The Vitamin B-complex refers to a family of 8 known essential water-soluble vitamins. They are namely Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Niacin (vitamin B3), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic acid (Vitamin B9) and Cobalamin (Vitamin B12). Like other Vitamins, B-Vitamins help to keep us in good health. They ensure that the body functions like a well-oiled machine. The roles of B-Vitamins cut across every part of our body. For example, they play an essential role in the making of new cells in our body. They help to regulate our nervous and digestive systems and promote the production of red blood cells. Also, B-vitamins are energy-boosting vitamins. These essential nutrients assist the body to convert food into energy, thus allowing us to stay energized throughout the day. This is why they are important for exercisers and fitness people who need to produce energy from their carbohydrate diet.
The benefits of the B-vitamins are very many. Scientists have also noted that B-vitamins have anti-ageing effects. B-complex vitamins enhance beauty by fighting damage caused by free radicals, which cause disease. This way, they promote hair growth, softer skin and stronger nails. From the foregoing, it is clear why we should enrich our daily diet with B-complex vitamins. This article explains the 8(eight) known essential B vitamins, alongside their roles, food source and doses. At the end of each vitamin, vital tips are provided for taking B-complex supplements safely and effectively.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B1 is also called thiamine. It is majorly an energy-boosting vitamin. This is because it is responsible for turning carbohydrate into energy. Thiamine also performs other functions like assisting the body to make new healthy cells and protecting brain health.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Benefits
- Boost energy levels in the body
- Protect the immune system;
- Assists in cell production and metabolism
- Improves brain, muscle and nervous system health.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Food Sources
Vitamin B1 is richly found in whole grain, milk, bread and cereals. It is also contained in peanuts, spinach, kale, black beans, trout, mussels, and tuna.
Pro Tip: Vitamin B1 deficiency can become an issue with people who misuse alcohol. It is advised to take 0.8 to 1 mg of Vitamin B1 per day to stay sufficient.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, has potent antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals (particles that damage cells in the body). Due to its antioxidant properties, studies have shown that this vitamin may prevent premature aging and maintain heart health. Riboflavin supports eye health and can be combined with other B vitamins to convert food into energy.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Benefits
- Assists with red blood cell production and growth
- Helps to maintain proper eyesight
- Vitamin B2 helps fight headaches;
- Rich in antioxidants
- Prevents signs of ageing
- Helps to maintain heart health
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Food Sources
Riboflavin is naturally found in eggs, meat, milk and green vegetables. It is also found in fortified cereals and enriched whole-grain products. Dark green vegetables, spinach, brussels sprouts, legumes, almonds, wild rice and yoghurt also contain this vitamin.
Pro Tip: note that ultraviolet light reduces the riboflavin content in food sources. So, when you buy milk, for instance, make sure it is packaged in an opaque container that protects the vitamin from harmful sunlight. Getting 1.1 to 1.3 mg per day of this vitamin will help our body to boost energy, promotes good vision and healthy skin.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, can cause digestive problems (such as nausea and stomach cramps) if the body is deficient in niacin. Vitamin B3 aids digestion and appetite, and helps the body convert food into energy.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Benefits
- Aids in proper digestion and healthy appetite as well
- Vital for nerve functioning.
- Can be used externally on the skin to promote skin health;
- Converts food to energy.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Food Sources
Niacin intake is high in foods such as eggs, fish, lean meats, poultry, peanuts, dairy products, rice, fortified cereals, yeast, red meat, milk, beans and green vegetables, and enriched bread.
Pro Tip: Health experts recommend that men consume 16 mg of niacin, while women should aim for a 14 mg daily dosage.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B5/Pantothenic Acid is a supplement in the B vitamin complex that helps the body use other vitamins, such as riboflavin. Vitamin B5 has a wide range of functions, converting nutrients in food into energy and maintaining blood vessel health. Studies have shown that B5 can slow down the signs of skin aging.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Benefits
- Helps to break down fats and carbs into energy
- Assist in the formation of new cells
- or to help stabilize blood sugar levels;
- May help stabilize blood pressure levels;
- Support heart health.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Food Sources
Pantothenic acid is found in food such as milk, vegetable, beef, poultry, Avocados, yoghurt, whole grains (brown rice, oats), eggs, meat and legumes.
