If Vitamin B12 had an Instagram, it would have the biggest following out of all the vitamins, but vitamin B12 isn’t the only B vitamin you should follow. There are eight B vitamins including Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), Folic Acid (B9) and finally Mr. Popular, B12 (also called cyanocobalimin); and they all have magical abilities that are simply mind-blowing!
I want to give you a breakdown of what each vitamin does and why you should take it. But, before I address each vitamin individually, one thing all B vitamins have in common is they all help you extract the energy from the foods you eat. What does this mean? This means more energy for you! B vitamins convert nutrients from fats, proteins and carbohydrates to a useable energy source you can use through out the day – and especially in the gym. This energy source is called ATP. This means improved concentration, more energy, better workouts and improved mood.
All B vitamins support nerve, heart, blood, skin and eye health. They also reduce inflammation, improve hormone function and can help maintain a healthy metabolism and digestive system. Each one is unique and, like a Marvel Superhero, has it’s own special super powers. But, just like superheroes, they are strongest and most effective in numbers. The more the merrier!
B1 (Thiamin) – Strong mind and body
B1, or thiamin, plays a critical role in energy metabolism, which includes the growth, development and function of cells. Thiamin deficiency can cause a variety of negative symptoms including confusion, short-term memory loss, muscle weakness and cardiovascular issues, like an enlarged heart. Other symptoms may include weight loss or anorexia. Thiamin deficiency may even play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Up to 80% of people with chronic alcoholism develop thiamin deficiencies because ethanol reduces gastrointestinal absorption of thiamin. Older adults also tend to be deficient in thiamin, possibly due to low dietary intakes, medications, common chronic diseases and the inability to absorb nutrients. Research shows people who have diabetes have between 50-76% lower levels of thiamin. Bariatric patients also often have a thiamin deficiency due to malabsorption, and are normally encouraged to add micronutrients that include thiamin to avoid deficiencies.
B2 (riboflavin) – Boosts energy and mood, and slow aging
B2, most commonly called Riboflavin, plays a huge role in the production of energy. Vitamin B2 is essential for body function and improves our body’s ability to process fats and proteins. It also helps regulate thyroid activity. B2 not only can improve skin issues, like acne and dermatitis, but it helps repair damaged tissue and speeds healing. It’s antioxidant properties prevent free radical damage attributed to heart disease, cancer and aging. B2 may even prevent migraines.
Deficiencies can include fatigue, sluggish metabolism, anemia, nerve damage, skin inflammation, skin disorders, mouth or lip sores, swelling of mucus membranes, mood swings, anxiety and signs of depression.
B3 (niacin) – Gets our blood and energy pumping
Most people know B3 as Niacin, and is probably most known in the fitness world for how it helps increase blood circulation, which is not only important for good health but is awesome for pumping blood to the heart, and getting blood to the muscles during a workout. Another great thing about niacin is that it can help lower cholesterol levels and control them. Niacin can be used to treat respiratory or vascular disorders.
B3 helps in digestive function, which is imperative in absorbing nutrients. It can also be responsible for that “healthy glow”, as it is great for your skin. Like all B vitamins, it support healthy nerve, brain and heart function, and boosts your energy and mood. Unlike other vitamins, niacin increases blood flow and helps create sex hormones, so it can also be very helpful for people who have sexual disorders like impotence and erectile disfunction. Lastly, niacin has been found very effective in treating and managing diabetes.
B5 (Pantothenic acid) – Reduces stress
B5 is a B vitamin a lot of people don’t ever refer to but it does a lot of great things like alleviates allergies, hair loss, asthma, stress, anxiety, heart problems and respiratory disorders. B5 is often used to help treat serious mental disorders like chronic stress and anxiety. It’s great for building stamina, delays premature aging and supports good heart health. B5 is effective for fighting infections and diseases, as well as improving sex and stress-relate hormones, including testosterone.
Vitamin B5 deficiencies are more rare than other B vitamins since it is in most foods. However, if someone is malnourished or low in calories, they can have signs of B5 deficiency including fatigue, depression, irritability, insomnia, muscle cramps, burning feet, upper respiratory infections and stomach issues.
B6 (pyridoxine) – Eases pain and stress, while improving sleep
Vitamin B6 is one of the more popular B vitamins. It supports major bodily functions including movement, memory, energy expenditure and blood flow. It helps the body maintain a healthy nervous system and can even act as natural pain treatment. Like all B vitamins, B6 provide energy from the foods we eat and boosts mood and energy. It also creates antibodies for our immune system, to shield us from stress and sickness. B6 plays a big role in our mood and sleep patterns because it helps the body produce serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine, a stress hormone.
