Vitamins are needed for the proper functioning of the human body. Though they are required in very small quantities, the lack of Vitamins reflects greatly on our health! Our body is not capable of producing vitamins on its own, we, therefore, need to depend on external sources to ensure that the need is fulfilled.
Vitamin B was earlier thought to be just a single vitamin. But it was later found that these are chemically distinct vitamins that co-exist in the same food sources together. The different vitamins co-existing are:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine and pyridoxamine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
Vitamin B is needed for the proper functioning of almost every process that occurs in our body. It is of critical importance for metabolism, the nervous system, vital organs, eyes, muscles, skin, and hair. Our body uses different energy-yielding food sources like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for fuel. Vitamin B helps the body utilize that fuel. They play a major role in the activities of enzymes and proteins that regulate chemical reactions in the body, which are important for turning food into energy. Our body, however, has a limited capacity for storing Vitamin B, so a high amount of Vitamin B consumption is necessary for the proper functioning of the body’s processes. Vitamin B deficiency can often lead to several health problems as a chain reaction.
Sources of Vitamin B
Vitamin B is mainly water soluble and delicate and can get easily destroyed particularly by alcohol and cooking. Food processing also reduces the Vitamin B content in foods as we see in processed pieces of bread when compared to whole grain counterparts.
- Fish: The highest content of Vitamin B is found in fish. Salmon, trout, tuna, and cod are a few varieties that contain a high amount of Vitamin B.
- Lamb, beef, poultry, eggs, and dairy food also contain a high amount of Vitamin B.
- Vegetables: Certain fruits, vegetables, and legumes are good sources of Vitamin B. Avocados, pomegranate, dates, watermelons, and some berries are high in B complex vitamins. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, potatoes, and squashes also contain significant amounts. Legumes like soybeans, kidney beans, and lentils also contain Vitamin B in significant amounts.
a. Thiamine helps to convert glucose into energy and has a major role in nerve functions. Whole grain cereals sesame seeds, legumes, wheat germ, nuts, yeast, and pork contain high amounts of thiamine.
b. Riboflavin is involved in energy production and helps to improve vision. It also improves skin health. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, whole grain bread, cereals, egg, green leafy vegetables, meat, liver, and kidney contain the highest amount of riboflavin.
c. Niacin helps to convert carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol into energy. It helps in maintaining skin and aids in the functions of the digestive and nervous systems. Good sources of Niacin are meat, fish, poultry, nuts, mushrooms, and all protein containing food items.
d. Pantothenic acid is needed to mobilize carbohydrates, protein, fats, and alcohol and helps to produce red blood cells and steroidal hormones. Pantothenic acid is found in a variety of food items like liver, milk, kidney, and eggs. meat, yeast, legumes, and peanuts.
e. Biotin is also needed for energy metabolism along with amino acid, fat, and glycogen synthesis. Cauliflower, egg yolks. peanuts, liver, chickens, and yeast contain pantothenic acid in high amounts.
f. Pyridoxine is needed for protein and carbohydrate metabolism along with the formation of red blood cells and certain brain chemicals. Hence, it aids in the development of the brain and maintains steroidal hormone activity. Cereals, grains, legumes, fish, meat, shellfish, nuts, liver, and fruits have a high level of Pyridoxine.
g. Folate is also needed to form red blood cells which carry oxygen around to the different organs in the body. It is also needed in the development of the fetal nervous system. Pregnant women need a high amount of Folate in their diet. Folic acid is used extensively in the form of supplements and food fortification. Good sources of Folate are green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, liver, cereals, and citrus foods. In fact, the flour used in making bread is also fortified with folic acid.
The usual dose for adults is about 100mg for major Vitamin B and 100mcg for minor B vitamins. Children should take about 2/3 of the above mentioned dosage and children under 5 years should take 1/3 of the above mentioned dosage.
Symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency
Symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency include fatigue, cracked corners of the mouth, migraine, headache, anemia, depression, constipation, and burning feet. Deficiency of Vitamin B can also cause loss of appetite, abdominal pain, numbness, and tingling in the arms. Vitamin B deficiency can also lead to respiratory problems, hair loss, eczema, poor growth in children, and birth defects in pregnant women.
A. Health Benefits of Vitamin B
1. Proper bodily functioning
Vitamin B helps to convert food into glucose which provides energy to the body. Vitamin B also helps to metabolize fats and proteins which aids in the nervous system’s functioning. Thiamine helps to boost the nervous system and strengthens the body under stressful conditions. Pyridoxine, a part of the Vitamin B complex helps to make certain hormones in the brain which are known as neurotransmitters. It also boosts the immune system.
2. Cholesterol problems
Niacin helps lower bad cholesterol and boosts good cholesterol levels. It also helps to prevent the hardening of arteries. Niacin, if taken in huge amounts, however, can cause liver problems as a side effect.
3. Promote healthy growth
Folate, one of the B complex vitamins helps to promote healthy fetal development and makes new cells in the body. Folate is necessary to make RNA and DNA which helps in forming new cells. The vitamin also aids in promoting red blood cells and prevents anemia Folate is very important during pregnancy and protects against damaging the neural tube. All women of childbearing age are advised to increase their intake of vitamin B to prevent certain birth effects during pregnancy and delivery of the fetus.
4. Flush out the toxins
Niacin is very useful to remove toxins from the body and flush out the unwanted chemicals in the body. It is also required to produce several sex related hormones by the adrenal gland and repair any signs of DNA damage.
