegetarians and vegans are also prone to B12 deficiency, since this vitamin is exclusively found in animal derived foods.

Getting Enough B Vitamins

Clearly, the B team of vitamins are essential for an astonishing variety of life functions. And while eating a well-balanced diet is key to ensuring we get enough of these nutrient powerhouses; a significant number of people may not be meeting their needs through diet alone.

Some reasons for this include a high consumption of processed foods, declining levels of nutrients in our soils, and chronic health conditions that influence nutrient absorption, among other things. Plus, factors like age, pregnancy, medical conditions, genetics, and prescription medications can increase our body’s demand for B vitamins.

That’s when a supplement of the B team can give our body an assist. Super B-Complex™ is a food-form source of all eight B vitamins plus three cofactors of choline, inositol, and PABA. Each vitamin in the formula is made through a fermentation process using organic vegetables and fruits, then activated with enzymes and probiotics for enhanced bioavailability. Super B-Complex is gentle and can be taken on an empty stomach, and by taking B supplements in food-form, you get your daily nutrition just as nature intended for optimal benefit.

2 Years ago