What is Vitamin B Complex?
The eight Vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12 – are referred collectively as Vitamin B Complex. They are the vitamins our body uses as fuel to keep everything running smoothly, like a well-oiled engine. The main function of these vitamins is to produce energy from food consumed by the body, keeping us energized all day long. They all work together towards this aim, but each of the eight vitamins has its own additional benefits, such as improving memory and cognitive functions, supporting the nervous system and treating migraine headaches. The best thing about them is there are B vitamins in pretty much everything we eat, so chances are that you are already getting sufficient B vitamins through your diet. However, physicians also recommend supplements of specific Vitamin B nutrients to treat certain health problems, and even to maintain health for a healthy person. It’s always best to seek a doctor’s advice before deciding on any supplements, as incorrect dosage can cause undesirable results.
Vitamin B1 (AKA Thiamine)
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine was the first vitamin to be discovered among the B vitamins group, thus its name. Thiamine is essential for providing energy to body cells. It also plays a key role in maintaining heart functions and synchronizing nerve and muscle movement. This vitamin is unstable and easily deteriorates when exposed to heat. Therefore, half of Thiamine content is lost from grains that are used to process cereals.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B1 / Thiamine:
- Aids Energy Production: Thiamine is an energy conductor; it fulfills this function by acting as a co-enzyme to turn sugar into energy for the body. This energy is essential for maintaining overall health and functioning of all the body’s major organs, in particular, the heart, kidneys, brain and lungs.
- Maintains Heart Health: Thiamine produces a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, whose function is to transmit messages to the body’s muscles and nerves. If the body lacks thiamine, it can cause the neurotransmitter to slow, and can even be a cause for irregular heartbeat at times.
- Promotes Brain Health: One of Vitamin B1’s key roles is to make sure the brain is working as it should, and also helps strengthen focus and memory. It can help ease stress, and aids in reducing the risk of developing infections and diseases that target the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B1:
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B1 in 100g||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Trout Fish||0.44 mg||28%|
|Lean Pork Meat||1.11 mg||75%|
|Sunflower seeds||1.5 mg||99%|
|Whole wheat bread||0.47 mg||31%|
|Green peas||0.28 mg||19%|
|Cooked asparagus||0.16 mg||11%|
|Roasted soybeans||0.43 mg||28%|
|Navy beans||0.25 mg||16%|
Vitamin B2 (AKA Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is responsible for guarding the body cells against oxygen damage. This vitamin is our body’s energy powerhouse. The ‘flavin’ in its name is derived from the Latin word ‘flatus’, which refers to the color yellow. Our urine’s color is caused by the removal of excess riboflavin.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B2 / Riboflavin:
- Acts as an Antioxidant: Being a good antioxidant, riboflavin can reduce and control free radical movement. It also assists to prevent a variety of cardiovascular diseases and cancers.
- Natural Migraine Remedy: Riboflavin has been proven to remedy migraines and headaches. It is frequently prescribed in high doses by doctors for those who suffer from severe migraine attacks. Taking regular Vitamin B2 supplements is also a good way to cure headaches and reduce migraine occurrences. It also helps decrease the intensity of migraines and lessen its time period.
- Improves Eye Health: Deficiency of Vitamin B2 in the body can cause a range of eye problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Studies show that people who consume high amounts of riboflavin are less exposed to eye problems, especially those caused by old age.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B2:
Cheese is the best source of Riboflavin. There are also other excellent sources of Vitamin B2, as shown in the table below.
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B2 in 100g||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Gjetost Cheese||1.4 mg||80%|
|Lean Meat||0.9 mg||1%|
|Mackerel Fish||0.6 mg||34%|
|Hard-boiled Eggs||0.5 mg||30%|
|Pork Meat||0.5 mg||30%|
|Sesame Seeds||0.47 mg||27%|
Vitamin B3 (AKA Niacin)
Like the other eight B vitamins, Vitamin B3 or Niacin is also used for energy production in the body. It is essential for maintaining good health as it supports the functioning of all the major body organs.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B3 / Niacin:
- Decreases Cholesterol Levels: Those suffering from high cholesterol levels can benefit from consuming Vitamin B3, as it has been proven to increase levels of good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. Physicians commonly prescribe Niacin for this reason, and also because it is potentially beneficial for general heart health.
