The Benefits of B Vitamins
by Mia James
B vitamins are critical to our health and well-being—and most of us don’t get enough of them.
Understanding B Vitamins
There are actually eight B vitamins and you may know them by number or by name.
- B1 or thiamin
- B2 or riboflavin
- B3 or niacin
- B5 or pantothenic acid
- B6 or pyridoxine
- B7 or biotin
- B9 or folic acid (or folate)
- B12 or cobalamin
Together, the group of B vitamins is referred to as vitamin B complex. These water-soluble vitamins are critical to cell metabolism. The B vitamins play several important roles in the body, including:
- Promoting cell growth and division
- Maintaining healthy skin and muscle tone
- Supporting and increasing the rate of metabolism
- Enhancing immune and nervous system function
- Easing stress
- Improving mood
How B Vitamins Work
The B vitamins work together as a team. Some of them help cells burn fats and glucose for energy, while others help with the production of serotonin. These eight vitamins work intricately together behind the scenes with amazing results. Some of the benefits of B vitamins include:
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- Improved mood
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Reduced PMS symptoms
- Improved memory
B Vitamin Deficiency
With the right diet, it should be easy to get the proper amount of B vitamins, but many of us do not. If you’re under a lot of stress or consume a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar, you’ll need even more B vitamins. A deficiency in B vitamins can result in a litany of symptoms, including:
- Hair loss
- Muscle cramping
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness and tingling in arms and legs
Deficiencies in folic acid, B12, and B6 are most common. If you’re feeling moody, anxious, or depressed, this could be an indicator that you are running low on B vitamins.
Sources of B Vitamins
It is important to ensure that your diet contains plenty of B-rich foods, such as dark, leafy greens, animal protein, and whole grains. Some people will find they still need to supplement with a B complex vitamin—especially vegetarians or vegans who consume no animal products, as animal products are the only natural source of B12.
Good sources of B vitamins include:
- Dairy products
- Dark, leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach, etc.)
- Whole grains