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The Importance of B Vitamins

Written by

Deborah Freudenmann BHSc

B vitamins form a major group of nutrients that your body needs to perform various functions. These nutrients play a critical role in maintaining metabolic and physiological functions and also help to strengthen the body’s structural integrity.
The deficiency of B vitamins can result in a number of symptoms related to the functioning of different organs and systems. So, if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, memory problems, weakness, fatigue, concentration issues, skin complaints or other chronic symptoms then B vitamins might be playing a role.
Here is a brief discussion about the role of B vitamins in maintaining health and their importance. We will also have a look at the common causes and symptoms of B vitamin deficiencies so that you can take appropriate steps to avoid them and stay healthier.

 

What are B vitamins?

These are the group of vitamins essential for the proper functioning of the body. These nutrients allow the body to convert foods into energy by supporting metabolic processes and help to form new blood cells, regenerate brain cells, improve cellular health, and maintain skin health.

Let us have a look at the nutrients included in this group and the functions they perform.

Role of B Vitamins

Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Vitamin B1 supports the adrenal functions and regulates the activities of the nervous system. It also plays a key role in nerve transmission and supports the metabolism of carbohydrates to release energy.

Vitamin B1 deficiency, commonly referenced to as Beriberi, can cause symptoms like loss of appetite, pain in the legs, shortness of breath, weakness, and swollen legs.
The best food sources of thiamine are fish, chicken, sunflower seeds, grass-fed meats, black seeds, dark green vegetable, and black beans.

The best form of supplemental vitamin B1 is thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) or thiamine diphosphate – both are active forms.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Vitamin B2 supports metabolic functions. It plays an essential role in recycling glutathione, which is the body’s own natural antioxidant.

The common symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency include redness and swelling of the inner lining of the mouth, sore throat, sores on the lips, cracks at the corners of the mouth, and redness of the tongue.

The best food sources of this nutrient include almonds, grass-fed raw cheese, beef, salmon, and dark green vegetable.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Vitamin B3 is essential for energy production. It also helps in the conversion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for energy. Niacin is also needed for the synthesis of starch to be stored in the muscles and liver for later use as a secondary source of energy.

The symptoms of deficiency include redness of the skin, dementia, diarrhea, and sores in the mouth.

The best food sources of this nutrient are tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey, and grass-fed beef.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Vitamin B5 supports the activities of a molecule called coenzyme A that is essential for the conversion of fats, carbs, and protein into energy. Vitamin B5 also helps in maintaining hormonal balance and protects the skin against the signs of aging.

The symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, depression, vomiting, burning sensation in feet, and recurrent upper respiratory infections.

The best food sources of vitamin B5 are eggs, avocados, cabbage, and mushrooms.

The best form of supplemental vitamin B5 is D-pantothenic acid.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)

Vitamin B6 helps in balancing the levels of sodium and potassium in the blood. It supports the production of red blood cells and regulates the hormonal balance in women.

The deficiency of this nutrient may lead to nerve pain, anaemia, skin problems, sores in the mouth, fatigue, anxiety, tongue soreness, depression, and brain degeneration.

The best food sources of vitamin B6 are tuna, salmon, chicken, and chickpeas.

The best active form of supplemental vitamin B6 is pyridoxal-5’phosphate (P5P).

Biotin (Vitamin B7)

Vitamin B7 is critical for maintaining adrenal functions, promoting metabolic processes, and regulating the activities of the nervous system.

The common signs of biotin deficiency include scaly red rash in the face, depression, hair loss, lethargy, hallucination, and numbness and tingling in the legs.

The best food sources of this nutrient include fish, nuts, seeds, and eggs.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Vitamin B9 primarily supports digestive functions. The deficiency of this nutrient may result in intestinal disorders. The best sources of folate are asparagus, broccoli, avocados, spinach, and eggs.

The best active form of supplemental vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 supports nerve functions, cardiovascular functions, blood cell formation, and sleep. The deficiency of vitamin B12 would lead to neuralgias and sleep issues.

Some of the best sources of vitamin B12 include fish, beef, poultry, and eggs.
Now that we have learned the functions of B vitamins indicating why they are so important for our health, let us move further to check the common causes of deficiency of these nutrients.

The best active form of supplemental vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin.

What are the common causes of B vitamin deficiencies?

Poor diet

Lack of wholesome, nutrient rich foods full of B vitamins can ultimately make you prone to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

In addition, eating too much sugars and processed foods can also trigger inflammation and create microbiome imbalances. The disturbance in the gut can result in a reduced ability to breakdown, assimilate and absorb B vitamins.

Mental stress

Chronic and high stress can cause vitamin B depletion. These nutrients are used up by the body in high stress or through chronic stress.

Mental stress can trigger inflammation and hormonal imbalances and even contribute to poor digestion, causing depletion of B vitamins.

Poor gastric functions

Vitamin B12 can be absorbed effectively only in the presence of adequate amounts of acidic secretions in the stomach.

Atrophic gastritis that decreases the secretion of stomach acid can result in vitamin B12 malabsorption causing the deficiency of this nutrient. The use of medications for the treatment of acid reflux can also reduce the ability of the stomach to absorb vitamin B12.

Other than these, factors such as gut infections, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and genetics also contribute to the risk of developing vitamin B deficiencies.

Best Supplemental B Vitamins

It is important to make sure that your body can actually absorb and utilise the nutrients. Therefore, taking a high-quality activated form of a complex B vitamin supplement is important.

B vitamins are essential for your body to have an optimal functioning methylation cycle. The methylation cycle is imperative to your body functioning physically and mentally – nervous system, cardiovascular system, hormone function, immune system, as well as detoxification.

Some suggested B Vitamin’s (not in any specific order)

Conclusion

B vitamins are critical for maintaining cellular health. B vitamin deficiencies can result in a wide array of symptoms including fatigue, depression, anxiety, weakness, and skin issues.

It is important to correct these deficiencies by following a nutrient-dense diet. You can also consider using B vitamin supplements to support your health and well-being.

6 Responses

  1. The starting point are the body’s own active ingredients that are responsible for life support and the aging process. Many of these vital endogenous substances decrease continuously with age. Therefore, the supply of these essential substances is considered sensible. Currently, the scientific work of Prof. Dr. David Sinclair and his team from Harvard Medical School are promising. His research results too NMN nicotinamide mononucleotide and NAD +A SUPER B3 !

  2. alzheimer Dementia have been misdiagnosed Instead it is a B12 deficiency I knew a naturopath who suffered because she did not supplement her vegan diet with B12, she had to have B12 shots

  3. Thanks Deborah a comprehensive article.
    I recently watched a video with a distinguished doctor from Washington Uni.
    The Video was about Prostate Cancer and Breast Cancer, but he mentioned that B12 was the most important vitamin to take.

    From your article it looks like they are all important.

    What is your opinion

    1. Hello David, Thank you for your feedback. Yes, I definitely think that all B vitamins are important – not to mention they actually work better synergistically rather than isolating one component (unless of course there is a specific need/condition or deficiency requiring a isolated B vitamin in higher dosage). Hope this answers your question.

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