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B Vitamins: A Comprehensive Guide

Everyone’s heard of the famous vitamin C, but what exactly are B vitamins, and why are they important for our well-being? This group of water-soluble vitamins play critical roles in our physiological function such as energy and brain health, digestion, cell metabolism, and cardiovascular health.

If you’ve ever wondered about B vitamins, this blog post is for you! In it, we’ll take a closer look at this group of compounds, what each one does, and share some tips on how to best incorporate B vitamins into your lifestyle.

What are B Vitamins?

B vitamins are a group of eight compounds that support bodily functions such as energy, the nervous system, cardiovascular system, immunity, and cognitive function.

Each type of vitamin can be found in different foods, but legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and some leafy veggies are excellent sources. The eight B vitamins are:

  • B1 – thiamine
  • B2 – riboflavin
  • B3 – niacin
  • B5 – pantothenic acid
  • B6 – pyridoxine
  • B7 – biotin
  • B9 – folate or folic acid
  • B12 – cobalamin

We’ll take a closer look at each one after we look at some benefits of B vitamins.

Benefits of B Vitamins

Each B vitamin has a different effect on your wellness, but some overall benefits of the group are:

Energy Release (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12)

B vitamins are crucial for energy production. They metabolize macronutrients such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and convert the food into adenosine triphosphate, the primary energy source for our bodies.

Heart Health (B6, B9, B12)

Homocysteine is a naturally produced amino acid that you get from protein. However, elevated levels of homocysteine have been linked to an increase in cardiovascular illness, like blood clots and hardening of the arteries.

Some B vitamins can help lower homocysteine levels and reduce the harmful effects on blood vessels. While the research is still limited on the relationship between homocysteine levels and cardiovascular risk, some early studies have found a link between the two.

Skin Health (B2, B3, B5, B7)

Riboflavin (B2) helps improve collagen levels, essential in maintaining healthy skin and repairing tissues. Niacin (B3) helps the synthesis of ceramides, which are lipid molecules and help the skin’s protective barrier.

Pantothenic Acid (B5) helps the body produce more fatty acids, maintaining the skin’s moisture and complexion. Biotin (B7) also contributes to skin health and boosts the production of fatty acids.

Brain Support

Most B vitamins have been linked with increased cognitive performance and improved brain health. Deficiencies in the vitamins can lead to neurological decline and cause problems such as confusion, difficulties in concentration, and lack of mental clarity. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.

Types of B Vitamins

The eight types of B vitamins that work together to keep us healthy are known as B Vitamin Complex.

Now, we’ll look at each vitamin individually to see what it does, the potential benefits, and where you can find them.

B1: Thiamine

Thiamine, or Vitamin B1, plays a role in energy and metabolism. It converts carbohydrates into energy, regulates the body’s usage of glucose, and supports the body’s nervous and cardiovascular systems.

One of the most common reasons for a thiamine deficiency is alcohol abuse. Symptoms of a deficiency include a lack of mental clarity, fatigue, and weakness. It is important to note that thiamine supplements are not a treatment for alcohol abuse.

Thiamine can be found in many foods, such as whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and enriched cereals or oats.

B2: Riboflavin

Riboflavin, or Vitamin B2, is crucial to the production of energy, iron absorption, metabolism, and gastrointestinal health.

It is also a powerful antioxidant that can help neutralize damage to the body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules we can get from external factors such as cigarette smoke, environmental pollutants, and industrial chemicals.

High levels of free radicals place your body into a condition called oxidative stress, and prolonged periods of oxidative stress can result in serious wellness concerns.

B3: Niacin

Niacin, Vitamin B3, has been found to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the good kind) and lower LDL (the bad kind).

Too much exposure to LDL cholesterol increases the risk of coronary problems like hypertension and stroke.

B5: Pantothenic acid

Vitamin B5, or Pantothenic acid, has been found to improve the results of cancer treatment in mice.

B6: Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin that helps regulate cell metabolism and directly impacts your overall physiology.

In addition, this study on 478 human participants found that the participants who were given B6 showed significant improvements in mood, suggesting that B6 could be used to support consistent moods.

B7: Biotin

Biotin, or B7, has been found to help with hair loss. In a study of 18 human participants, all 18 showed significant hair and nail growth improvement when given B7.

B9: Folic Acid

Folic acid, or vitamin B9, plays a significant role in your cellular processes.

Folic acid is also responsible for neural tube growth in fetuses, which is why pregnant women typically take a folic acid supplement. A neural tube defect or other birth defects can hurt the fetus and affect the growth of the brain or spine.

B12: Cobalamin

Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products like meat, dairy, seafood, eggs, and dairy products, which is why vegans are often deficient in this vitamin. To prevent a deficiency if you don’t eat meat, you should take a B12 supplement to ensure your body is fed enough.

Some fortified breakfast cereals will have B12, but this isn’t naturally occurring.

How to Start a B Vitamin Regimen

About to incorporate B vitamins into your wellness regimen? While you can get vitamin B from many foods, you might be deficient and need a supplement. The dosage will vary according to your body size, age, metabolism, and overall health.

Older adults and pregnant women might need more. Before adding any dietary supplements, check with your doctor and avoid starting with high doses.

Best Foods for B Vitamins

B vitamins can be found in many foods, such as nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, leafy vegetables, and some fortified cereals. Each B vitamin is found in a different food group, so have a healthy, balanced diet to ensure you get all of them.

As mentioned earlier, vegans and vegetarians have to be careful to avoid a vitamin B12 deficiency and can think about adding a supplement if you have a plant-based diet.

B Vitamin Supplements

If you’re looking for vitamin B, our nootropic Mushroom Supplements combine the B vitamins with mushrooms such as Chaga, Maitake, and Reishi for optimal wellness.

Nootropic mushrooms are known for their numerous potential wellness benefits, like supporting the immune system  and cognitive function.