5. Cell growth
Biotin and folic acid help make new cells and aid the development of cell growth. It also helps in the production of fatty acids and maintains a steady blood sugar level. Some B vitamins also help cells to burn fat and provide glucose for energy.
6. Eases the mind
Vitamin B is a critical nutrient for all mind related troubles like stress, migraine, mood, and memory. Vitamin B also helps to quell anxiety, lift depression and boost energy. It also improves symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
It reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer if Vitamin B is consumed in the form of food and not medicines.
8. Aids indigestion
It is important to make sure that the food you eat is digested properly. Vitamin B produces Hydrochloric acid to break down protein, fats, and carbs. If these nutrients build up in your body, they can lead to kidney and liver failure. Increase your intake of Vitamin B to avoid such health issues.
9. Improves energy
Vitamin B plays an essential role in converting all those carbs that we eat into glucose. Glucose then is converted into energy with the help of Vitamin B. it is very important to make sure that our body is properly fueled to perform daily activities and that our energy doesn’t fall.
B. Vitamin B For Skin Care
Getting sufficient vitamins and minerals in our diet will not only benefit our body but will also take care of our skin. Vitamin B speeds up cell metabolism and promotes healthy skin. Research has revealed that Vitamin B can benefit our skin, both when ingested and when applied topically. For healthy skin make sure that you are getting Vitamin B through diet and your skincare regime. Vitamin holds a very important place in the enhancement of healthier and glowing skin. It not only keeps the skin tone healthy but also protects against eczema.
10. Vitamin B 1 is an antioxidant that helps to increase blood circulation. It also protects us from the effects of aging, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
11. Vitamin B2 helps to keep skin healthy and prevents acne breakout.
12. Vitamin B 5 has shown the capability to reduce oil formation and thus, reduce acne formation. It has also become very popular in the skincare industry because of its ability to assist in retaining moisture. It helps hydrate and hydrated skin appears plumper, healthier, and shows signs of aging much slower. Vitamin B5 is also needed for healthy growth and production to fight eczema.
13. Biotin is required to make skin, hair, and nails healthy. It also helps to treat specific skin diseases like seborrhea dermatitis, acne, and eczema.
14. Vitamin B and its multiple derivatives are used as a key product in anti-aging products. Niacin has been shown to improve the epidermis, the uppermost layer of the skin to retain moisture while nicotinamide, when applied topically reveals softer, smoother skin with less dryness and flakiness and reduction of fine lines.
15. It also protects against harmful UV rays from the sun that cause skin cancer.
16. Vitamin B also serves as an effective skin lightening agent. With regular usage, you can see your hyperpigmentation decreasing. It also makes a potential treatment for acne, rosacea, and any blister-causing diseases.
17. Vitamin B helps to reduce redness, scaliness, and other skin irritations.
18. Vitamin B also protects skin from getting puffy and it enhances the life span of cells.
19. Vitamin B enhances the permeation of blood and fluids into different areas of the skin so that the outer layers of the skin on our body can receive oxygen that is carried by the blood.
20. Vitamin B obtained from dairy products protects the skin from cracking and drying out.
C. Vitamin B For Hair Care:
Vitamin B has several benefits for the hair too. Vitamin prevents hair fall and promotes new hair growth. By including Vitamin B in your diet on a daily basis one can significantly improve your hair and achieve luster and shine.
21. If you are suffering from hair loss, include Vitamin B foods in your diet. For thick, strong, and shiny hair, you have to include ample amounts of vitamins and minerals in your diet. When a person lacks essential nutrients because of poor dietary habits, the hair is bound to become brittle, and thin with no shine or luster. In severe conditions, it can even lead to baldness.
22. Thiamine helps to improve the blood circulation of the scalp. This hastens the hair growth process and provides oxygen to hair follicles.
23. Vitamin B 12 is part of the structure of the hair, so maintaining the proper level of B12 will help to increase the overall health of the hair.
24. Vitamin B 6 has been shown to reduce the formation of Dihydrotestosterone which is a hormone that causes baldness in men and women. By inhibiting Dihydotestosteone Vitamin B6, thwarts hair loss and promotes healthy hair.
25. The antioxidant in vitamin B helps in the secretion of sebum in the scalp. It regulates the flow of sebum in the hair follicles, keeping the scalp moisturized and preventing dandruff.
26. Vitamin B is also important for the production of melanin. This helps maintain the natural color of hair and improves health of hair. Biotin is Vitamin B that prevents hair from greying and falling.
27. Biotin, present in Vitamin B plays an essential role in the production of fatty acids which is needed for fast cell growth. It drastically improves hair growth rates and makes hair thicker and stronger.
28. Vitamin B also improves the health of the scalp. When the scalp becomes healthier, it becomes slightly thicker and is less likely to be damaged. It also helps to increase the average size of the hair follicles.
D. Vitamin B For Nails
Nail requires a well-balanced, nutrient rich diet in order to grow and be healthy. Nail disorders like brittle nails, splitting of nails, nail discoloration, and pale and chipped nails are often caused due to Vitamin B deficiency. A number of Vitamin B derivatives are required for healthy nails.
29. Vitamin B 12 helps the body to absorb essential mineral iron which is necessary for healthy and strong nails. Mineral iron deficiency can lead to white and brittle nails that grow unevenly. Vitamin B 12 also plays a very important role in the formation of red blood cells, a deficiency of which can lead to pale and unsightly nails.
30. Folate is also important for the health and growth of nails as this helps in the development of new cells.
Thus Vitamin B is extremely important in our overall well-being. It improves our immunity system keeping us healthy along with awarding us with lovely skin and hair! Make sure you incorporate Vitamin B in your diet to reap all these benefits.