B Vitamins play an important role in the body. If your body isn’t receiving adequate amounts from your diet it is important to supplement to avoid getting a deficiency. Without the B Vitamin group, our bodies would lack energy because the job of the B Vitamins is to help the body use the fuel from carbohydrates, fat and protein.
There are eight B vitamins — collectively called B complex vitamins. They are thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). The B Vitamins work together and are particularly prevalent in aspects of brain function, including energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis/repair, genomic and non-genomic methylation, and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signaling molecules.
We will look into each of the B Vitamins and why they are important.
Why is Thiamine (B1) important?
Thiamine is an important B Vitamin that assists in energy metabolism, it helps the body’s cells turn carbohydrates into energy. It creates neurotransmitters in the brain and plays a key role in nerve, muscle and heart function. It also produces fatty acids.
Symptoms of a Thiamine deficiency:
Thiamine in food:
Thiamine occurs in small quantities of many nutritious foods, some of those are:
People at risk of a Thiamine deficiency:
Why is Riboflavin (B2) so important?
Riboflavin or B2 is a water soluble vitamin which is found in some foods. It is important because it releases energy from the nutrients in all body cells. It plays and important role in antioxidant pathways throughout the body and also helps the body break down fats, drugs and steroid hormones.
Symptoms of a Riboflavin deficiency:
Riboflavin in food:
People at risk of a Riboflavin deficiency:
Why is Niacin (B3) so important?
Niacin is a super important B Vitamin – every part of your body needs it. It helps the digestive system, skin and nervous system. Niacin helps the body break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy and helps with the metabolism of glucose, fat and alcohol.
Symptoms of a Niacin deficiency:
Niacin in food:
Niacin can also be made by the body from the amino acid tryptophan. Dietary tryptophan could meet about half the daily niacin needs for most people and the rest can be done by diet. It is found in foods such as:
People at risk of Niacin deficiency:
Why is Pantothenic acid so important?
Pantothenic acid is available in plant and animal sources of food and is a very important vitamin for the human body. It is involved in more than 100 different steps in the synthesis of lipids, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones and haemoglobin. It is necessary for the body to create new coenzymes, proteins and fats. Pantothenic acid helps metabolise the food we eat and turn it into energy.
Symptoms of a Pantothenic acid deficiency:
Pantothenic Acid found in food:
Why is Vitamin B6 so important?
Vitamin B6 is an important nutrient for the human body as it helps the body make non-essential amino acids. It helps with brain development, immune function and it breaks down carbohydrates and fats.
Symptoms of a deficiency:
People at risk of a Vitamin B6 deficiency:
Why is Biotin (B7) so important?
Biotin B7 is important for the body as it breaks down certain fatty acids and amino acids. Some people believe Niacin may help with psoriasis  nail health, hair health and some skin conditions. It plays an important role in metabolism as a coenzyme that carries activated carbon dioxide.
Symptoms of a Biotin deficiency:
Foods with Biotin:
People at risk of a Biotin deficiency:
Why is Folate so important?
Adequate Folate levels are extremely important in pregnancy, adolescence and infancy. Folate helps make DNA and other genetic material and is needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow. Folic Acid is the term used for the synthetic form of folate and is used exclusively in dietary supplements and food fortification. Folate also converts carbohydrates into energy.
Symptoms of a Folate deficiency:
Folate in food:
People at risk of folate deficiency:
Why is Vitamin B12 so important
B12 is closely related to folate and is required to convert folate to its active form. B12 helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak. It’s needed to create new blood cells and for fat and protein metabolism. It’s also important in assisting with brain and neurological function. If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet it’s important to get your levels tested regularly for b12 and to supplement as b12 is only found in animal products.
Symptoms of a B12 deficiency:
B12 in food sources:
People at risk of deficiency:
As we can see by evaluating all of the B Vitamins there are some more than others who are more likely to suffer from a Vitamin B deficiency. Those who are pregnant or lactating, who suffer from a condition where they can’t efficiently absorb nutrients and those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. It is important to stay on top of your Vitamin B levels and if you’re feeling any of the above symptoms go to your GP and get checked over. Supplementation can be very beneficial for some people.