Vitamins are generally an organic compound and a large nutrient that an organism requires a limited amount. Vitamins are substances that our body needs to grow and develop normally. We can usually get all our vitamins from the foods we eat and each vitamin has its own specific job. If we have low levels of certain vitamins, we may get health problems. For example, if we don’t get enough vitamin C, you could become anaemic. Some vitamins play a vital role in preventing medical problems. Vitamin A prevents night blindness. People who eat a vegetarian diet may need to take vitamin B12 supplements. Our body can make vitamins D and K and for other vitamins, we can have it through the balanced food. There are 13 vitamins our body needs are included:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins (B1=Thiamine, B2=Riboflavin, B3=niacin, B5=Pantothenic acid, B6=Pyridoxine, B7=Biotin, B9=folate, B12=Cyanocobalamic)
- C Vitamin
- Vitamin D
- E Vitamin
- Vitamin K
We will talk about other types of vitamins in our coming days. But for now, let’s move with vitamin B. As you see there are 8 types of B vitamins. It is a group of substance (the vitamin B complex) which is essential for the working of certain enzymes in the body. This is water-soluble vitamin, while, it plays a vital role in cell metabolism. In other words, a complex group of 8 different, but related, macronutrients used by the body to assist in the body’s chemical reaction are Vitamin B. These reactions produce protein, which is helpful for building muscles. Vitamin B is used for creating energy from fats and carbohydrates.
Each vitamin B is either a cofactor (generally coenzymes) for key metabolic processes or its precursor, a needed to make one. We can get vitamins into our bodies by eating food. Vitamins can be produced synthetically in the laboratory. Ingesting man-made vitamins in the absence of or unable to absorb, is another way of supplying the body to maintain health and function properly.
Vitamins can be classified into two: 1) fat soluble and 2) water soluble. Vitamin B is generally classified as water-soluble vitamins. Which simply means that Vitamin B will function properly when they are dissolved in water.
Importance of vitamin B
The foods we eat contain vitamins. Our body uses these vitamins in a different chemical reaction for the purpose of changing one substance into another. Each of the different vitamins is necessary for the body to function properly. Vitamin cannot substitute one for another.
To understand the role or importance of vitamin B we have to know what different eight B vitamins do in the body
- (B1) Thiamine is a coenzyme which helps in the metabolism of carbohydrate. In the other word, it means when we eat sugar, vitamin B1 helps to turn sugars into energy.
- (B2) Riboflavin is present in our body as a coenzyme which acts as hydrogen acceptors and also a component of acid oxidases.
- (B3) Niacin helps regulate the nervous and digestive system.
- (B5) Pantothenic acid also works as a coenzyme helping to produce acetyl CoA from pyruvic acid, oxidation and synthesis of fatty acids.
- (B6) Pyridoxine functions with enzymes and also involved in amino acid metabolism.
- (B7) Biotin is involved in the production of hormones.
- (B9) Folate helps cells make the maintain DNA
- (B12) Cyanocobalamin works as a coenzyme in every cell, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow and nervous system where it helps to make DNA.
Health Benefits of vitamin B
Referred to as vitamin B complex, the eight vitamins play a significant role in keeping our bodies running like well-oiled machines. These macronutrients help to convert our food into energy. While many of following functions in tandem, each has its own benefits.
- B1 (Thiamine) helps the body to make new cells. It is also called an anti-stress vitamin because of its ability to protect the immune system. It prevents kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
- B2 (Riboflavin) works as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals (particles in the body that damage cells) and may prevent early ageing and the growth of heart disease. Riboflavin is also important for red blood cell production, which is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Several studies suggest that B2 prevents migraines, but more research needed to be sure.
- B3 (Niacin) is used to boost HDL cholesterol (i.e good cholesterol). And the higher a person’s HDL, less the bad cholesterol he/she will have in their blood. Niacin, used topically and ingested, has also been found to be good for treating acne.
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) are found in just about every food group. In addition, to reduce fats and carbs for energy, it’s responsible for the production of sex and stress-related hormones. Studies show Panthothenic also promotes healthy skin with the ability to reduce signs of skin ageing such as skin spots and redness.
- B6 (Pyridoxine) plays a vital role in mood and sleep patterns because it helps the body to produce serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine, a stress hormone. Some studies show that vitamin B6 reduce inflammation for people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. It protects against heart disease, alleviates pregnancy-related nausea and relieves PMS symptoms.
- B7 (Biotin) has also gone by “the beauty vitamin” because of its association with healthy hair, skin and nails. Biotin may help people with diabetes and control high blood glucose levels too. This B vitamin is most important during pregnancy because it plays a vital role in the normal growth of the baby.
- B9 (Folate) is the synthetic form used in supplements and fortified foods like bread and cereal. Studies suggest B9, may help reduce depression and prevent memory loss. It helps to prevent breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer, as well as decrease risk of birth defects.
- B12 (Cobalamin) is a total team player. Cobalamin functions with B9 to produce red blood cell and help iron do its work: create the oxygen-carrying protein, haemoglobin. Since cobalamin only found in non-veg products, studies show higher rates of vegetarian with a deficiency. For those who have a deficiency, it may be necessary to supplement the diet with B12. It helps to lower cervical cancer risk and reduce levels of homocysteine.
Few studies have tested the effects of taking a B complex supplement though, in recent years, several studies have shown that B vitamins can help with a host of health condition. A 2010 Report from PLOS ONE, B vitamins may help protect against age-related memory problems. Preliminary research indicates that B complex supplements may reduce inflammation in hemodialysis patients.
Sources of B vitamins
To boost intake of B vitamins, look or these foods
- Whole grains and cereals (sources of B1, B2 and B3)
- Green vegetables (sources of B2 and B9)
- Eggs (sources of B7 and B12)
- Kidney beans (sources of B1 and B2)
- Bananas (sources of B6 and B7)
- Citrus fruits (sources of B9)
- Chicken (sources of B3, B6 and B12)
- Nuts (sources of B3 and B9)
Vitamin B5 is found almost in all foods.
Why people take vitamin B complex supplements?
Many people take vitamin B complex to increase energy, improve memory, enhance mood and stimulate the immune system.
Although B complex supplements are usually considered safe, they may cause certain side effects like increase in blood sugar levels and skin problems. If you are not getting sufficient B vitamins from your food or diet, taking Vitamin B complex could be favourable.
Deficiency of vitamin B
Deficiency in B vitamins can cause a lot of symptoms like tiredness, loss of appetite, depression, abdominal pain, anaemia, hair loss, muscle cramps and eczema. Pregnant women with vitamin B9 deficiency could give a birth babies with defects. Lack of vitamin B3 can cause digestive issues and may also cause mental confusion. Deficiency of vitamin B1 and B2 usually don’t pose a problem, but it can be an issue with people who drink alcohol, however, presenting symptoms such as confusion and crack along the sides of the mouth. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can give a rise to anaemia. A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms, but if it’s not cured, it may progress and cause symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, pale skin, smooth tongue, vision loss and mental problem etc. Doctors diagnose vitamin deficiency anaemia through blood tests.
Preventing deficiency of vitamin B
To stay healthy, most people don’t need to take a vitamin B complex supplement in order to get sufficient Vitamin B. There are lots of delicious foods available to get all the nutrients. Sometimes we must use supplements to prevent the deficiency. These vitamin supplements should only be taken under the advice of a doctor. If there are pregnant women or over the age of 50, they are more likely to need supplements.
Supplementation is the only option if we cannot obtain B vitamins through our foods. While the risk of overdose is low because B vitamins are water soluble but supplements may still cause side effects or interact with other medicine we take.