B Complex Vitamins: How They Play Critical Roles in Your Health

Blog Nutrition & Recipes B Complex Vitamins: How They Play Critical Roles in Your Health

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12.3.2020 0 comments

The name vitamin actually from “vital amine”, and that shows just how important vitamins really are for a healthy body.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the B vitamins and reveal some of the groundbreaking science on exactly why you need them, how to get more of them, and how they can improve your health.

Understanding the B Vitamins

There are actually EIGHT B vitamins that make up the “B vitamin group” or “B vitamin complex”:

  • Thiamine, or Vitamin B1

  • Riboflavin, or Vitamin B2

  • Niacin, or Vitamin B3

  • Pantothenic acid, or Vitamin B5

  • Pyridoxine, or Vitamin B6

  • Biotin, or Vitamin B7

  • Folic acid, or Vitamin B9

  • Cobalamin, or Vitamin B12

Each of these vitamins play a different role in your bodily function (as you’ll see below), and though they don’t get as much public attention as Vitamin C or Vitamin E, they’re no less important!

Science-Backed Benefits of B Vitamins

Here is what these vitamins do for your health [1]:

Vitamin B1 is needed for the synthesis of fatty acids in your body, as well as the production of steroid hormones. It’s also required for the production of neurotransmitters and other compounds that are required for optimal brain function. It also plays a role in both the function and structure of the membranes around your body’s cells.

Vitamin B2 is critical for enzymatic processes in your body, as it’s broken down into two individual flavoprotein coenzymes critical for normal bodily function. Vitamin B2 also helps your body process other B vitamins, and it plays a role in oxygen storage and transportation inside your body. It is needed for the metabolism of fatty acids and the production of brain lipids, the utilization and absorption of minerals like iron, and the production and management of thyroid hormones. A lack of Vitamin B2 has been linked to decreased brain function.

Vitamin B3 is vital for healthy brain function, as there are a number of brain-related processes and enzymes that are dependent on this vitamin. It also plays a role in energy production, oxidative reactions, DNA repair and metabolism, antioxidant protection, and the modulation of inflammatory cascades. A lack of Vitamin B3 has been linked to a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Vitamin B5 is needed to produce an important enzyme called CoA. CoA plays a role in oxidative metabolism, and it is vital for healthy brain cell structure due to the fact that it’s needed for the synthesis of fatty acids, phospholipids, cholesterol, and amino acids. It’s also vital for the production of neurotransmitters and steroid hormones.

Vitamin B6 is used in tandem with Vitamin B9 (folic acid) to regulate the folate cycle, but it’s also important for a healthy metabolism of amino acids. It also is vital for the productions of neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, and noradrenaline. Even a mild Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a sharp decrease in the production of these vital neurotransmitters, which can lead to sleep problems, mood imbalance, and even decreased cardiovascular function. B6 also plays a role in gene expression, immunity, brain glucose regulation, inflammation, and metabolism.

Vitamin B7 is vital for glucose homeostasis and metabolism, insulin production, and the function of important pancreatic cells. Type 2 Diabetes is often characterized by biotin deficiency, and people who have chronically low biotin levels often have problems with glucose regulation.

Vitamins B9 and B12 work together on a number of functions, and they both play a role in the important methionine and folate cycles. A lack of one can lead to a deficiency in the other, leading to brain dysfunction, decreased DNA stability, lower repair of neurons, atrophy in the hippocampus, and decreased tissue cell division. B12 also plays a role in metabolism and energy production, while B9 is vital for a healthy folate cycle, which synthesizes and regenerates a cofactor that is vital to have a healthy balance of enzymes needed to turn amino acids into important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

As you can see, these vitamins are very important, and they play a wide range of functions in your body. Getting enough B vitamins will ensure that you are as healthy as possible!

How to Naturally Get More B Vitamins in Your Diet

According to experts, men and women need different amounts of these B vitamins every day [2]:

Men Need:

  • 1.2 mg of Vitamin B-1

  • 1.3 mg of Vitamin B-2

  • 16 mg of Vitamin B-3

  • 5 mg of Vitamin B-5 (RDA not established)

  • 1.3 mg of Vitamin B-6

  • 30 mcg of biotin (RDA not established)

  • 400 mcg of folic acid

  • 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B-12

Women Need:

  • 1.1 milligrams of Vitamin B-1

  • 1.1 mg of Vitamin B-2

  • 14 mg of Vitamin B-3

  • 5 mg of Vitamin B-5 (RDA not established)

  • 1.3 mg of Vitamin B-6

  • 30 micrograms (mcg) of biotin (RDA not established)

  • 400 mcg of folic acid

  • 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B-12

While there are natural supplements that can provide you with B complex vitamins, you’ll find there are also a lot of foods that are rich in these important nutrients. Some of the best foods to eat include:

Proteins – Pretty much every animal-based protein contains B vitamins. Liver, kidney meat, fish, chicken, red meat, shellfish, milk, cheese, and eggs are all excellent sources of animal-based protein and Vitamin B. For those on a plant-based diet, most plant-based proteins—like beans, lentils, and soy products (including tempeh and soy milk)—also contain Vitamin B.

Leafy Greens – Most dark, leafy greens contain at least some of the B vitamins, particularly folic acid (B9). Spinach and kale are the two best options to get more of these important B vitamins.

Other Veggies – Potatoes, beets, and avocadoes are also excellent sources of B vitamins.

Whole Grains – Any whole, natural, high-fiber grain is going to contain some form of B complex vitamin, though the amount and exact vitamin makeup differ from grain to grain. Whole cereals are also a good source to get more B vitamins in your diet. Wheat germ and nutritional yeast are also valuable dietary additions.

Fruits – Banana, citrus fruits, and watermelon are all high in vitamins, including B complex vitamins.

Nuts and Seeds – Most nuts and seeds will contain some quantities of B group vitamins.

Blackstrap Molasses – This is one of the best sweeteners on the planet, and an excellent source of B vitamins.

Resources:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/vitamin-b-complex#recommended-daily-intake

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