What is Vitamin B?
Like the other 12 known vitamins, vitamin B is an organic compound that is needed in small quantities to sustain life. Our bodies can’t produce their own B vitamins, so we have to get them from other sources.
All the B vitamins are water-soluble. Once ingested, water-soluble vitamins are taken up directly by the bloodstream and can move around freely within the body. Water-soluble vitamins also quickly exit the body via the kidneys. So, vitamin B needs to be replenished on a daily basis through the food we eat or supplementation.
What does “B Complex” mean?
Vitamin B is actually composed of eight distinct compounds. These compounds are categorized together because they’re often found in the same food sources and offer overlapping benefits to the body.
Vitamin B Complex then includes:
● B1 (Thiamine)
● B2 (Riboflavin)
● B3 (Niacin)
● B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
● B6 (Pyridoxine)
● B7 (Biotin)
● B9 (Folate)
● B12 (Cobalamin)
Each of these vitamins is essential to the overall health and function of the human body.
What about B4, B8, B10, and B11?
Similar compounds to the eight B vitamins were once believed to be vitamins, but are no longer considered as such. The numbers assigned to them (like B4, for example) now form the “gaps” in the true series of B-complex vitamins.
Why Do We Need to Consume B Vitamins Daily?
Because B vitamins are water-soluble, they’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, but they’re also quickly expelled out of the body. In fact, neglecting to restock our body’s store of B vitamins daily can lead to a vitamin B deficiency.
Deficiencies in each of the B vitamins can increase the risk of different conditions. Each of the B vitamins assist different functions of our bodies, and therefore deficiencies in the different B vitamins can cause varying health issues. For example, because B9 contributes to tissue growth during pregnancy, low levels of B9 in pregnant women can cause a higher risk of certain defects in developing babies.
It’s important, then, to make sure your body has enough of all eight B vitamins. Providing your body with each of the B vitamins will help you live your healthiest and fullest life.
Benefits of the B Vitamins
B vitamin benefits range far and wide. They are involved in manufacturing new cells and keeping our cells healthy, as well as forming our blood. They support our metabolism and immune system, create energy from the food we eat, and assist in the health of our hair and skin.
In addition, the B vitamins are crucial for a healthy brain. They help our nervous systems function normally and play an important role in contributing to normal psychological function. Healthy levels of these vitamins can also reduce tiredness and fatigue while aiding in our mental performance.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the eight B vitamins and their specific health benefits:
Support a healthy nervous system with B1 (Thiamine)
The first of the B vitamins contributes to normal psychological function and normal nervous system function.
In addition to mental health, vitamin B1 also helps to convert food into energy and plays a role in the function of our hearts.
Break down your food better with vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 helps your body break down and use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet, turning them into energy. This vitamin is also essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It contributes to the development of our skin, helps us to maintain normal vision, and keeps our energy levels up.
B2 is also important for the maintenance of red blood cells and protects our cells from oxidative stress. In other words, B2 can help our bodies fight free radicals, which can lead to cell and tissue damage.
Help fight pathogens with vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Like its B vitamin brothers, B3 contributes to a normal functioning nervous system and aids in our psychological function. B3 helps our skin stay healthy and helps ward off tiredness and fatigue.
B3 also plays a unique role when it comes to our mucous membranes. While this may sound unpleasant, healthy and normal mucus membranes help stop pathogens and dirt from entering our bodies and help prevent bodily tissues from becoming dehydrated.
This less-known vitamin has many health benefits: B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
B5 is a vitamin that doesn’t come up in nutrition conversation much, possibly because deficiencies of it are rare. Nearly all foods contain small quantities of pantothenic acid. And thankfully so! Because B5 has many important functions. B5 contributes to a normal energy-yielding metabolism, aiding in mental performance, and reducing tiredness and fatigue.
But it also helps us synthesize and metabolize steroid hormones, which control metabolism, inflammation, immune functions, the development and function of the reproductive system, and the ability to withstand illness and injury. Additionally, B5 also contributes to the synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D as well as some neurotransmitters.
