Vitamin B Complex Benefits, Sources and Deficiency
Vitamin B complex is a group of 12 related water-soluble substances. The eight water-soluble vitamins including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), biotin (B7), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), and cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12).
These eight are considered the essential vitamins because they need to be definitely included in the diet. Four are not essential because the body can synthesize them. The four unnumbered components of the B complex that can be synthesized by the body are choline, inositol, PABA, and lipoic acid.
Sources of B complex
Although prevalent in many foods, natural sources high in B complex vitamins include meat and dairy products.
- Dark green, leafy vegetables are excellent sources of folic acid (B9).
- Cobalamin (B12 – essential to healthy red blood cell count) can be derived only from animal sources. For this reason, strict vegetarians are encouraged toward B complex supplementation.
Unless some type of deficiency is present, or an individual has a problem absorbing B complex vitamins, sufficient amounts of B complex vitamins can be obtained from diet alone. However, B complex supplements are used every day by millions looking to balance diet.
Benefits of Vitamin B Complex:
Each member of the B-complex has a unique structure and performs unique functions in the human body. These vitamins are vital for:
- Lustrous hair
- B6 is essential for amino acid metabolism
- B12 and folic acid facilitate cell division
- Good vision
- Folic acid, pyridoxine, and cobalamin work together to keep homocysteine levels low, as high homocysteine levels lead to heart disease.
- Prevent certain birth defects such as cleft palate and neural tube defects, maintain healthy red blood cells, and may have a role in preventing certain types of cancer.
- Avoiding any mouth infections
- Proper functioning of liver
- The breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose so as to provide energy to the body.
- Helps tone stomach muscles and those of the intestinal tract
- Healthy skin
- The breakdown of fats and proteins to aid the normal functioning of the nervous system.
Daily requirement of Vitamin B Complex
Daily requirement of the B-complex varies considerably – from 3 mg per day for vitamin B12 to about 18 mg per day for vitamin B3 in adult males.
Vitamin B deficiency:
The Vitamin B requirement of different individuals varies according to the intensity of activity and loss of nutrients in sweat and through urine, especially after strenuous exercise. Many people involved in high-level sports or physical activity are unaware of the impact of vitamin B complex in their diet – a poor diet lacking in important micro nutrients may have severe detrimental effects on a person’s health and professional potential.
Several deficiency diseases may result from the lack of B-vitamins.
- Vitamin B1 deficiency causes beriberi, weight loss, emotional disturbances, swelling of bodily tissues, amnesia.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) deficiency causes cracks in the lips, high sensitivity to sunlight, inflammation of the tongue, syphilis.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) deficiency causes pellagra, mental confusion and even death.
- Vitamin B6 deficiency may lead to anaemia, dermatitis, high blood pressure.
- Vitamin B7 deficiency may lead to impaired growth and neurological disorders in infants.
- Folic acid deficiency in pregnant women can lead to birth defects.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency causes pernicious anaemia, memory loss and other cognitive diseases.
Causes of Vitamin B deficiency
- Stress whether mental or physical.
- Increased intake of processed foods.
- Refined sugar robs the body of its vitamin B stores.
- Drugs deplete vitamin B in the body.
- Toxins – environmental pollution as well as personal care products deplete vitamin B complex
- Cooking as vitamin B is killed or depleted in foods that are overcooked.
Vitamin B complex deficiency and symptoms
Because B complex vitamins occur in food in abundance, two prevalent ways to become deficient in B complex vitamins are a poor dietary intake of foods which contain B complex vitamins and physical problems absorbing B complex vitamins.
- Poor dietary intake of B complex vitamins (most frequent among strict vegetarians and the malnourished) can be offset with vitamin B supplementation.
- Poor absorption of B complex vitamins may result from thyroid dysfunction and the lack of Intrinsic Factor in the stomach (common to the elderly and those who abuse alcohol and tobacco).
Vitamin B complex deficiency can occur at varied levels in different individuals. Signs include poor skin, hair and nail health, memory loss, nervousness, profound fatigue, sleep disturbances, nausea, poor appetite, frequent infections and mood disorders. It’s advisable to search the Internet for more extensive information regarding the specifics of B complex vitamin deficiency or consult a nutritionist or physician.
Vitamin B complex toxicity and adverse effects
For the most part, excessive amounts of water-soluble vitamins, such as B complex vitamins, are excreted as waste when not used by the body for energy, resulting in little chance of toxicity when taken in large amounts. Adverse effects of B complex vitamins have been reported as rare and minor. Literature does suggest, however, that:
- Too high levels of niacin (B3) in the body may result in inflammation of the liver and high blood sugar levels.
- High doses of pyridoxine (B6) may inflame the liver as well and damage nerve cells.
It is advisable for those with high blood pressure, chronic health conditions or individuals who take seizure medications to consult a physician prior to starting a regimen of B complex supplementation, as certain drug interactions may result.
What can be done to overcome Vitamin B deficiency?
- Avoid eating refined sugar.
- Reduce stress through a regular exercise, meditation.
- Avoid drinking too much of coffee or tea
- Eat more vitamin B containing foods such as oats, barley, wheat bran, leafy veggies, nuts.
- Avoid toxins such as alcohol, tobacco.
5 Reasons You Need Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B Complex is needed for the proper functioning of almost every process in the body. Here are my 5 top reasons you need to get plenty of B Complex vitamins in your diet.
1. Energy Production
Vitamin B1 is needed to help convert the carbohydrates we eat into glucose.
The following B Vitamins are needed at a cellular level to convert glucose into energy – Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6 and Biotin. A Vitamin B deficiency in any of these vitamins can lead to decreased energy production, lethargy and fatigue.
2. Healthy Nervous system
The Vitamin B Complex is essential for the healthy functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B5 is needed for the correct functioning of the adrenal glands and the production of some hormones and nerve regulating substances. Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 are essential for the regulation and correct functioning of the entire nervous system including brain function. Vitamin B9 is essential to prevent neural tube defects to the foetus during pregnancy. A deficiency in any of the Vitamin B Complex vitamins can lead to feeling stressed, anxious and depressed.
3. Good Digestion
The Vitamin B Complex is essential for correct digestion, production of HCl (Hydrochloric acid) and to assist in the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Especially vital for good digestion are Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6. A deficiency in any of these B Vitamins can lead to impaired digestion and deficiency of essential nutrients.
4.Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
The Vitamin B Complex is essential for correct RNA and DNA synthesis and cell reproduction. As our Skin, Hair and Nails are constantly growing and renewing themselves we need the following B vitamins to ensure the good health of these structures – Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12, Biotin and Choline. Deficiencies of any of these B Vitamins can lead to dry, grey skin, dermatitis, wrinkles, acne, rashes, falling hair and weak, splitting nails.
The B Vitamins work so closely with one other that a deficiency in any one B Vitamin can lead to poor functioning of any or all of the others even if they are in good supply. Always take the B Vitamins in a Complex and then top up with any individual Vitamin B, if needed.