You may be low in vitamin B6 if you suffer from changes in mood, irritability, anxiety or depression. Other common symptoms of a B6 deficiency is muscle pains, low energy and fatigue. Women may suffer from increased PMS symptoms without the proper daily dose of B6. Vitamin B deficiencies have been linked to migraines, chronic pain, seizures and mood disorders. People who do not have efficient levels of B6 may be at risk for heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Lastly, supplementing your diet with B6 is essential for aging adults, as it may prevent forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease.
B 7 (Biotin) – Improves skin, hair and nails.
If you ask someone what B7 is, most people will say they don’t have a clue, but everyone knows what Biotin is. Like with all B vitamins, B7 (biotin) supports healthy metabolism as well as nerve, digestive and cardiovascular functions. However, B7’s claim to fame is how it can improve your skin, hair and nails health. B7 also supports thyroid and adrenal function, and may improve glucose intolerance and balance blood sugar.
Symptoms of biotin deficiency include dry irritated skin, brittle hair, hair loss, chronic fatigue, muscle aches and pains, mood changes, cramps, tingling in the limbs and cognitive impairments. People who suffer from leaky gut syndrome or have other digestive disorders may have trouble absorbing the nutrients are at risk of deficiencies.
B9 (Folic Acid) – Fights depression and rejuvenates the body
Vitamin B9, also called folic acid, can be very helpful in preventing heart disorders, stroke, cancer and birth defects during pregnancy. It is also very helpful in building muscle, cell enhancement, hemoglobin formation and stabilizing your mood. Vitamin B9 is responsible for replacing old cells with new healthy ones, keeping our body fresh and renewed. B9 is used to help patients who suffer from alcoholism, liver disease, anemia, digestive disorders and kidney dialysis. Folic acid is used for memory loss, age-related hearing loss, restless leg syndrome, weak bones, sleep problems, depression, nerve pain and muscle pain.
Deficiency symptoms include anemia, memory loss, restricted brain and nerve growth, paranoia, weakness, cracked skin and sore tongue. Deficiencies can lead to osteoporosis, bowel cancer, heart palpitations and birth defects. People deficient in folic acid also may also struggle with fertility and sterility.
B 12 (cobalamin) – Combats fatigue and boosts brain function
To my surprise, vitamin B12 is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world! No wonder it gets so much attention in the doctor’s office and nutrition shops.
Not only does B12 improve your mood, energy level, memory, heart, skin, hair and digestion, it is an essential vitamin for addressing adrenal fatigue and multiple metabolic functions like enzyme production, hormonal balance and DNA synthesis. B12 supports and helps maintain a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system. B12 is incredibly important to our nervous system, as it helps form the protective covering of nerves, called the myelin sheath. If your vitamin B12 levels are low, almost every cognitive function can suffer. I don’t know about you, but I need as much brain power as I can get!!
One of the most common signs of a B12 deficiency is chronic fatigue, stress and feeling run down. Symptoms of a B12 deficiency can include joint pain, muscle aches and weakness, difficulty breathing, chronic fatigue, poor concentration, poor memory, mood changes, anxiety, abnormal heart issues (like heart palpitations), poor dental health, digestive problems and even a poor appetite.
Again, the older population often suffer from deficiencies mostly due to digestive issues and the inability to convert vitamin B12 properly. Other people who are at risk for deficiencies include smokers and heavy drinkers. People with anemia or digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease are also at risk for B12 deficiencies. Vegans and vegetarians may be at risk for B12 deficiency because B12 is found in meat and dairy.
B Fit to Get Fit
If you feel like you have no energy, get sick often or just lack the drive and desire to move and get healthy, you may just need to add a really good B complex to your daily regimen. Since B vitamins are water soluble, they dissolve very quickly and have to be replaced daily.
I can personally attest to the fact that B vitamins can COMPLETELY change your life. I honestly attribute my improved mood and energy to all the B vitamins I’m taking now. Since I’ve been on my new vitamin regiment, I can see a distract difference in my energy, mood and mental clarity.
Food Sources of B Vitamins
Since B vitamins don’t build up in your system, you need a daily dose. However, it can be hard to get every B vitamin you need; especially when you are dieting. That’s where supplements come in.
Foods rich in B vitamins:
- cereals and whole grains (a source of B1, B2, and B3)
- green leafy vegetables (a source of B2 and B9)
- eggs (a source of B7 and B12)
- chicken (a source of B3, B6, and B12)
- citrus fruits (a source of B9)
- nuts (a source of B3 and B9)
- kidney beans (a source of B1 and B2)
- bananas (a source of B6 and B7)
- Vitamin B5 is found in almost all foods.
Source: Very Well