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September Wellness Blog: Balance & Synergy of the all-important B Vitamins

Written by Juanita



The Vitamin B Lineup

- B1/Thiamine

- B2/Riboflavin

- B3/Niacin

- B5/Pantothenic Acid

- B6/Pyridoxine

- B7/Biotin

- B9/Folic Acid/Folate

- B12/Cobalamin


There are gaps in the numbers of the B vitamins because our understanding of them has evolved over time. Initially there was only a single B vitamin. Later it was recognized that what had been referred to as a single vitamin, actually had many components.


There are four additional substances in the B complex group, though they are not known as vitamins. They are choline, lipoic acid, PABA and inositol. When you purchase B complex vitamins, these four will not be included. Furthermore, one or two of the recognized B vitamins may also be omitted. Also, there are B5 and B7 which are widely available in food.


B4 did not meet the criteria of being a Vitamin, so it was dropped. That’s how we ended up with 8 B-vitamins with non-sequential numbers.

"Initially there was only a single B vitamin. Later it was recognized that what had been referred to a single vitamin, actually had many components..."

B vitamins are water soluble in the body. They are not stored, rather excreted in the urine, so B vitamins need to be replenished through our diet daily. Of the 13 essential vitamins, eight of them are B vitamins. They are utilized in many bodily capacities including energy, cellular protection, brain, and heart health.


Vitamin B1 /Thiamine:

· Plays a fundamental role in metabolism.

· It is particularly useful in energy production for your brain.

Your body needs thiamine to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that transports the energy within your cells, especially key in the brain and nervous system.


Thiamine is found in whole grains, nuts, peas, and beans, along with lean pork, fish, poultry, eggs, and more.


Vitamin B2 /Riboflavin:

· In addition to boosting energy, riboflavin functions as an antioxidant.

· One antioxidant produced by riboflavin is particularly helpful to vision health.

In addition to boosting energy, riboflavin functions as an antioxidant for the proper function of the immune system, and for healthy skin and hair.


Natural sources of riboflavin include milk, eggs, nuts, broccoli, and meats.


Vitamin B3 /Niacin:

· Your body can produce niacin from tryptophan.

· Niacin has been used to reduce cholesterol levels, and can also address skin conditions.

Food sources for Niacin include: Liver, chicken breast, tuna, salmon, wild caught, anchovies, turkey. Turkey contains both niacin and tryptophan, the latter of which your body can turn into niacin. Together they provide roughly 50% of the RDA for niacin for men and 60% of the RDA for women. Tryptophan also impacts mood and sleep. More foods: Peanuts, brown rice, whole wheat products,mushrooms, green, peas, and potatoes.


Vitamin B5 /Pantothenic Acid:

· Nearly all foods contain at least some trace of vitamin B5.

· Promotes a healthy physical response to stress.

Pantothenic Acid supports the adrenals through the development of stress-related hormones sustaining healthy responses to stress.


See Niacin food sources.


Vitamin B6 /Pyridoxine:

· A form of vitamin B6 that is involved in more than 150 of your body’s enzyme reactions.

· Vitamin B6 lends a strong assist to cognitive health, while also contributing to the well being of your skin and eyes.

B6 is involved in more than 150 of your body’s enzymatic reactions. This active form of vitamin B6 is, also, needed for anti inflammatory responses in the body.


B6 is perhaps best known for its association with cognitive function and overall brain health. B6 is needed to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, both of which have been linked to depression.


Food sources include: Many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good sources of vitamin B6. Some ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B6, fish, beef, and turkey contain high amounts of vitamin B6. Beans and nuts are also sources of vitamin B6.


Vitamin B7 /Biotin:

· Biotin can benefit your skin and nails, guarding against brittle nails.

· Women who are pregnant should consider adding biotin to their regimen.

Vitamin B7 is found in a number of foods, though in small amounts. This includes walnuts, peanuts, cereals, milk, and egg yolks. Other foods that contain this vitamin are whole meal bread, salmon, pork, sardines, mushroom and cauliflower. Fruits that contain biotin include avocados, bananas and raspberries.


Vitamin B9 /Folate/Folic Acid:

· Folate has been linked to reproductive health for women.

· Folate is also crucial to cognitive function and brain health.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, so if it occurs naturally in foods it’s folate, but if it’s added to foods in a lab, you’ve got folic acid. Whether converted from its synthetic form or absorbed from natural sources, folate has been linked to various health benefits, including pregnancy-related advantages much like biotin.


Folate/folic acid is also crucial to people of all ages for mood support and cognitive function. Studies have shown folic acid could lower inflammation and your levels of homocysteine, the amino acid that potentially contributes to a decline in brain health.


The primary animal sources of vitamin B9 includes liver, dairy products, egg yolk, and seafood. Natural primary plant sources are dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fresh fruits, fruit juices, whole grains, wheat germ, and yeast.


Vitamin B12 /Cobalamin:

· Vitamin B12 is vital for energy metabolism and the formation of red blood cells.

· This vitamin works well with B6 and folic acid in brain health efforts.

In relation to energy and fending off fatigue and weakness, vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the formation of the red blood cells that transport oxygen to your organs.


Some food sources for B 12 include: Clams, beef liver, fortified breakfast cereals, wild caught salmon, trout, milk, yogurt, ham, eggs, chicken breast, nutritional yeast.


Remember, the family of B vitamins are a team, and a deficiency in one often indicates a deficiency in another. Medications — although needed — heavy alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet can produce deficiencies of many of the B vitamins listed above. For that reason a B Complex is helpful in filling in the gaps of the deficient B Vitamin, especially if you are not eating healthy, experiencing sleeplessness and stress.


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