Referred to as the “B Complex,” the eight essential B Vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 – play an important roll in keeping our bodies energized throughout the day. While the B Vitamins often work in tandem, each one has its own specific benefits. It’s important to not become deficient in these important Vitamins, so check out what each of them can do for your body below and how you can incorporate more B Vitamin-rich foods into your daily diet. I also choose to take a B Complex supplement several times a week to keep my body’s supply of this important Vitamin strong. (I take Whole Foods “B Daily Essentials”)
B1 (Thiamine) Thiamine’s main function is to help metabolize carbohydrates, turning sugars and starches into the energy our bodies need. This vitamin also helps the body create new cells as well as protect the immune system. Good dietary sources include: Legumes (Beans & Lentils), Whole Grain Breads & Cereals, Oatmeal, Rice Bran, Wheat Germ, Nuts, Seeds, Oranges. Thiamine deficiency is common in people who consume a lot of alcohol, coffee, tea, raw seafood, antacids, carbonated beverages, diuretics, tobacco, and barbiturates.
B2 (Riboflavin) Riboflavin is known for supporting the Adrenal System, calming and maintaining a healthy nervous system, as well as aiding in metabolic processes including cell regeneration. Riboflavin also works as an antioxidant, fighting off free radicals to help reduce the signs of aging as well as prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This vitamin is thought to help people suffering from migraines, cataracts, depression, and anemia. Good dietary sources include: Eggs, Enriched fortified Cereals and Grains, Meats, Dark Greens (Spinach, Asparagus, Broccoli, Turnip Greens), Fish, Buckwheat, Almonds, Wild Rice, and Brussels Sprouts.
B3 (Niacin) Niacin is essential for the metabolism of Carbohydrates & Fats. It also helps raise HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol. The higher the HDL, the lower the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in the blood, which means a reduced risk of heart disease. Niacin may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Osteoarthritis. Good dietary sources include: Salmon, Tuna, Leafy Vegetables, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Tomatoes, Avocados, Nuts, Whole Grains, Legumes, and Mushrooms.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Small amounts of B5 are found in almost every food group. In addition to breaking down Fats & Carbs for energy, it’s responsible for the production of sex and stress-related hormones. Pantothenic Acid also promotes healthy skin, reducing redness, aging, and skin spots. Good dietary sources include: Avocado, Legumes, Shitake Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes, Lentils, and Broccoli.
B6 (Pyridoxine) This vitamin helps with brain health by aiding in the production of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that allow brain and nerve cells to communicate with one another. Therefore, B6 helps people with depression, ADHD, and memory loss. Other conditions that can be improved by B6 include Arthritis, PMS, Kidney Stones, Lung Cancer, Acne, and Carpal Tunnel. Good dietary sources include: Bananas, Cereal Grains, Legumes, Carrots, Spinach, Peas, Potatoes, Fish, Sunflower Seeds.
B7 (Biotin) You might have tried Biotin to improve your skin, hair, and nail health. But Biotin also helps keep blood glucose levels in check (which is extremely important for those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes), as well as help with the development of a fetus in the mother’s womb. Good dietary sources include: Cauliflower, Green Peas, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Bananas, Strawberries, Raspberries, Watermelon, Grapefruit, Oats, Brown Rice, Egg Yolks, Meat Livers, and Salmon.
B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) B9 is essential for human growth and development, so it’s important for pregnant women and those thinking about becoming pregnant to have plenty of Folic Acid. Folic Acid may also help in preventing colon, lung, and cervix cancer, memory loss, heart disease, and stroke. Good dietary sources include: Asparagus, Mushrooms, Bananas, Melons, Lemons, Beets, Dark Leafy Greens, and Beans/Legumes.
B12 (Cobalamin) B12 is one of the most talked about B Vitamins, as it’s easy to become deficient if you are a strict Vegetarian or Vegan. Why So? Because it is the only B Vitamin that cannot be produced by either plants or animals, it’s only produced by fungi and bacteria. Animals, unlike plants, are able to store the B12 bacteria in their bodies, which is then transferred to humans who consume the animal meat/products. B12 helps with Neurological function, the building of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis. Good dietary sources include: Salmon, Sardines, Mushrooms, Tuna, Cod, Lamb, Scallops, Beef, and Dairy.