Collectively known as the B vitamins, these vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins essential for several important functions in the body, including supporting metabolism and helping the body produce energy. Unlike the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), the B vitamins are not stored in the body, therefore need to be replenished daily through diet and supplementation to support their many functions. Some of the B vitamins can be made in the body in our large intestines since the resident bacteria, yeast and fungi are capable of producing them. That being said, it is crucial to have a healthy gut to produce and absorb B vitamins.
Benefits of B Vitamins:
Beyond their major role of helping break down the carbohydrates, fat, and protein we eat and converting them into energy, each B vitamin has unique functions. Below is a summary of each of these vitamins.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Vitamin B1 is important for the nervous system and the nerves. It synthesizes the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is responsible for proper communication between the nervous system and muscle contraction and tone, including the heart muscle.
Vitamin B 1 is also important for the development of the fat-like substance that covers our nerves called the myelin sheath. When there is a deficiency in B1 the myelin sheath becomes weaker and deteriorates leaving the nerves more susceptible to damage, inflammation, and sensitivity.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is a precursor for two important building blocks (or coenzymes ) in our body for energy production and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Vitamin B2 is also helpful in maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails. It has been shown to improve acne, eczema, and dermatitis.
It helps maintain a healthy vision and prevents visual problems such as cataracts, poor vision, and eye fatigue.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3 is involved in more than 50 different metabolic reactions on the body including the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, the formulation of red blood cells, metabolism of some drugs, and toxins.
Vitamin B3 supports the health of tissues of the skin, tongue, and digestive tract.
Synthesizes the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Increases energy, improves mood, reduces irritability, improves digestive disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion.
Vitamin B3 may also decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL (healthy) cholesterol.
Its neuroprotective properties may prevent some age-associated neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B5 is closely involved in the function of our adrenal glands and is also referred to as the “anti-stress vitamin”.
It is important in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to produce energy and supports the synthesis of an important neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) for neuromuscular reactions.
Vitamin B5 is used to treat Adrenal Fatigue, headaches, insomnia, allergies, asthma, arthritis, postoperatively to stimulate the GI tract, MS, and epilepsy.
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 is important in supporting the nervous system and neurotransmitter synthesis. It has been shown to have mood-boosting properties. Low levels of vitamin B6 are commonly found in individuals suffering from depression. Vitamin B6 helps produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, responsible for regulating emotions.
Vitamin B6 helps in antibody, red blood cell production, and the synthesis and functioning of both DNA and RNA.
It also helps to maintain the balance of sodium and potassium in the body which is important for fluid balance regulation, electrical function of the nerves, heart, and skeletal muscles.
In pregnancy, vitamin B6 is important for maintaining the mother’s hormonal and fluid balance for the baby’s developing nervous system.
- Vitamin B 12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 is essential for the metabolism of the nerve tissue and necessary for the health of the entire nervous system especially in the formation and health of the myelin sheath.
Has a role in red blood formation. When this vitamin is deficient, the cells become oversized and poorly shaped, a condition commonly known as pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B12 also increases energy levels by utilizing the body’s proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Deficiencies in B Vitamins:
Deficiencies of one or more of the B vitamins may occur fairly easily, especially during times of fasting, dieting, or inversely on diets that include substantial amounts of refined and processed foods, sugar, and alcohol.
-Anemia (insufficient red blood cells)
-Dry, flaky skin
-Mouth sores (at corners of the mouth, red and sensitive tongue, aphthous ulcers)
-Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting)
-Numbness and tingling of the extremities
Food Sources of B Vitamins:
-fish mackerel, herring, trout, salmon)
-beans and legumes
-dairy (yogurt, milk)
-vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes)
-nuts and seeds
-fermented foods (tempeh, miso)
-whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa)
B Complex SAP by NFH: B‑Complex SAP is a synergistic combination of essential B vitamins designed to support a healthy metabolism. B vitamins are water-soluble cofactors that are vital for energy production, the formation of red blood cells and tissue, nutrient metabolism, and the normal function of the immune system. B vitamins work together to improve stress levels and the proper functioning of the nervous system.
B5 SAP by NFH: B5 SAP has been formulated to contain a complex of B vitamins (water-soluble cofactors) heavily weighed to B5 (pantothenic acid) to help support energy production, formation of red blood cells and tissue, promote nutrient metabolism, foster normal function of the immune system and support liver function
B6 SAP: by NFH: Vitamin B6 is involved in a plethora of physiological functions, especially playing key roles in homocysteine metabolism, hemoglobin formation, and neurotransmitter synthesis. It also acts as a potent antioxidant in the body. B6 SAP provides a healthy supplemental dose of vitamin B6, including 10 mg of the active form pyridoxal-5′-phosphate, in a blend of B vitamins and choline to support optimal B6 metabolism.
As always the Nutrition Dispensary is here to help you choose the right supplement for you. It is always a good idea to check with your Medical or Naturopathic doctor before taking any supplement to ensure that there are no contraindications. Although supplements are derived from natural sources, they can still interact with some prescription medications. For any advice, questions, or additional information please contact us at [email protected]
Haas, Elson M, MD, Staying Healthy Through Nutrition 21st Century Edition The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine. Ten Speed Press a division of Random House, New York, 2006.
Blog Written by: Kacia Mongeau