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 is also referred to as Riboflavin. This vitamin has high antioxidant properties, which help to fight free radicals (particles in the body that damage cells). Due to its antioxidant effects, studies suggest that this vitamin prevents early ageing and the development of heart disease. Riboflavin is good for the eyes. It also combines with other B vitamins to converts food into energy.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Benefits
- Assists with red blood cell production and growth
- Helps to maintain proper eyesight
- Vitamin B2 can help to fight migraines
- 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 is also called Niacin. A lack of niacin can cause digestive issues, like nausea and stomach cramps. This vitamin helps to aid proper digestion and improve appetite. The vitamin also assists in the production of hormones and help the body convert food to energy.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Benefits
- Aids in proper digestion and healthy appetite as well
- Vital for nerve functioning.
- It can be applied to the skin to treat acne.
- Stimulates hormone secretions.
- 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 or Pantothenic Acid is a team player among the B-vitamins. It assists the body in using other vitamins, such as Riboflavin. Vitamin B5 performs many roles, such as converting nutrients from food into energy and reducing bad cholesterol in the body. Studies also suggest that that B5 can reduce signs of skin ageing.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Benefits
- Helps to break down fats and carbs into energy
- Assist in the formation of new cells
- Helps to balance blood sugar
- Reduces bad cholesterol and lowering high blood pressure.
- Prevents heart failure.
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 is also referred to as Pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 enzyme reactions in our body. This means that Pyridoxine helps in many processes of cell metabolism and hormone secretion in the body. Due to this effect, Vitamin B6 helps to regulate our mood and sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 is also vital for healthy brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Benefits
- It helps the body to secrete serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine (sleep and stress hormone)
- Regulates levels of the amino acid and preserve the heart
- Converts food to energy
- Promotes brain health in children.
- Can reduce inflammation associated with arthritis.
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 popularly known as “the beauty vitamin.” This is because it promotes healthy hair, skin and nails. This B vitamin is very crucial for pregnant women because of its vital for the normal growth of the baby. Vitamin B7 also stimulates many metabolic processes in the human body. These processes include converting food to energy and regulating our blood sugar levels.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) Benefits
- Helps to convert fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids in the body.
- Regulates blood sugar level. (Especially in people with diabetes)
- 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.