Bring balance with B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 is needed for proper brain function and psychological function. Additionally, B6 supports a healthy nervous system. It reduces tiredness and fatigue and aids in a normal energy-yielding metabolism.
B6 also plays a role in the health of our immune system, which helps us fight off invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins. And it promotes the formation of red blood cells.
This vitamin uniquely contributes to our overall health by regulating and balancing our hormones.
The beauty vitamin: B7 (Biotin)
This important vitamin helps to keep our hair and skin healthy. Although B7 is gaining popularity as a beauty-enhancer, there are many other important roles this vitamin plays in our bodies.
B7, like many of the other B vitamins is great for maintaining a healthy metabolism. It helps the breakdown of carbs, fats, and amino acids and helps to convert the food we eat into energy. B7 plays a role in maintaining a healthy nervous system and psychological function. It also, like B3, supports our mucous membranes, thereby helping to protect our bodies from pathogens.
B9 (Folate) can support a healthy pregnancy
You may have seen this vitamin referred to as folic acid. While B9 is found naturally in certain foods as folate, folic acid is the synthetic version used in supplementation. Typically, these names for vitamin B9 are used interchangeably.
Folic acid is oftentimes recommended to pregnant women and included in most prenatal supplements. This is because when pregnant women have low levels of folate (or folic acid), their babies have a higher risk of developing neural tube defects.
To help protect against these defects, women are encouraged to take 400 μg of folic acid per day for at least one month before and up to three months after conception.
B9 is also important for heart health. As we age, folate works to regulate homocysteine levels and contributes to normal blood formation. Additionally, B9 supports our immune systems. Like some of the other B vitamins, B9 also aids in cellular growth and division, psychological function, and energy levels.
The energy vitamin: B12 (Cobalamin)
Known as the energy vitamin, B12 helps boost the metabolism and energy in the body. But vitamin B12 is also directly involved in supporting the brain, nervous system, and psychological function. B12 is also important for normal immune system function. Additionally, it’s essential for cell division and the formation of red blood cells.
What are the Best Foods to Increase B Vitamin Levels?
B vitamins are found in a long list of foods, which include:
● Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale
● Citrus fruits and bananas
● Almonds and sunflower seeds
● Fish, chicken, and red meats
● Eggs and dairy products
● Whole grains
Who Should Take a Vitamin B Supplement?
Many of us could benefit from a vitamin B supplement. In fact, vitamin B supplementation, especially when it comes to B12, is quite common.
There are a number of potential reasons why people supplement with vitamin B, including inadequate intake, increased need for the vitamin, malabsorption, drug-to-nutrient interactions, genetic disorders, medical conditions, and age.
People who choose to supplement their dietary intake include older adults, pregnant women, people who exercise regularly, and people who follow a vegetarian or plant based diet.
How to Choose the Right Vitamin B Supplement
Ideally, the product you choose should contain all eight B vitamins. Look for ones that have the more powerful and active forms of vitamins (for example, you can look for methylfolate in the ingredients list next to vitamin B12). You can always update your healthcare provider with what you’re taking and how much so that they can make sure you’re receiving the right dosage.
Men and women can benefit from different dosages of vitamin B, so look for a product designed for your body. Our B Complex for Women and our B Complex for Men are specifically designed to make sure that both men and women receive the nutritional support they need.
Some of our body’s functions supported by vitamin B can also benefit from healthy iron levels. For example, red blood cells require adequate and consistent intake of both vitamin B and iron. That’s why we’ve created a powerful Active Iron & B Complex Plus for Women and our Active Iron & B Complex Plus for Men
We’ve also taken care to create a better B9 supplement for those preparing for pregnancy and expecting mothers. Our Active Folic provides Folic Acid in its natural folate form to support greater absorption.
Supporting our bodies with the right amount and right forms of these important vitamins can make a big difference in how we feel from day to day. At Active Iron, we’re dedicated to helping you get the most out of each day, providing the support you need to live a healthy, full life.
Food supplements are not a substitute for a varied diet and healthy lifestyle.