Most medical students are taught that people do not need vitamins and supplements. If you eat a balanced diet, they are told, you get all of the nutrients needed. I was told this in medical school and it is still the mantra being disseminated decades later.
The one problem with this advice is that no one I know has a truly balanced diet. Nowadays, people live in a fast-paced society where they pick up food on the fly, skip meals, eat sugar-laden treats, buy processed foods, and eat foods that have been chemically treated.
Therefore, most people could use a little help from a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement in order to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need for optimal health.
Such is especially the case with the B vitamin family – a key player in maintaining optimal health and keeping you energized. The B vitamin family is made up of eight B vitamins that are water soluble, which means they are excreted from the body daily and must be replenished on a regular basis.
Although they are commonly recognized as a group and often work together in the body, each of the B vitamins performs unique and important functions. Additionally, the different types of B vitamins all come from different types of foods.
It is important to note that deficiencies of any of these can lead to health problems. Read on to better understand the roles of each of the B vitamins:
Also known as thiamin, vitamin B1 helps convert food into energy, plays a role in muscle contraction, and supports normal nervous system function. Additionally, it is often called an “anti-stress” vitamin because of its ability to protect the immune system.
Can be found in: whole grains, beans, spinach, kale, yeast, nuts, sunflower seeds, pork, and red meat.
Also known as riboflavin, vitamin B2 helps your body break down and use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet. It is important for body growth and red blood cell production.
Can be found in: almonds, wild rice, eggs, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, salmon, and beef.
Also known as niacin or niacinamide, vitamin B3 helps the digestive system, skin, and nerves to function. In addition, it supports cellular energy production and boosts HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
Can be found in: beef, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, eggs, beans, and green vegetables.
Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 is needed for our bodies to break down fats and carbohydrates for energy. In addition, is necessary for our bodies to produce hormones, as well as being needed for growth.
Can be found in: just about every food group – its name even says so. Pantothenic comes from the Greek word pantothen, meaning “from everywhere.” Rich sources include organ meats, egg yolk, whole grains, avocados, nuts, lentils, broccoli, kale, and dairy products.
Involved in over 100 cellular reactions throughout the body, vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is instrumental in keeping various bodily functions operating at their best. It helps the body metabolize amino acids from our food, build new red blood cells, and is involved in mood and sleep patterns because it helps the body produce serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine.
Can be found in: meat, poultry, eggs, fish, bananas, berries, peaches, carrots, spinach, sunflower seeds, and brown rice.
Known as the “beauty” vitamin, vitamin B7, or biotin, is especially known for supporting healthy hair, skin and nails.
Can be found in: strawberries, organ meat, yeast, pork, chicken, fish, cauliflower, egg yolks, and nuts.
Also known as folic acid, vitamin B9 is most commonly known for its role in fetal health and development because it plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system. It additionally fosters the growth of red blood cells.
Can be found in: dark green leafy vegetables, organ meats, beets, dates, avocados, beans, salmon, and bulgur.
This B vitamin, also known as cobalamin, is a team player. It works with vitamin B9 to produce red blood cells and help iron do its job – create the oxygen carrying protein, hemogloblin. Vitamin B12 also helps regulate and maintain a healthy central nervous system.
Can be found in: predominantly foods of animal origin such as chicken, beef, fish, pork, and clams. Because vitamin B12 is not naturally occurring in plant foods, vegetarians and vegans might not get enough in their diets and may need to take a B supplement.
Many people think they need to go out and find a B complex vitamin, but you can get your daily dose of these important B vitamins simply by a powerful daily multivitamin, such as BrainMD’s NeuroVite Plus, which combines all 8 B vitamins with more than 50 nutrients and plant extracts in their most active forms to give you whole body-mind nutrition in a way that drugstore multivitamins cannot do.