What Is Vitamin B?
B vitamins are essential for maintaining optimal health. There are eight well-known B-vitamins that play a significant role in the body: thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, biotin (vitamin B7), folate (vitamin B9) and vitamin B12. This group of vitamin B is called vitamin B complex.
What Does Vitamin B Do?
Vitamins B is responsible for assisting the body’s cells to function properly. They help a variety of enzymes to do their job, ranging from breaking down amino acids to releasing energy from carbohydrates and transporting oxygen and energy-containing nutrients around the body. A lack of vitamin B can result in anaemia, skin problems, fatigue and irritability.
Who Needs B Complex Vitamins?
Some individuals are at a higher risk of B vitamin deficiency, such as those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, those who drink too much alcohol and people who follow diets that are high in sugar and processed foods. A lot of people can get enough vitamin B by eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Those who struggle to meet their daily needs can benefit from B vitamin supplements.
B-complex supplements make it easier for individuals to manage their vitamin B intake as they combine all eight B vitamins into a single tablet. These vitamins are water-soluble, and since our body is made of about 60% water, it can’t store them for a long period of time. That’s why it’s important to regularly consume B vitamin supplements to avoid deficiency.
Benefits of B vitamins
B-complex supplements are well-known as powerful antistress nutrients. Many of them have been proven to have a direct effect on mood and perception. For example, vitamin B1 can improve your overall mood while high doses of vitamin B3 (in combination with vitamin C) have been successfully used to treat recent-onset schizophrenia. Vitamin B6 is necessary to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter with antidepressant benefits.
Normal Sugar Levels
Vitamin B7 and vitamin B1 play an important role in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Our bodies need vitamin B7 to produce insulin – the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Plus, B7 regulates the genes involved in the metabolism of glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. Large amounts of vitamin B7 can lower triglyceride levels. A combination of B7 and chromium picolinate has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.
Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Low levels of B9 (and sometimes low B6 and B12 levels) lead to an increase in blood levels of homocysteine – a chemical that damages blood vessel walls and sets the stage for cholesterol deposits. Research has shown that taking high doses of B complex can significantly reduce the thickening of the walls of blood vessels.
Better Cognitive Function
It is common for seniors to suffer from atrophic gastritis, a condition that interferes with vitamin B12 absorption. Studies have found that vitamin B12 deficiency can imitate different types of dementia. In such cases, taking vitamin B12 can restore cognitive function. Other B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B2 and B3, may be helpful in combination with vitamin B12.
Although our bodies need only a minimal amount of vitamin B9 every day to stay healthy, this vitamin is still necessary to synthesize new genes and cells during periods of growth and healing. Vitamin B9 also helps repair damaged genes, which slows the aging process, and is needed to make chemical compounds called methyl groups, which regulate gene activity.
Potential Side Effects
Because vitamin B is water-soluble, it’s unlikely you will consume too much of this nutrient by taking a B-complex supplement. However, taking excessive and unnecessary quantities of B complex could lead to serious side effects. A high dose of these vitamins may lead to high blood sugar levels, vomiting, skin flushing and even liver damage. High doses of B6 can cause light sensitivity and painful skin lesions.
How to Know If You Have a Vitamin B Deficiency?
Common symptoms signalling that you might not be getting enough vitamin B include skin rashes, cracks around the mouth, swollen tongue, fatigue, weakness, irritability or depression, confusion, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and constipation. Anyone experiencing these symptoms without knowing why should consult a healthcare professional. Although vitamin B deficiency may be the cause, these symptoms also overlap with many other underlying conditions. Your doctor should be able to make a diagnosis and suggest the right treatment.