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Posted on Nov 18, 2022, 5 p.m.

Have you ever wondered what B vitamins are and what they do for you? They do a fair amount being that they are essential to brain function, cell metabolism, and energy levels. You can get them in supplements but it is always recommended to obtain them through unprocessed food sources because nutrient-dense food also contains other things such as fiber that are very healthful to you. If you are looking to optimize your intake of the B vitamins you could add a variety of non-processed foods to your diet like nuts, beans, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. 

The B team is an impressive lineup, they are star players who help you to convert your food and drink into energy to keep both your mind and body going. They are essential vitamins to all persons, and any deficiency can cause serious health problems. B vitamins assist your metabolism to break down energy from the food you eat, your metabolism is the process of chemical changes to make energy cells that your body needs to get rid of toxins, reproduce, repair, grow and stay healthy. 

Your body is not able to produce B vitamins on its own to support metabolism making it important that you eat a varied and well-balanced diet as no single food provides all of the B vitamins. It might be best to aim for a varied diet that consists of beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (fish, poultry, beef, pork), and whole grains. 

There are 8 types of B vitamins, together this group is called the vitamin B complex, and each vitamin has its own function: 

Thiamin- vitamin B1

  • High amounts are needed for the brain, heart, kidney, and liver to break down sugar from food, create certain neurotransmitters, produce fatty acids, and synthesize hormones.
  • Obtained naturally in whole grains, lean proteins, acorn squash, legumes, seeds, and nuts.


Riboflavin- vitamin B2

  • Essential for energy production, breaking down fats, drugs, and steroid hormones, converting tryptophan to niacin, and converting B6 into a coenzyme that the body requires. 
  • Obtained naturally in organ meats, fortified cereals, oatmeal, almonds, mushrooms, milk, and yogurt.


Niacin- vitamin B3

  • Niacin is converted into a coenzyme called NAD which is a necessary part of over 400 different reactions within the body such as changing energy from carbs, fats, and proteins into a form the body can use, expression of DNA in cells, cell communication, and metabolic process in the cells. 
  • Obtained naturally in animal-based foods which the body can easily use, and plant-based sources such as legumes, nuts, and grains but the body cannot use them as easily. 


Pantothenic acid- vitamin B5

  • This is necessary for the body to create new coenzymes, proteins, and fats, red blood cells carry it around the body so the nutrient can be used in a variety of processes for metabolism and energy.
  • The richest sources of this vitamin include beef liver, chicken, tuna, avocados, sunflower seed, shiitake mushrooms, and fortified cereals. 


Pyridoxine- vitamin B6

  • Pyridoxine plays a role in over 160 biochemical enzyme reactions, and it is required for amino acid metabolism, brain development, cellular communication, immune function, and breaking down fats and carbs, as well as acting as an antioxidant.
  • Sources that are rich in this vitamin include chickpeas, tuna, salmon, potatoes, poultry, organ meats, and fortified cereals. 


Biotin- vitamin B7

  • Biotin is needed within the body for DNA regulation, cell communication, and breaking down fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Some believe that it may also help with psoriasis, skin, hair, and nails but research has yielded mixed results.
  • Many unprocessed foods contain biotin such as organ meats, eggs, beef, pork, salmon, and sunflower seeds.


Folate- vitamin B9

  • The natural form of this vitamin is called folate, the synthetic form is called folic acid which is added to fortified foods. This vitamin is needed for DNA replication, proper cell division, metabolism of amino acids, and metabolism of vitamins. 
  • This can be obtained naturally in dark green leafy veggies, beef liver, eggs, avocado, papaya, orange juice, beans, and nuts, as well as enriched grain products and fortified bread and cereals. 


Cobalt- vitamin B12

  • Cobalt is sometimes called cobalamin, the body uses it to create new red blood cells, to metabolize fat and proteins, for DNA synthesis, for brain development and neurological function. 
  • This vitamin can be obtained naturally in clams, beef liver, salmon, and beef, as well as milk and yogurt. Plant-based sources include tempeh, tofu, cremini mushrooms, nori seaweed, and nutritional yeast and yeast spreads. Vegans may need to take a supplement or eat fortified foods to get enough of this essential vitamin. Additionally, with age, the body is less able to absorb B12 from the diet, and you may want to consider a supplement. 

Even vegetarians and vegans who avoid meat should be able to obtain enough of the B vitamins naturally from unprocessed food sources, with the exception of vitamin B12. Vitamins have different jobs to help ensure that the body and mind are working properly like helping you to resist infection, keeping your nerves healthy, getting energy from food, helping your blood clot properly, and cellular communication. 

Every day the body produces skin, muscle, bone, red blood cells, nerve signals, and a multitude of other processes to help you sustain life. Following a healthy well-balanced diet will help you to get enough of these vitamins as well as other vitamins and minerals that your body needs. 

This article was written by Tamsyn Webber at www.worldhealth.net

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.

Content may be edited for style and length.

References/Sources/Materials provided by:

https://www.myplate.gov/

https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/

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

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals-older-adults

https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/vitamins-and-minerals.htm

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