B Vitamin Complex

Published March 24, 2014

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B Vitamin food

What are B Vitamins?

Vitamin B is a group of water-soluble vitamins that are vital for various bodily functions, such as the production of energy and blood cells. Although the body uses carbohydrates, fat and protein for fuel, it’s the B vitamins that allow your body to use it.

  • Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is essential for energy production. It helps the enzymes responsible for converting carbohydrates to energy to function properly. Vitamin B1 also helps to metabolize protein and fat, maintains healthy nerve, brain and muscle function and supports good heart health. Vitamin B1 is found in whole grains, seeds (especially sesame seeds), legumes, wheatgerm, nuts, yeast and pork.
  • Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is important for the metabolism of other B vitamins, especially Vitamin B3, B6 and folic acid. Vitamin B2 also plays an important role in maintaining healthy hair, skin, nails and eyes. It helps the liver to detoxify our bodies of pollutants and toxins that we are exposed to in the environment. Vitamin B2 is found in milk and dairy products such as yoghurt, in whole grains, egg whites, green leafy vegetables, meat and yeast.
  • Vitamin B3, or niacin, is an important vitamin that is needed for the function of over 200 enzymes in the body, especially those involved in energy production. It also maintains healthy cell division, reduces inflammation, supports healthy nerve and brain function and helps to maintain blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Vitamin B3 is also important for the health of the lining of the digestive tract. It is found in meats, including fish and poultry, milk, eggs, whole grains, nuts and mushrooms.
  • Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid. This comes from the Greek word ‘panthos’ meaning ‘everywhere’, as it is found in a wide variety of foods. It helps to regulate fat and cholesterol production and is necessary for the manufacture of hormones. These hormones play a part in fertility, inflammation and our reactions to stress. Vitamin B5 also maintains nerve fiber insulation, which is essential for normal nerve impulse transmission. Vitamin B5 is found in many foods, but particularly good sources include liver, milk, kidneys, eggs, meat, yeast, peanuts and legumes.
  • Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine and is found mainly in muscle tissue. It is essential for making amino acids, the building blocks of proteins needed for tissue growth and repair. It also maintains muscle function, energy production, a healthy immune system, supports the reproductive system and maintains fluid balance. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the manufacture of certain brain chemicals that have a calming effect on the nervous system. It is found in cereal grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables, fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, nuts, liver and fruit.
  • Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, was the last true vitamin to be discovered. It has many important effects, such as regulating cell division and the growth of red blood cells. It is also necessary for making myelin sheaths around nerves, which allow for the efficient transmission of nerve impulses. Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in mood regulation and maintenance of the lining of the digestive tract. As we age, our bodies are not able to absorb as much Vitamin B12 from foods, which is why the elderly are particularly at risk of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. It is found in liver, meat, milk, cheese and eggs.

Although B group vitamins are found in many foods, they are water soluble and easily destroyed by cooking, food preparation and alcohol. The body is also not able to store most types of Vitamin B, so a poor diet may lead to a deficiency within a few months.

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