Posted on Dec 01, 2020, 3 p.m.
Maintaining good nutrition is linked to good health as well as prevention and treatment of many health conditions. Ensuring that one is receiving the daily recommended vitamin and mineral is an important part of good nutrition, and the B vitamins are essential for preventive care.
B vitamins help to promote a healthy metabolism and they are linked to a reduced risk of stroke according to research. B vitamins are abundant in green vegetables, dairy, meats, eggs, legumes, certain fruits, seeds, nuts and whole or enriched grains.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays roles in nerve function, the formation of red blood cells and the production of DNA according to the Mayo Clinic. Most people get enough B12 in a varied balanced diet, but those who are vegetarian or vegan are at risk for a deficiency as well as those with GI disorders and elderly adults. Signs of a deficiency in this vitamin include but are not limited to: anemia, confusion, dementia, depression, fatigue, difficulty with balance, intestinal issues, moodiness, weak muscles, poor memory, sore mouth/tongue, and numbness/tingling in the hands and feet.
Vitamin B6 is important to normal brain development and for keeping the immune system and nervous system functioning properly. While most get enough of this vitamin with a balanced varied diet certain illnesses can lead to a deficiency which can result in a reduction of red blood cells that take oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Those with a deficiency may experience confusion, depression and a weakened immune system among other symptoms.
Those with B vitamin deficiencies are known to experience anxiety, depression, and mood swings; and studies show that many with these symptoms have lower levels of folate in their blood. Vitamin B9 (folate) is at the forefront when it comes to mood management, this vitamin can be found in green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, peanuts, citrus fruit, and other legumes. The FDA began requiring manufacturers to add folic acid to enriched bread, cereals, flours, cornmeal, pasta, rice and other grain products in 1998.
B vitamins have roles in metabolism, maintaining healthy skin and hair, and have been linked to a lower incidence of stroke. Vitamin B supplements were linked to a lowered risk of stroke by 7% in a study that included over 50,000 subjects that was published in the journal Neurology.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) plays important roles in metabolizing food into energy according to the NIH. This vitamin can readily be found in whole-grain cereal, yeast, beans, nuts and meats. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause beriberi which is a disease that affects the heart, digestive system and nervous system that is often found in those who are malnourished as well as those who are heavy alcohol drinkers. Symptoms include but are not limited to difficulty walking, loss of sensation to the hands and feet, paralysis of the lower legs, and congestive heart failure.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps to boost the immune system which can be found from natural sources such as nuts, green vegetables, meat and dairy products. This vitamin helps the body to break down and use fats, carbs, and protein in your diet and helps to metabolize food into energy. It also functions to help keep your skin, lining of the gut and blood cells healthy, and according to the NIH, it may be preventive for migraine headaches and cataracts while helping to increase energy levels, treat acne, muscle cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome, and boosting the immune system.
Vitamin B3 (niacin/nicotinic acid) helps the body to break down food into energy, and it is found in legumes, nuts, enriched breads, dairy, fish and lean meats. A deficiency can cause pellagra disorder, symptoms can include physical and mental difficulty, diarrhea, inflamed mucus membranes and dementia. Alcoholism can also cause the body not to be able to absorb enough niacin which can also result in pellagra.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is a key to healthy hormones, and this vitamin can be found in vegetables of the cabbage family like kale and broccoli, avocado, whole grain cereals, dairy, potatoes, and organ meats. This water-soluble vitamin is required for many of the biochemical reactions that occur in our cells including the breakdown of carbs and lipids for energy. It is also necessary for our body to produce hormones and growth.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can be found in beans, bananas, bran, brown rice, beef liver, carrots, cheese, chicken, fortified cereals, lentils, milk, salmon, shrimp, spinach, sunflower seeds, tuna, turkey, wheat germ, and whole-grain flour. Along with the uses for this vitamin discussed a few paragraphs before, more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body’s cells need this vitamin that also helps us to metabolize amino acids from food and build new red blood cells. This vitamin may also help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Deficiency is rare in America, but it can cause muscle weakness, depression, irritability, short-term memory loss, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating.
Along with the previous paragraph on vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), this vitamin is essential to building blood cells and maintaining healthy nerve cells. This nutrient is not naturally occurring in plant foods leaving vegans and vegetarians lacking for it in their diet. As much as 15% of Americans are estimated to have a deficiency in this vitamin which can lead to anemia. Symptoms of a deficiency can include but are not limited to weakness, fatigue, constipation, weight loss, and loss of appetite. A deficiency in this vitamin can be damaging to the nervous system and can cause depression, confusion, and dementia.
Revisiting vitamin B9 (folic acid/folate), according to the NIH this nutrient is necessary for growth and development. Naturally occurring folate can be found in many sources including dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, nuts, oranges, beans, peas, and fortified foods such as cereals and bread. Teens and women who are pregnant may have difficulty getting enough folate which is vital to health and development, getting enough folate will help to prevent neural tube, brain and spine birth defects in babies to promote healthy growth.
It is recommended that before you begin taking vitamin B complex, any B vitamin supplement, or any dietary supplement that you first be sure to talk to your certified healthcare provider. It is also worth noting that taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason, you may want to discuss a B-complex vitamin, which includes all the B vitamins.
Materials provided by:
Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement