Vitamin B comes in many shapes, sizes, and even types.
Any everyday act you complete is reliant on B vitamins to complete. From memory function to the formation of red blood cells, vitamin B is a real game-changer for anyone — not just neuropathy sufferers.
On top of this, adequate amounts of vitamin B from whole foods provide you with energy and a plethora of health benefits. However, B vitamins aren’t always accessible in all foods.
There are a lot of plant foods that contain B vitamins (spinach, leafy greens, etc) however, they also contain unique inhibitors that can block the minerals and vitamins (B) from entering your body after consumption. One trick is to actually lightly steam your vegetables prior to eating.
One more note before you start reading: all B vitamins are water soluble. This means that the excess vitamins your body will simply be excreted.
Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin
This vitamin is responsible for the formation of red blood cells as well as the overall health of your nerves. Unfortunately, deficiencies in vitamin B that go undetected or untreated may lead to permanent nerve damage, anemia, and permanent brain damage.
One interesting fact is that this vitamin is found in larger amounts in animal products as opposed to vegetables. This causes vegetarians and vegans to often suffer from cobalamin deficiency quite often.
Read more: NCBI cobalmin study.
- Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin
- Vitamin B12 deficiencies may lead to very serious bodily harm
- Vitamin B12 is common in supplements
- Vitamin B12 is more common in animal products as opposed to vegetables
Vitamin B9 – Folate
You may have seen the word folate thrown around with the words folic acid. Although they are quite different, their names are often used interchangeably with one another.
Before we get into the difference between the two, let’s discuss B9 in general.
B9 is an essential vitamin that presents itself naturally as folate.
Having a B9 deficiency can be extremely detrimental to your health. The following risks are associated with a B9 vitamin deficiency:
- Cancer: Low levels of B9 (folate) have been linked to cancer in the body.
- Birth Defects: Low levels of B9 (folate) have been linked to women giving birth to children with birth abnormalities.
- Increased homocysteine levels: Low levels of B9 (folate) have been linked to increased levels of homocysteines — in turn, this increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Supplementing and fortifying foods with B9 is extremely common and is actually mandatory in some countries such as the United States, Canada, and Chile. The problem with this food fortification is that they are usually “fortifying” with folic acid opposed to folate.
The naturally-occurring form of vitamin B9 is called folate. Before it enters the bloodstream, the gastrointestinal system converts vitamin B9 into levomefolic acid (also known as 5-MTHF).
Folic acid is the synthetic version of the B9 vitamin, known as pteroylmonoglumatic acid. Folic acid is what is used to fortify foods in some countries, however, it doesn’t absorb as quickly and efficiently as naturally-occurring folate.
Also, folic acid can’t be converted into 5-MTHF in the digestive system like folate can, so it must be converted in the liver. This process is extremely slow and lacks efficiency.
It is so slow and inefficient that unmetabolized folic acid is commonly found in the bloodstreams of the common individual. This doesn’t sound too concerning, but un-metabolized folic acid has been associated with several health problems.
- Vitamin B9 is commonly taken as a supplement
- Vitamin B9 is commonly added to processed foods in the United States
- Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient
- Vitamin B9 can present as either folate or folic acid
Read more: Folic Acid Handling By the Human Gut Study
Vitamin B7 – Biotin
Vitamin B7 (also known as vitamin H) is responsible for easing the symptoms of nerve damage, hair loss, adrenal function, as well as help metabolize carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B7 can be found in eggs, bananas, and milk.
Vitamin B7 is an all-around team player — it is used as a co-factor in conjunction with other enzymes to ensure the enzyme functions properly. Without biotin, many health risks may occur such as:
- G.I. tract damage
- nerve damage
- diseases of the skin
- Vitamin B7 works with enzymes to make sure they work properly
- Vitamin B7 helps the body function
- Vitamin B7 is commonly taken in supplement form
Read more: Vitamin B7 for Metabolism
Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine
The B6 vitamin is known as pyridoxine. Pyridoxine is known to help the brain in various ways as well as help the body metabolize proteins and carbohydrates. This vitamin is typically found in foods such as cereals, beans, vegetables, eggs, liver, and meat.
Vitamin B6 is active an more than 150 enzyme reactions in the human body. Enzyme reactions help your body process the 3 major macronutrients we consume, such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
On top of this, vitamin B6 has been known:
- To contain anti-inflammatory properties
- To be closely related to fighting cancer
- To be closely related to fighting heart disease
- To be closely related to the function of the immune system
- To be closely related to the function of the nervous system
- Vitamin B6 helps the brain function
- Vitamin B6 helps fight various diseases
- Vitamin B6 is often taken in a supplement form
Vitamin B5 – Pantothenate
Vitamin B5 is required to produce red blood cells as well as metabolize protein and carbohydrates. Some of the best sources of vitamin B5 are:
- sweet potatoes
Strangely enough, B5 is a vitamin that the majority of people are rarely deficient in.
However, being deficient in vitamin B5 isn’t detrimental to your health alone. However, when individuals are deficient in one B vitamin, they are usually deficient in another.
Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for that aren’t generally associated with a low B5 level but that are associated with vitamins related to B5:
- gut problems
- impaired muscle coordination
- impaired hand-eye coordination
- Vitamin B5 is found largely in vegetables
- Having low B5 levels can’t harm you
- Having low B5 levels often tells you that your other B vitamin levels are low as well.
- Vitamin B5 is commonly taken as a supplement
Vitamin B3 – Niacin
Niacin actually comes in two forms: nicotinic acid and niacinamide (nicotinamide). They share similarities and differences with one another, however, they can both be found in our food and supplements.
Nicotinic acid is the main form of niacin that is used to treat heart disease as well as high cholesterol. Its compounds have been used for the treatment of high lipid disorders as well.
Read More: Mechanism of Action of Niacin Study
Niacinamide (nicotinamide) acid
This form of niacin is known as niacinamide acid and it is commonly used to treat various skin conditions, schizophrenia, as well as type 1 diabetes. However, it has its main difference from nicotinic acid: it does not lower cholesterol.
- Vitamin B3 has different names: niacin, nicotinic acid, niacinamide, and nicotinamide.
- Vitamin B3 is commonly taken in supplement form
Read More: Niacin Therapy
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
Vitamin B2 is commonly called riboflavin. Like many of the other B vitamins, riboflavin is naturally present in some foods while some are added to the foods. The B2 vitamin is essential to the function of two major coenzymes: FMN (flavin mononucleotide) and FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide). These coenzymes contribute a massive function to our bodies:
- increased energy production
- cellular function
- metabolism of fat, steroids, and drugs
Fun fact: riboflavin is yellow and naturally fluorescent when exposed to ultraviolet light.
- Vitamin B2 is vital for human growth
- Vitamin B2 is essential to the function of coenzymes
- Vitamin B2 is commonly take in supplement form
Read More: Riboflavin Fact Sheet
Vitamin B1 – Thiamine
Thiamine, or B1, is used by almost every single cell in your body. These cells require B1 to complete tasks such as converting food into energy. Thiamine is typically found in rich foods such as meats, nuts, and whole grains.
Low levels of thiamine are hardly heard of in modern developed countries, but various factors may make you more susceptible, such as:
- diuretic use in high-dosage
- bariatric surgery
- old age
- alcohol dependence
- Vitamin B1 is essential
- Vitamin B1 is often taken in supplement form
- One common symptom of low B1 levels is a major loss in appetite.
Read More: Thiamin Fact Sheet
B Vitamins are essential for all humans to function. They’re easily purchased in supplement form, fortified into our foods, and they are even all water soluble! The body isn’t great at storing B vitamins and the need for them is drastically increased by unhealthy diets, work, stress, illness, alcohol, and drugs.
As always, please consult your doctor prior to making any changes to your current lifestyle.
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