- Promotes Skin Health: Vitamin B3 has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a great skincare option, especially for those suffering from severe acne. It is also used to calm skin irritation, inflammation, as well as treating certain skin diseases caused by inflammation.
- Improves Sexual Health: Niacin is a great natural treatment for erectile dysfunction, which is the lack of a man’s ability to sustain an erection, which in turn often leads to disappointing sexual performance. Vitamin B3 intake can help improve movement in blood pathways.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B3:
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B3 in 100g||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Tuna Fish (cooked)||22 mg||110%|
|Chicken Breast (cooked)||14.8 mg||74%|
|Pork chops (lean, cooked)||10.9 mg||54%|
|Lamb Liver (cooked)||16.7 mg||83%|
|Beef Ribs (lean, cooked)||9 mg||45%|
|Portobello Mushrooms (grilled)||6.3 mg||31%|
|Fresh Green Peas||2 mg||10%|
|Sunflower seeds||8.3 mg||42%|
Vitamin B5 (AKA Pantothenic Acid)
This Vitamin is the easiest vitamin you can add to your daily diet, as it is readily available in foods such as eggs and meats. It is a water-soluble nutrient that is present within all the cells of the human body. It is essential in keeping the nervous system running smoothly.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B5 / Pantothenic Acid:
- Improves Heart Health: Vitamin B5 plays a key role in protecting the heart from diseases, attacks and strokes. It helps regulate cholesterol levels in the body as well as supports the production of red blood cells.
- Support Healthy Nerve Function: Vitamin B5 supports the nervous system by producing acetylcholine, which is the molecule responsible for transmitting signals from and to the major organs of the body.
- Promotes Brain Performance: Pantothenic acid helps our mental functions and can significantly reduce chances of developing memory and function problems as we age. It is especially beneficial for treating stress, fatigue and depression, as well as improving concentration.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B5:
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B5 in 100g||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Shiitake Mushrooms (cooked)||3.6 mg||36%|
|Gjetost Cheese||3.35 mg||34%|
|Trout Fish (cooked)||2.24 mg||22%|
|Chicken Eggs||1.53 mg||15%|
|Pork Sirloin Meat (lean, cooked)||1.65 mg||17%|
|Beef Meat||1.61 mg||16%|
|Chicken & Turkey Meat||1.1 mg||11%|
|Sunflower seeds||7.1 mg||71%|
|Sweet potato||0.9 mg||9%|
Vitamin B6 (AKA Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal & Pyridoxamine)
Vitamin B6, like Vitamin B5, is also essential in maintaining the nervous system and brain health. It is used for the development of the substance ‘Myelin’, a protective protein layer that surrounds and protects nerve cells.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B6
- Maintains Blood Vessels: Vitamin B6 is responsible to control homocysteine, an element in the blood which can cause problems in the heart and blood vessels if homocysteine levels are too high (which can occur in the cases of Vitamin B deficiency).
- Supports Brain Health: Like the other B vitamins, Vitamin B6 also plays a role in maintaining correct brain function and development.
- Natural Mood Booster: Vitamin B6 works to raise the levels of serotonin, which is our brain’s “feel-good” hormone. This vitamin acts as a natural anti-depressant, improving your mood and inhibits mood disorders.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B6:
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B6 in 100g||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Sunflower Seeds||1.35 mg||67%|
|Pistachio Nuts||1.12 mg||56%|
|Tuna Fish||1.05 mg||52%|
|Chicken & Turkey Meat||0.81 mg||40%|
|Pork Meat||0.79 mg||39%|
|Dried Prunes||0.75 mg||37%|
|Beef Ribs (lean, cooked)||0.68 mg||34%|
Vitamin B7 (AKA Biotin)
Biotin is also a water-soluble vitamin, and its main function is to aid in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates by forming essential digestion enzymes. In addition, it also aids the adrenal activity and helps keep the nervous system healthy.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B7 / Biotin:
- Improves Metabolism Functions: Biotin helps convert food into energy for the body, contributing to good metabolism health. It does this in three ways: a) it converts glucose into useable energy, b) assists the body in utilizing amino acids obtained from proteins for various purposes, and c) it stimulates fatty acids obtained from foods containing fats.
