The Benefits of B Vitamins (& Why You Should Be Taking Them)
B Vitamins are a group of eight essential nutrients that contribute to your overall body function and health. They play a role in your brain function, energy levels, and cell metabolism — behaving as the building blocks of the body.
As we age, our body’s demand for these building blocks increase due to numerous factors, like diet, genetics, alcohol consumption, age, medical conditions, and more.
Specifically, B Vitamins include the following:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folic acid)
- B12 (cobalamin)
What Do B Vitamins Do?
B vitamins are often found in food sources and should be ingested daily, whether through supplementation or a diet filled with a variety of foods, like meat, fish, leafy green vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts. B12 specifically is only found in animal products, for example, so this is an important vitamin for vegans and vegetarians to supplement.
B vitamins have similar functions within the body, and support healthy cells, deriving energy from food (i.e. metabolism), creating new cells, assisting in the creation of neurotransmitters (brain health!), and the list continues.
Their differences are the result of a cofactor (helper molecules) that assist enzymes in their actions. The B vitamin (helper molecules) helps to drive the enzyme reaction, which is essential for the enzyme to complete its job. In turn, the specific enzyme gives back to its helper molecule by informing what type of tissues in the body need the vitamin.
B vitamins have similar functions within the body, and some of their benefits translate to:
- Enhancing mood (combination of B vitamins)
- Improving memory (combination of B vitamins)
- Increasing energy (combination of B vitamins)
- Enhancing skin and hair health (B7)
- Stimulating the immune system (B6)
- Protecting the heart (B12)
- Maintaining a healthy body weight (B2)
- De-stressing (B5)
- Supporting eye health (B1)
How Do I Know If I Am B Vitamin Deficient?
To know how a specific vitamin affects our body, it’s easiest to look at what happens when we don’t have enough of it in our diet or from supplementation. If a body doesn’t have enough of a specific B vitamin, then it can’t be a helper molecule for an enzyme to properly do its job.
And that can result in a variety of conditions and deficiencies, some of which include the following:
- B1 – In more serious deficiencies, there is a disease called the Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (beriberi), which is characterized by dementia and neuropathy. In extreme cases, the heart can be affected.
- B2 – B2 deficiencies can create cataracts and cracked corners of lips
- B3 – Serious deficiency translates to diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia
- B5 – The adrenal glands are damaged, and a unique syndrome called “burning food syndrome” may occur
- B6 – Affects depression and other mental health conditions, as B6 is a cofactor for a multitude of brain neurotransmitters and other mental health issues
- Biotin – Hair loss and dry, flaking skin
- Folate – A deficiency in folate can translate to increased homocysteine levels, psychiatric disorders, anemia, and poor fetal development
- B12 – Psychiatric disorders, loss of functional nerve activity, anemia
Other deficiencies can cause fatigue, weakness, confusion, irritability, nausea, skin rashes, and abdominal cramps.
With an overall deficiency in B vitamins, the brain, peripheral nerves, and spinal cord seem to take the biggest hit, which can manifest as mental, physical, or emotional symptoms.
What B Vitamin Supplements Should I Take?
B vitamins are essential to our health. To get the full B vitamin benefit, it’s best to take a B-complex supplement in addition to eating leafy greens, healthy meats, and whole foods. However, there are specific blends of B vitamins to support more targeted conditions.
Our favorite is a specific blend called B-Energy, which translates to increased and balancing energy, supporting a healthy homocysteine metabolism, stress response support, encouraging a healthy energy metabolism, increasing cognitive performance, and more.
Containing a careful blend of B2, B3, B6, and B12, this is a go-to supplement for anyone to amplify their overall mind, body, and emotional health.