Importance of B Vitamins


...elusive dreamer
Apr 5, 2009
Understanding the Importance of B Vitamins

Article by BStone

A team of essential nutrients, known as the b-complex vitamins, works together to maintain the optimum level of health. Long-term deficiencies of one or more of the b-vitamins can manifest as mild problems such as headaches and inflammation, to more serious ailments like depression and dementia.

The Benefits of B-Complex Vitamins

The b-complex vitamins are a set of vitamins which act primarily as coenzymes, facilitating enzymes to work within the body, setting off dozes of chemical reactions. They are grouped together not only because of their similar characteristics, but because they work together, sometimes dependent on one another for a particular function, and other times enhancing each other to allow for a major bodily function.

Exactly what do b vitamins do? Each one of these nutrients has its own individual purposes as well as shared ones. No single one can the body do without, and one b-complex vitamin cannot be substituted for another. As a group, the benefits of b vitamins include energy production, fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism, nerve and brain health, and the prevention of anxiety and depression.

As we age, these vitamins become increasingly difficult to absorb. They are readily available in a wide variety of foods, but b vitamin supplements should be a consideration as we become older, especially since the b-complex vitamins may play a vital role in preventing or slowing memory loss, dementia, and other mental degeneration. The b vitamins are always more effective taken as a whole; a b-complex supplement as opposed to a thiamine (vitamin B1) supplement.

List of B Vitamins

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) This nutrient helps with blood circulation and blood cell formation, carbohydrate metabolism, and digestion through the production of hydrochloric acid. It also improves cognitive ability, making it easier to learn and process information. Thiamine also serves as an antioxidant in the body, neutralizing free radicals.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Like thiamine, riboflavin also contributes to blood cell formation and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as protein and fat metabolism. This b vitamin helps the body absorb both iron and vitamin b6. It is an essential mineral for eye health, minimizing eye fatigue and is beneficial for cataracts. Riboflavin is necessary for cellular respiration and growth. It is a vital nutrient for a growing fetus.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Niacin works with thiamin to promote healthy blood circulation and to produce hydrochloric acid. It is another b vitamin that contributes to metabolism. Its specific strengths are sex hormone synthesis, the lowering of cholesterol, and enhancing memory.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) This b vitamin is the official anti-stress nutrient, helping with adrenal gland function and enhancing stamina. It helps the body produce antibodies to protect itself from disease and neurotransmitters to help with brain function.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Pyridoxine is a powerhouse nutrient, taking part in more activity than almost any vitamin or mineral, contributing to both physical and mental well-being. Like many of the other b vitamins, it helps with hydrochloric acid production, blood cell formation, antibody production, and nerve and brain health. It also regulates the sodium-potassium balance, aids in vitamin b12 absorption, and is needed for the synthesis of RNA and DNA. Pyridoxine, along with folate and vitamin b12, blocks homocysteine. High homocysteine levels in the body are associated with heart disease because this compound goes after the heart muscle and encourages cholesterol deposits around the heart.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate) Folate, also known as folic acid, is essential for blood cell formation, energy production, RNA, DNA, and protein synthesis, and homocysteine conversion. Folate is one of the most important vitamins during and before pregnancy as it is necessary for proper fetal nerve cell formation.
  • Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin) Methylcobalamin is really a set of compounds called cobalamins. They are like the hemoglobin found in red blood cells, but they contain cobalt as opposed to iron. This b vitamin may help with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis because it helps regenerate damaged nerves, something almost unheard of in essential nutrients. It plays a roll in metabolism, blood cell formation, digestion, cell formation, and homocysteine conversion.

Foods Rich in B Vitamins

Except for brewer's yeast, there is not one single food that contains all of the b-complex vitamins, although there are several foods that contain all but one. Eggs are one of the best foods rich in b vitamins, while alfalfa is the most well-rounded herb. Sources of at least four different b vitamins include mushrooms, chicken, meat, fish, cheese, milk, yogurt, whole grains, wheat germ, peas, green leafy vegetables, and broccoli. Vitamin b12, it is important to keep in mind, is almost solely found in animal sources. Vegetarians should consider a supplement, or eat brewer's yeast, soy, or sea vegetables such as kelp, on a regular basis.

For the optimum level of health, increased energy, and mental well-being, it is important to eat a variety of these foods to ensure an adequate amount of each b-complex vitamin. While supplements can be beneficial, particularly in old age, several b vitamins, such as niacin and pyridoxine, can become toxic in high doses. There are seemingly endless benefits of b vitamins; that doesn't mean however, that an excess will yield an excess of benefits.

Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Group, 2006).

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perpetual student
Dec 3, 2007
Texas, USA
Good one k2c.

As I've said several times, B5 is the second most important nutrient for the adrenal glands. Vitamin C is the first. I think it is important to supplement with the B complex daily. So what if I might be getting enough through diet? I don't care. Most likely, I am not.

I have a retired psychologist friend who always recommends this supplement to his patients. He still works with children in his retirement. Since he is not a psychiatrist, he does not write prescriptions. He has seen remarkable improvement in his patients who actually use vitamin B, and believes there is no need for prescription drugs in most cases.