Pro Tip: Expert recommend that Adults should consume 5 mg of pantothenic acid.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, participates in the reactions of more than 100 enzymes in the human body, that is, pyridoxine contributes to the process of cell metabolism in the body. Thus improving our mood and sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 supports healthy brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Benefits
- Aids sleep and reduces stress;
- Regulates levels of the amino acid and preserve the heart
- Converts food to energy
- Promotes brain health in children.
- Reduce joint discomfort.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Food Sources
Vitamin B6 is mainly found in vegetables (e.g. potatoes), poultry, fish, meats and fortified cereals. It is also contained in lentils, sunflower seeds, cheese, brown rice and carrots.
Pro Tip: adults below the age of 50 are advised to take 1.3 mg of vitamin B6 is daily. Men over 50 should take up to 1.7 mg, and women in the same age group should aim for 1.5 mg.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Vitamin B7 (biotin) is also known as the "beauty vitamin" because it promotes healthy hair and nails and improves skin health. This vitamin is essential for the normal growth of infants and young children, so it is essential for pregnant women. Vitamin B7 also stimulates various metabolic processes in the body, including converting food into energy, or helps stabilize our blood sugar levels.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) Benefits
- Helps to convert fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids in the body.
- May help stabilize our blood sugar levels;
- Enhances the growth of hair, skin and nails.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) Foods
Foods rich in Vitamin B7 include beef, egg yolk, wheat germ, sunflower seed, sweet potatoes, almond, sardine, spinach and broccoli. Other sources include liver, yeast, chicken, fish, and potatoes.
Pro Tip: It is advised for adults to consume 30 mcg of biotin daily. Breastfeeding mothers may increase the dosage to 35 mcg daily for the sake of their baby.
Vitamin B9 (Folate) Folic Acid
Folic acid is slightly popular than other B-vitamins. It is commonly added to supplements and fortified foods like cereal and bread. Folate promotes the growth of red blood cells in the body. It is very vital for pregnant women because it helps to develop the brain of the unborn child. It also prevents birth defects.
Vitamin B9 (Folate) Folic Acid Benefits
- Simulates red blood cell production.
- Prevents memory loss.
- Allows fetal brain to form properly. Prevents birth defects.
Vitamin B9 (Folate) Foods
Folate foods include citrus fruits, liver, kidney, fish, fortified cereals and legumes. It is naturally found in dark green leafy vegetables and other vegetables like asparagus and brussels sprouts.
Pro tip: Folate can be destroyed by prolonged cooking. Make sure to cook your vegetable on low heat. Adults should aim for 400 mcg of folic acid. While pregnant women should increase to 600 mcg, and lactating women should consume 500 mcg.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins)
Vitamin B12 is another team player among the B vitamins. It works with Vitamin B9 to produce red blood cells in the body. Vitamin B12 also supports cell metabolism and preserves our nervous system. Vegetarians stand a risk of losing out on this vitamin because it is mainly found in animal products.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins) Functions
- Boosts energy
- Promotes red blood cell production.
- Enables iron to function properly.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins) Foods
Beef liver, fish, poultry, eggs and milk. Some cereals are fortified with vitamin B12.
Pro tip: It is advised for adults to get 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day.
Every vitamin has unique functions in the body. Like any other vitamins, B complex vitamins help in the smooth functioning of our body. They are usually contained in a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, rice, beans, nuts, seeds and fortified whole-grain products. B-complex vitamins help to combat everyday stress and boost energy. However, most people cannot meet their vitamin B requirement through diet alone. This is where supplementation might be very helpful. Taking a premium multivitamin could be a fast choice. Most multivitamin products contain the B-complex along with the rest of the essential vitamins.