Give Me a B! The Value of a Vitamin B Complex

A B vitamin complex is a group of vitamins that facilitate vital body functions such as cell metabolism, production of red blood cells, energy production, digestion, and nervous system health. B vitamins are water soluble, meaning that they dissolve in water and can be administered with or without food. They are not stored or created by the body, thus they must be replenished each day.

Functions and benefits of each B vitamin

Eight vitamins make up the B vitamin complex, each having different functions. The body requires every single one of these, often obtaining them all from one’s diet. Taking a B vitamin complex is a very effective method of boosting energy, decreasing anxiety, providing a mental sense of well-being, improving the appearance of the hair and skin, and aiding in overall health.

Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B2 (riboflavin) aid in energy production and produce heart, muscle, and nerve enzymes. Vitamin B3 (niacin) supports energy production, and help with skin, digestive system, and nervous health. Vitamin B5 (panthotheic acid) is essential for general growth and development. Vitamins B7 (biotin) aids in processing of protein and carbohydrates, hormone production, and hair growth.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate) is essential for DNA and red blood cell production.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) aids in energy production, macronutrient processing, nervous system function, and B9 (folic acid) utilization.

What are the symptoms of B vitamin deficiency? 

The symptoms of vitamin b deficiency are vast, ranging from minor to deadly. They range from lethargy, drowsiness, depression, abdominal cramps, nausea and headaches, and can severe enough to result in increased cancer risk, increased likelihood of anemia, birth defects, stunted growth and development, and a general increased susceptibility to illness. Due to the consequences of deficiency, mega-doses of B vitamins are often prescribed to weak and ill patients. Overdosing on B vitamins is nearly impossible, as the body uses it as it needs it and eliminates the excess in the urine. As the body does not produce B vitamins, finding a healthy, reliable source to consume daily is essential.

What are good sources of B vitamins?

Like other vitamins, whole, unprocessed and natural foods are the most optimal sources of B vitamins. In particular, legumes, whole grains, peppers, yeast, and potatoes are good sources. Salmon, lentils, beef, cereal, milk, eggs, spinach, and kale are excellent sources as well. Vitamin B12 does not occur in plants whatsoever, so for those who are vegetarian or vegan, it is necessary to take a B12 supplement.

Taking a B vitamin supplement is also a great way to get one’s daily dosage of B vitamins. Many Americans today do not get enough B vitamins, especially due to the fact that they consume very little vegetables and eat large amounts of processed foods. Processing food decreases its nutritional content, and can also introduce unhealthy ingredients. Due to the highly negative, even lethal effects of not getting enough B vitamins, taking a supplement is an effective way to avoid this.

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Dr. Michael Heim

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