- Controls Blood Sugar Levels: For those suffering from diabetes, Vitamin B7 is commonly prescribed along with chromium to combat the disease. Biotin helps regulate the body’s insulin levels, the hormone responsible for balancing blood sugar levels.
- Promotes Hair and Skin Health: If you happen to have a deficiency in biotin, you will notice a deterioration in your hair (damaged, thinned and dry hair), as well as dermatitis. It is effective in treating damaged hair and nails This vitamin is an ingredient in many hair and skin beauty products due to this property, but dieticians think eating biotin in the form of supplements or food is more effective than oral application.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B7:
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B7||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Peanuts||6.4 mcg per ¼ cup||88%|
|Almonds||14.7 mcg per ¼ cup||49%|
|Sweet Potato||8.6 mcg per cup||29%|
|Eggs||8 mcg per egg||27%|
|Onions||8 mcg per cup||27%|
|Oats||7.8 mcg per ¼ cup||26%|
|Tomatoes||7.2 mcg per cup||24%|
|Carrots||6.1 mcg per cup||20%|
|Walnuts||5.7 mcg per ¼ cup||19%|
|Salmon||4.5 mcg per ½ cup||15%|
Vitamin B9 (AKA Folic Acid or Folate)
Vitamin B9, better known as Folic Acid or Folate, plays a key role in sustaining emotional and mental health because of its ability to regulate brain functions. In addition, it is used for energy production (like all Vitamin B complex), as well as to strengthen the immune system. It is widely used in the form of supplements in fortified foods and supplements. The lack of folic acid in the body can cause a variety of problems in the body.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B9 / Folic Acid:
- Essential for Fetal Development: Folate is a vital nutrient for pregnant women, for its role in the fetus’s proper spinal cord and brain development. A folic acid deficiency is highly damaging; it can lead to incorrect spinal cord development, brain damage, or stillborn birth.
- Prevention of Heart Diseases: The presence of folic acid ensures good heart health and function, and helps prevent strokes and cardiovascular complications.
- Red Blood Cell Production: Folate is essential for the production of red blood cells, a lack of which can weaken the immune system and make the body susceptible to cancer and other diseases.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B9:
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B9 in 100g||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Black eyed peas||208 μg||52%|
|Romaine / Cos Lettuce||136 μg||34%|
|Whole wheat bread||85 μg||21%|
Vitamin B12 (AKA Cobalamin)
Apart from producing energy in cells, cobalamin is also required for proper development of red blood cells, DNA creation, as well as regulating the nervous system functions. This vitamin is mostly found in meats and poultry, but is also present in some cereal and dairy products.
Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin B12 / Cobalamin
- Boosts Energy: Vitamin B7 is required for producing glucose from carbohydrates to create “fuel” for the body. A lack of cobalamin often leads to fatigue.
- Protects Brain: Vitamin B7 protects the brain from memory loss, boosts cognitive processes as well guards the brain against developing neurodegenerative (caused by age) diseases, such as dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
- Prevents Heart Diseases: Cobalamin helps the body avoid heart diseases, attacks and strokes by keeping homocysteine levels under control. It also reduces high cholesterol levels, as well as controls blood pressure levels, contributing to overall heart health.
Top 10 Food / Natural Sources of Vitamin B12:
In general, seafood and red meats are quite high in Cobalamin, but dairy and soy products are also rich in this vitamin. Below are the top 10 sources of Vitamin B12:
|Food Source||Amount of Vitamin B12 in 100g||Percentage of Daily Value|
|Beef Liver||83 μg||1385%|
|Mackerel Fish||19 μg||315%|
|Silken Tofu||2.5 μg||40%|
|All-Bran Cereal||20 μg||333%|
|Skim Milk||0.5 μg||8%|
|Swiss Cheese||3 μg||51%|
|Chicken eggs||2 μg per whole egg||33%|
Why do people take Vitamin B Complex Supplement
It is often difficult to have plenty of variety in the diet, and many of us don’t get the nutrition our bodies need from food alone. The B vitamins, especially, are important for energy production, among other important bodily functions. Therefore, many people find it important to take Vitamin B supplements. However it is important to consult a doctor or dietician before taking Vitamin B supplements, as consuming them incorrectly can have harmful side effects and reactions in case of certain B vitamins. Some nutritionists do not recommend taking Vitamin B supplements as it can often cover up deficiencies from other vitamins.
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