B Vitamins are best known for their ability to provide energy. They do this through cell metabolism. Basically, what this means is that the B vitamins are able to convert the food you eat into usable energy. There are a total of eight B vitamins.
Other than increased metabolism, B vitamins are known for their ability to maintain healthy skin, hair, and muscle tone. They also play a role in immune function within nervous system function. They promote cell growth and division including that of red blood cells. All eight B vitamins are water soluble which means there is not a chance of overdosing on them; Your body will simply excrete the excess through the urine.
Deficiencies of B vitamins, like many other vitamins, can result in vitamin deficiency diseases. The best sources of B vitamins include unprocessed whole foods like grains, bananas, lentils, beans, brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, and molasses. Essentially, B vitamins help unlock the energy in food.
The reason that there are gaps (4,8,10,11) in the B series of vitamins is that there once were vitamins that filled those gaps that are no longer considered vitamins.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) occurs in high concentrations in the yeast, pork, cereals, and grains. It’s required for the breakdown of fats and proteins, increased energy production, and improved memory. It reduces the effects of aging, aids in cardiac health, and ensures proper digestion.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) sources include liver, milk, yeast, cheese and eggs. It plays an essential role in energy production necessary for the breakdown of fats and proteins. It regulates thyroid and is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It’s also required for red cell production in antibody production
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is necessary for the production of stress and sex related hormones. Prescription forms may treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and cataracts. It is necessary for healthy hair, skin, and nails as well as energy production. High doses may cause what is known as a niacin flush which is a hot tingling, flushing feeling of the skin. This condition, however, is not dangerous.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is essential to the body’s balance of sodium and potassium. Sources of B5 include peanuts, pecans, cereals, oatmeal, chicken, pork, eggs, liver, mushrooms, beans and whole wheat. Vitamin B5 is also found in organ meats such as liver and the heart. It aids in building antibodies, healing wounds, preventing arthritis, protecting the skin from wrinkles, and protecting the body from cell damage.
Vitamin B6 plays a role in maintaining both the nervous and cardiovascular systems necessary for cell growth and function. It helps regulate blood sugar necessary for producing antibodies important for brain function, it promotes healthy skin, and it may be used to treat PMS. Sources include: bell peppers, bananas, chick peas, potatoes, spinach, beans, brewer’s yeast, eggs, chicken, and garlic.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) – essential for synthesizing fatty acids, relieves muscle pain, aids in energy metabolism, helps the synthesis of amino acids and glucose. Natural sources include: egg yolks, liver, kidney, cut oats, soybeans, nuts, and milk.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) – aids in digestion, helps strengthen the nervous system, lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, enhances the body’s immune function, and helps prevent birth defects. It is also used for treating depression and anxiety. Sources rich in B9 include: yeast extract, liver, dried herbs, roasted soybeans, sunflower seeds, dark leafy greens, beans, asparagus, and peanuts.
Vitamin B12 – sources include: meat, shellfish, cheese, and eggs. Vegetarians can develop a deficiency in this vitamin. Vitamin B12 converts food to energy, regulates the nervous system, reduces depression, stress, and brain shrinkage, helps maintain a healthy digestive system, protects against heart disease by curbing cholesterol levels, is essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails and the reproduction and constant renewal of the skin. In addition, it protects against certain types of cancer.
Vitamin B Supplements
B Complex Supplements can be a good way to help release the calories in your food, so that you have energy throughout the day, not to mention, sufficient energy to sustain all of the other biological reactions and processes taking place within your body. The best way to get your daily B vitamins (and all of your other vitamins) is through whole, unprocessed foods.
Unfortunately 95% of the food that Americans eat today is processed and lacking in essential nutrients such as B vitamins. That’s why it can be beneficial to supplement with such vitamins. Even if you do have a healthy diet rich in whole foods, there is a good chance that you are still missing out on certain vitamins and nutrients. It’s best to be safe and cover all your bases by giving your body everything it needs to operate at 100% by taking, at minimum, a quality multivitamin.
Vitamin B Complex Weight Loss
A good B complex vitamin can aid in weight loss by increasing metabolism and forcing the body to burn more calories, however, B vitamins are not a magic pill for weight loss. A good B complex vitamin combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan can assist in weight loss in the same manner that most weight loss supplements can.
The good thing about B vitamins is that they are all natural and safe so you don’t have to worry about taking too much or having negative side effects as you would with other types of weight loss pills.
Vitamin B Complex Side Effects
The only common side effect from the B vitamin group is from niacin. With high doses of niacin you will experience what is known as a niacin flush. Your skin may tingle and burn and you will feel hot flush. The feeling is temporary and is not dangerous. Taking extremely high doses of any type of vitamin could cause upset stomach or nausea, but I wouldn’t consider those serious side effects.