The B Vitamins

In past years, the B vitamins were thought to be a single vitamin in the same way that we think of vitamin C or vitamin D.

However, research has uncovered that the B vitamins are actually composed of 8 unique water-soluble vitamins co-existing in the same food items.

These 8 vitamins are referred by their individual names when sold as such although there are supplements containing all 8 vitamins, which are then called vitamin B complex.

Vitamin B complex can be purchased at any pharmacy or health foods store.

Vitamin B1

Also known as thiamin, vitamin B1 is necessary to process fats, carbohydrates and protein for fuel.

It is also required by the nerve cells for normal functioning, by the brain for optimum cognitive ability, by the blood for the formation of new cells as well as for healthy circulation, by the digestive organs to improve muscle tone, and by the body as whole to fight against the effects of aging, cigarette and alcohol consumption.

Rich sources of thiamin include pork, whole grain cereals, wheat germ, beans, asparagus and oranges.

Thiamin deficiency can lead to malnutrition, severe eye fatigue, neurodegeneration, and beriberi as well as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Vitamin B2

Just like the other B vitamins, riboflavin plays an essential role in energy production.

It is also essential in the regulation of human growth and reproduction, antibodies production as well as red blood cell regulation and formation.

It performs an important function in physical beauty in terms of healthy hair, skin and nails.

Riboflavin is abundant in foods like red meats, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, liver, kidneys and legumes.

Keep in mind that it is easily destroyed by light so vitamin B2 supplements must be kept in a cool, dark place.

The symptoms of riboflavin deficiency manifest in the oral and eye areas through cracked lips and corners of the mouth, sore throat and mouth ulcers as well as irritated eyes. Other signs include very dry skin and iron deficiency anemia.

Vitamin B3

More than an important component of energy production in the body, niacin is also essential in the elimination of toxins and harmful chemicals.

It also plays an important role in the production of sex and stress-related hormones, both of which are essential in our survival as species.

And if you want to gain weight, niacin promotes a healthy appetite and improves the normal functioning of the digestive system.

Niacin deficiency results in pellagra, which is considered one of the pandemic diseases along with beriberi, scurvy and rickets.

To avoid it, consumption of more liver, chicken, beef, fish, eggs, milk, cereal, peanuts and legumes is highly recommended.

Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid is an essential nutrient in that it is critical in the synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

There are studies that point to its value in the treatment of nerve damage as well as respiratory and skin problems.

Although vitamin B5 deficiency is relatively rare, its symptoms of irritability, fatigue, restlessness, sleep disturbances, nausea and vomiting as well as muscle numbness and abdominal cramps cannot be dismissed so easily.

Normal levels are usually regained through the consumption of peas, lean meat, poultry, fish and whole grain cereals.

Supplementation via calcium pantothenate is also advised by health experts.

Vitamin B6

Pyridoxine also converts protein into energy for the body while improving brain function through the synthesis of the neurotransmitters.

As a coenzyme, it is also involved in over 100 biochemical reactions.

Research has also shown that it works with folic acid (vitamin B-9) and cyanocobalamin (vitamin B-12) to lessen the levels of the amino acid known as homocysteine, which increases the risk for a heart attack in susceptible persons.

Vitamin B6 deficiency is often associated with deficiencies in other vitamins. The symptoms include anemia, seborrheic dermatitis, confusion, depression, irritability and, in worse cases, seizures. These signs can be avoided with the inclusion of poultry, pork, fish, eggs, soybean, oats, whole grains, bananas, nuts and seeds in the diet.

Vitamin B7

Also known either as biotin or as vitamin H, vitamin B7 is important in carbon dioxide transfer and in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.

It also promotes normal functions in the bone marrow, sweat glands, male gonads, skin hair, nerve tissues and blood cells.

As such, biotin supplementation is recommended for skin disorders, thinning hair and even in weight loss.

Biotin deficiency can result to neurological problems like lethargy, hallucination and depression as well as physical issues like muscle pains, hair loss, nausea and anemia.

Deficiency can be induced by feeding the individual with raw egg whites. Abundant sources of biotin are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts.

Vitamin B9

Folic acid, which is also known as folate, plays an important role in the production and regulation of new cells in the body.

As such, pregnant women and babies must consume abundant amounts of this B vitamin to ensure proper growth as well as in the production of red blood cells.

In fact, studies have shown that deficiency of folate in pregnant women can result in the development of spinal and brain defects as well as low birth weight and premature births.

Pregnant women must have 400 micrograms of folate daily.

Rich dietary sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, liver, dry beans, peas, fortified juices, cereals and grain products.

Supplementation is also possible especially for pregnant women.

Vitamin B12

Along with folic acid, cyanocobalamin assists in the production of healthy blood cells as well as in ensuring that the nervous system stays healthy. Men and women require 2.0 micrograms of this B vitamin on a daily basis.

Vegans are at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because it is only found in animal products like meat, milk products, eggs, cheese, chicken and fish.

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include pernicious anemia, walking and balance problems, weakness, confusion, sore tongue and even dementia.

The B Vitamins should not be treated like a B movie. The B Vitamins are 8 important vitamins necessary to keep a person's mind and body healthy.

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