By Elizabeth Foley
The B-group of vitamins play a vital role in our health. B vitamins are essential for healthy energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. Found in a variety of foods, B vitamins are water soluble. The body needs frequent, small doses of water-soluble vitamins as excess amounts are excreted through the kidneys. You can ensure that you are getting the proper amount of B vitamins by eating a balanced diet. Taking a dietary supplement can also be helpful, especially for those whose dietary restrictions hinder food sources rich in B vitamins.
Vitamin B Types and Functions
There are eight different vitamin B types that perform distinct functions:
Thiamin is involved in the bodily process of breaking down sugars and procuring fatty acids. Additionally, thiamin is used when synthesizing certain hormones and assists with the neurotransmitter activity of brain chemicals.
Riboflavin helps the body break down fats and is essential for energy production. It is also required when converting vitamin B6 into coenzyme and tryptophan into vitamin B3.
The body converts niacin into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) which is a coenzyme which is used in more than 400 different enzyme bodily reactions. NAD converts the food we consume into energy forms that the body uses for metabolic processes.
Pantothenate is required for the creation of new coenzymes, proteins, and fats in the body. Red blood cells carry pantothenate around the body to aid in the energy and metabolism processes.
Pyridoxine plays a vital role in the enzyme reactions of brain development and immune functions. Amino acid metabolism, fat, and carbohydrate breakdown all require pyridoxine.
Biotin is required for the body to break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins. In addition, biotin plays a role in the regulation of DNA and communication among cells in the body.
Better known as folic acid, the synthetic form of B9 is added into a variety of fortified foods as a dietary supplement. Folate is used by the body in several ways including DNA replication and the metabolism of amino acids and other vitamins.
The body uses cobalamin to create new red blood cells and for fat and protein metabolism. Cobalamin also plays a role in brain and neurological functions including DNA synthesis.
Five Surprising Benefits of Maintaining Healthy B Vitamin Levels
Vitamin B deficiency can cause a variety of health issues. Here are five compelling benefits of maintaining healthy vitamin B levels that you may not have been aware of.
1. Reduce Risk of Stroke
A meta-analysis study found that vitamin B supplementation significantly reduces the risk of stroke and recurrent strokes due to B vitamins' effect on plasma and homocysteine levels (1). Taking B vitamins is seen as a preventive measure for strokes. However, researchers are clear that taking a B vitamin will not decrease the risk of death due to a stroke. Thus, it is important to seek medical treatment right away if you are experiencing stroke-like symptoms and work with a medical professional if you are at risk of having a stroke.
2. Healthy Brain Development in Children
According to research, folate deficiency (also known as B12 or folic acid) occurring in the periconceptional period (three months prior to pregnancy) has a negative consequence on an infant's brain development and is associated with a greater risk of depression during adulthood (2). Since B vitamins play an important role in health, including brain development, it is recommended that anyone planning on becoming pregnant consume a balanced diet and take a prenatal dietary supplement containing folic acid if needed.
3. Optimal Brain Function for Seniors
Analysis of elderly participants with vitamin B deficiency demonstrated that supplementation has a positive effect on cognitive ability. This research states that supplementation with folic acid, B12, and B6 improved cognitive function such as memory, information processing speed, and sensorimotor speed (3). According to this study, addressing vitamin B deficiency has proven to be useful for those who wish to reduce the rate of brain atrophy and deterioration commonly seen with aging.
4. Manage Stress
A research review provides evidence of B vitamin supplementation's usefulness in stress reduction. Researchers concluded that vitamin B supplements may particularly benefit populations who are at risk due to poor nutrient status or poor mood status (4). B vitamins play a role in producing “feel-good” brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, that lift mood. Many report a calming effect after addressing vitamin B deficiency with supplements.
5. Healthy Skin
Researchers have found that B vitamin supplements have a positive influence on skin health and regeneration after injury. According to one study, B vitamins promote wound healing and a statistically significant induction of keratinocyte, which aids in the healing process (5). Vitamin B deficiency has also been known to cause a number of skin problems including acne, eczema, hyperpigmentation and pale skin.
Peruse our website to learn more about the benefits of dietary supplementation. When choosing a supplement, it is important to pick a safe and natural product that is backed by the latest science.
- 1. Meta-analysis reveals protective effects of vitamin B on stroke patients. (2015). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4936622/
- 2. Black, M. M. (2008, June 29). Effects of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency on brain development in children. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18709887/
- 3. Kim, H. (2014, December 17). Association between intake of B vitamins and cognitive function in elderly Koreans with cognitive impairment. Nutrition Journal. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-13-118
- 4. Young, L., Pipingas, A., White, D., Gauci S., and Scholey A. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. (2019, September 1). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770181/
- 5. Rembe, J. (2018, May 31). Effects of Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin C on Human Skin Cells: Is the Perceived Effect Measurable? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29672394/
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