Vitamin B complex refers to the eight B vitamins that play an important role in converting food into fuel, staying energized and supporting a healthy metabolism. What are the health benefits of B complex vitamins and how do you know if you’re getting enough?
Am I getting enough B vitamins?
The B complex vitamins are: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), cobalamin (B12). Many everyday foods are rich in B vitamins, but some individuals may be deficient without even knowing it.
“Although many people take in adequate amounts of vitamin B from the foods they eat, I see many serious cases of B vitamin deficiencies in my practice, especially in aging populations and people who are under a lot of stress,” said Brent Agin, M.D., founding physician at TeleWellnessMD. “These individuals often experience symptoms that slow them down - namely fatigue, lack of mental clarity and a weakened immune system.”
It’s true that older adults and other groups - including pregnant women and vegetarians - need larger amounts of some types of vitamin B. Certain health conditions and lifestyle factors can also result in poor absorption of vitamin B. Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, alcohol and drug abuse can all lead to inadequate intake of vitamin B.
Genetic variations can also influence how our bodies metabolize and use certain nutrients, such as MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) mutation - a gene variation that can impact how well your body metabolizes folate and folic acid. Without the enzyme activity of MTHFR, methylation of folate and folic acid cannot occur properly, causing many undesirable symptoms and increased risk of illness and disease.
Dr. Agin says the right supplementation routine can correct these deficiencies and eliminate the undesirable symptoms. "Our patients with MTHFR mutations have had great outcomes supplementing with Methylcobalamin B12".
The health benefits of B vitamins
On their own, each of the B complex vitamins has its own list of healthy benefits from improving skin elasticity to migraine prevention. Check out this list including foods to eat to get your B vitamins naturally.
Vitamin B1 helps the body make healthy new cells and is required for carbohydrate metabolism, normal functioning of the nervous system and protecting the immune system. Studies show B 1 is essential for carbohydrate metabolism, so don’t carb load without it!
Just eat it: Vitamin B1 is abundant in foods such as whole grains, peanuts, beans, spinach and kale
Vitamin B2 works as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals. It helps maintain skin elasticity and assists the body in processing proteins, carbs and fats - releasing energy from carbohydrates. Vitamin B2 is also important for red blood cell production, which is necessary for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Some research supports B2 as having therapeutic benefits for migraines.
Just eat it: Almonds, wild rice, milk, yogurt, eggs, Brussels sprouts and spinach are just a few riboflavin rich foods that are likely in your kitchen right now. Eat them!
Niacin enhances insulin secretion and increases insulin sensitivity. It helps boost HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). It also assists with metabolizing protein carbs and fats. It is also considered to be helpful with arthritis and can be used to treat acne - both topically and ingested.
Just eat it: Red meat, milk, eggs, beans and green vegetables are all natural sources of niacin.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B5 is an essential nutrient required for the metabolism and synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for energy. It promotes healthy skin and produces stress and sex hormones including testosterone.
Just eat it: Avocados, yogurt, eggs, meat and legumes are all great sources of vitamin B5.
Vitamin B6 is essential in the formation of healthy red blood cells and supports more vital bodily functions than any other vitamin. It is needed to release energy from the food we eat and is required for the production of melatonin (a sleep hormone), norepinephrine (a stress hormone) and seratonin, a neurotransmitter that controls mood, appetite, sleep patterns and pain sensitivity. Along with fellow B vitamins 12 and 9, B6 helps regulate levels of the amino acid homocysteine (associated with heart disease). Vitamin B6 has been found to reduce inflammation for people with conditions like rheumatioid arthritis.
Just eat it: Chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, eggs, beans, bananas, nuts, seeds, lentils, cheese, bread, brown rice, potatoes and carrots are all full of vitamin B6.
Biotin, also known as “the beauty vitamin,” promotes healthy hair skin and nails. It helps synthesize amino acids and fatty acids and may help people with diabetes control high blood glucose levels, too.
Just eat it: Biotin is abundant in pork, chicken, fish, potatoes, cauliflower, egg yolks and nuts.
Vitamin B9 is also known as folic acid which is the synthetic form commonly found in supplements and fortified foods. Folate is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. It also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Studies suggest folate may prevent depression and memory loss.
Just eat it: Get your daily dose of folate by loading up on leafy greens, asparagus, beets, salmon, root vegetables, milk, and beans.
Vitamin B12 been used to treat pernicious anemia diabetic, peripheral neuropathy and also appears to have therapeutic benefits for people with autism spectrum disorders. Vitamin B12 is an essential component for proper digestion and absorption of foods and for normal metabolism of carbohydrates and fat. It aids in maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells and is needed to make DNA. Vitamin B12 is also involved in homocysteine metabolism and plays a critical role in proper energy metabolism, immune function, and nerve function. While most people can get adequate amounts of B12 through diet, vegetarian diets, poor nutrition habits, and the use of certain medications can lead to deficiencies. Muscle weakness, spasms,
ataxia (unsteady gait and shaky movements), incontinence, hypotension, vision problems, and
hypotension dementia are all symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. For those who are deficient, it may be necessary to supplement the diet with B12.
Just eat it: Fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, beef and pork are all foods rich in vitamin B12.
TeleWellnessMD providers recommend Vitamin B Complex injection to boost energy and promote a healthy metabolism. Download the free TeleWellnessMD Nutrient Injection Guide to learn more about nutrient injection therapy.
B-Complex therapies available at TeleWellnessMD®:
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