You may or may not take a daily vitamin supplement and chances are, you may not give much thought to vitamins and just how they help you keep good health. All vitamins contribute in various ways, but the B complex group is especially important to essential health. Deficiencies of B vitamins can result in severe damage to the body. It’s good to know what these B vitamins do and what foods are good sources of vitamin B.
Once thought to be a single vitamin, it was later learned that there were actually eight, each affecting cell metabolism and coincidentally often found together in various foods.
B vitamins provide energy to your body, nutrients to maintain nervous system, heart muscle and skin health, and are required for metabolizing fat and protein. Anxiety, stress and depression can be helped with adequate B vitamins. All the B vitamins are water soluble and must be supplied daily. Brewer’s yeast is one of the excellent sources of vitamin B.
Vitamin B-1, or thiamine deficiencies can cause leg cramps, weak muscles and enlarging of the heart. Foods that are rich sources of vitamin B-1 include organ meats, wheat germ, bran, whole grains, molasses, eggs, dark green vegetables, beans, soybeans, nuts and berries.
Vitamin B2, riboflavin deficiencies result in lip cracks, light sensitivity, tongue inflammation, dermatitis and irritation of the mucous membranes. Good sources of vitamin B-2 are found in milk, cheese, mushrooms, whole grains and most meats.
Adequate amounts of vitamin B-3 hold cholesterol levels in check and is preventative for hardening of the arteries. Vitamin B-3, or niacin deficiencies can bring on aggressive behaviors, dermatitis, muscle weakness, insomnia, diarrhea and confusion. Food sources of vitamin B-3 include cold-water fish, chicken, nuts, grains and dried beans and legumes.
Acne often is a result of deficiencies of Vitamin B-5, pantothenic acid. Although this vitamin is found in almost all foods, the best sources of vitamin B-5 are eggs, meat, legumes and whole grains.
Vitamin B-6, pyridoxine, in insufficient amounts, can lead to anemia, various skin conditions, depression, and high blood pressure. Your best sources of vitamin B-6 are bananas, avocado, whole grains, liver, spinach and green beans.
Inadequate supplies of vitamin B-7 can affect infants in slow growth and some neurological conditions. Deficiencies are rare. Food sources of vitamin B-7 include organ meats, nuts and leafy dark green vegetables.
Vitamin B-9, folic acid, is of particular importance in pregnancy, when deficiencies can cause birth defects. The best food sources of vitamin B-9 are the same foods listed for B-7.
Deficiencies of vitamin B-12 cause anemia, cognitive and memory problems, especially in the elderly. Meat and dairy products are the only sources of vitamin B-12.
If you suspect deficiencies in the B complex, check with your doctor to make a determination. Supplements are often a good way to ensure adequate levels.