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B Vitamins 101

B Vitamins are water soluble and essential for many functions within the body; it is vital that we have a sufficient quantity of each of them. These vitamins are essential for many internal body functions including the nervous system, immune system, healthy blood cells, and cell division.

Furthermore, B vitamins help to steadily release energy from the food we eat so we do not have to rely on sugary and unhealthy snacks between meals.

B Vitamins can be easily destroyed through alcohol, cooking and certain food processing techniques; it is for this reason that white flour products are less nutritious than wholegrain products.

The Different Types Of B Vitamins

It is a fact that B vitamins are a group that consists of eight different types of vitamins; the most commonly known varieties include folic acid, B12 and thiamine. While they all have slightly different functions, there are physical illnesses that are linked to a deficiency of such vitamins. Some of the key vitamins are discussed below.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is supplement that turns into folate once in the body. Folates are essential for DNA repair, and cell growth; this is particularly important at life stages such as infancy and pregnancy. It is important for women of childbearing age to ensure they take sufficient folic acid supplements; benefits for the unborn child and women are abundant.

It is important for pregnant women to not only consume foods high in folic acid, but to take folic acid supplements. While the body has some in reserve, if there is a lack of supplements for a reasonable amount of time, a deficiency will occur. A deficiency can lead to depression, confusion, anemia, and ultimately, during pregnancy, fetal defects. Folic acid also appears to have benefits in reducing the likelihood and seriousness of other health conditions, including strokes and fertility.

Food sources include: As the name implies, foliage foods are high in folate, including, green leafy vegetables, such as turnip greens, and spinach, along with various fresh fruits. Folate fortified foods include various pastas, breads and other grains.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for essential brain and nervous system functioning. Vitamin B12 can be obtained through animal-based products such as eggs, milk, and shellfish. Vitamin B12 is also available as a supplement at many health food shops and via your doctor.

A lack of B12 in the body can have serious consequences on both the brain and nervous system; at even minor levels of deficiency, symptoms such as memory loss, fatigue, and depression can occur.

Food sources include: Animal foods, like beef are the only natural source of vitamin B12, along with shellfish, clams, crab, and mussels. Many products are also fortified with it including, cereals, and soy foods.

Niacin

Niacin is also known as B3 and is important for many reactions within the body, including cell synthesis. Niacin has been shown to be beneficial in the cardiovascular system and associated health conditions.

Food sources include: It is relatively easy to get enough niacin, as it is present in foods such as peanuts, lentils, fish, and meat.

Riboflavin

Riboflavin, also known as B2, is essential to create and maintain the body’s basic building blocks. A deficiency leads to symptoms including sore throat, birth defects if a woman is deficient during pregnancy, anemia, and oily skin.

Food sources include: Riboflavin is found in many food sources including milk, cheese, yeast, mushrooms, and almonds.

Pantothenic Acid

More commonly known as B5, pantothenic acid is vital for metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol. Additionally, it produces red blood cells and hormones such as steroids. B5 is widely available in many different forms, but are most often found in milk, eggs, and peanuts. It is exceptionally unusual but is characterized by fatigue, vomiting, and constipation.

Food sources include: cheese, yogurt, asparagus, spinach, fish, eggs, chicken and fortified cereals.

Thiamin

The body uses thiamin to regulate appetite and supports metabolism.

Food sources include: dark green leafy vegetables, pork, fortified cereals, wheat germ, green peas, lentils, almonds, and enriched rice.

Symptoms Of B Vitamin Deficiency

The symptoms of any of B vitamin deficiency are very similar to a large number of other health conditions so it is important to not self-diagnose any particular vitamin deficiency.

Moreover, it is always a good idea to speak to your health professional before making any substantial changes to your diet. By eating a balanced diet on a daily basis, you will probably find you are consuming an adequate amount of B vitamins already.

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