According to the Harvard School of Public Health, only a fraction of U.S. adults currently gets the recommended daily intake of all B vitamins from their diets alone. This could be due to a number of factors including normal aging, dietary choices or chronic digestive health issues.
“Vitamin B” actually refers to more than one vitamin, since there are eight different B vitamins in total. If you take a supplement that contains all eight of the B vitamins, this is referred to as a “vitamin B complex” or “B complex” formula. B vitamins are most valued for their ability to help turn other nutrients into energy, maintain a healthy metabolism, and for supporting nerve & brain function, liver function, skin health, and fetal growth/development during pregnancy.
You’re more likely to lack B vitamins in your diet if you avoid eating foods that are high in protein (such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs and dairy products), leafy green vegetables, seeds and legumes/beans. If this sounds like you, it’s essential to up your vitamin B intake in order to prevent health problems, such as low energy, poor memory, mood disorders and more.
What are B Vitamins?
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that are considered “essential,” meaning we must get them from our diet and supplementation because our bodies cannot make them on their own. The B vitamins that together make up the “vitamin B complex” include:
• vitamin B1 (also called thiamine)
• vitamin B2 (also called riboflavin)
• vitamin B3 (also called niacin)
• vitamin B5 (also called pantothenic acid)
• vitamin B6
• vitamin B7 (also called biotin)
• vitamin B9 (also called folate or folic acid)
• vitamin B12
The eight B vitamins have similar roles and chemical properties, although each has unique functions. For example, vitamin B6 is important for facilitating movement, memory, energy expenditure and blood flow, while vitamin B12 is needed for adrenal health, metabolic functions, enzyme production and hormone balance. Our bodies use vitamin B throughout the day, and we cannot store extra vitamin B that we’ve consumed, so we must replenish our supply often by eating vitamin B-rich foods or supplementing daily.
5 Health Benefits Of B Vitamins
1. Helps Maintain a Healthy Brain and Nervous System
Consuming adequate amounts has been linked to better memory function and healthy brain aging. B vitamins are needed to helps to produce neurotransmitters in your brain, which carry chemical signals throughout our entire body, affecting your mood, energy, appetite and more. Getting enough B vitamins from your diet and/or supplements can improve your ability to cope with stress and increase your overall sense of well being. B6 vitamin benefits also include helping with proper brain development and brain function and retaining cognitive health.
2. Helps Form Blood Cells and Nerves
B vitamins like vitamin B12 are essential in the production of blood cells in bone marrow and for forming nerve sheaths and proteins. Vitamin B is also needed for neurotransmitter signaling, which helps your muscles contract and gives you energy to go about your day.
3. Good For Your Heart
Folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 have been found to play a positive role in heart health.
These vitamins help convert homocysteine into methionine, an amino acid that helps the body build new proteins. Vitamin B5 also protects cardiovascular health by helping balance blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
4. Gives Us Energy and Supports Our Metabolism
B vitamins, including folate, play a key role in building DNA, the compound that forms our genetic blueprint and helps us develop from the time of conception. B vitamins are also needed for cellular metabolism and energy production. Many serve as coenzymes that are needed in various metabolic processes, such as those involves in the synthesis of fatty acids.
Deficiency in B vitamins can result in thyroid and adrenal complications — and thus create many negative symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain or loss, trouble sleeping, irritability, and more.
5. Supports Skin Health, Muscle Tone and Hair Growth
Because B vitamins support cellular rejuvenation, they can be beneficial for your skin, nails and hair. B vitamins can boost skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation, and acne blemishes. They also help repair wounds and support your immune system. Consuming adequate B vitamins may help reduce hair breakage and hair loss and can help nails become stronger. When it comes to gray or white hair, this is due to a decline in your hair’s pigmentation and is associated with aging. However, being deficiency in vitamin B12 may accelerate signs of aging and potentially contribute to graying hair.
Foods With B Vitamins
• Vitamin B1 foods — Nutritional yeast, seaweed like spirulina, sunflower seeds, macadamia nut, black beans, lentils, green peas, white beans and pinto beans.
• Vitamin B2 foods — liver, beef, seaweed, feta cheese, almonds, tempeh, mackerel, eggs, sesame seeds and goat cheese.
• Vitamin B3 foods — liver, chicken, sunflower seeds, beef, salmon, green peas, turkey, tahini, mushrooms and sardines.
• Vitamin B5 foods —beef, organ meats, beans and legumes, salmon, veal, certain nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds, avocado, portobello mushrooms, raw milk, and eggs.
• Vitamin B6 foods — beans, chicken, turkey, fish, beef, nutritional yeast, pinto beans, sunflower seeds, dark leafy greens, papayas, avocado, oranges, and cantaloupe.
• Vitamin B7 foods — meat, eggs, liver, whole grains, potatoes, beans and lentils, leafy greens, salmon, avocado, cauliflower, berries, and mushrooms.
• Vitamin B12 foods— animal products, such as fish, organ meats, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, and the plant-based product called nutritional yeast. Note: Vitamin B12 is mostly only found in animal products, which means those who avoid all animal foods (vegans) are at risk for deficiency.
• Folate foods — asparagus, beans, peas and lentils, eggs, leafy green, beets, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, papaya, spinach and broccoli.
Supplements With B Vitamins
Whenever possible, it’s best to get the level of B vitamins that you require each day through eating a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet. However, in our fast paced world, this isn’t realistic for most of us so taking a supplement with high quality B Vitamins is also a great way to accomplish this goal. You can find B vitamins in most of Procera’s products including Procera Essentials Immune Multi (full B Vitamin complex) and Procera Advanced Brain (contains 7 of the 8 B Vitamins).