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.

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.

Sources of Vitamin B Complex –

A well balanced diet should provide us with all the B vitamins we require, but because they are water soluble and therefore not retained by the body, we need a daily dietary source.

Vitamins B1 and B2 found in cereals, whole grains, potatoes, seafood, liver, and kidney beans.

Vitamin B3 is found in liver, fish, chicken, nuts, whole grains, and dried beans. Vitamin B5 is found in almost all foods. Fish, chicken, potatoes, wheat germ, bananas, and dried beans are good sources of vitamin B6. Vitamin B7 is present in peanuts, liver, egg yolk, bananas, watermelon, and grapefruit. Green leafy vegetables, liver, citrus fruits, nuts, peas, dried beans, and wheat bread contain vitamin B9. Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, meat, poultry, milk, and dairy products.

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. These include –

· 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

· Malnutrition.

· Cooking as vitamin B is killed or depleted in foods that are overcooked.

Symptoms of Vitamin B Complex deficiency –

Vitamin B complex deficiency shows symptoms such as:

· mental problems

· heart palpitations

· indigestion

· chronic fatigue

· nervousness

· inability to concentrate

· insomnia

· tingling fingers and toes

· rashes

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.