The best of the B’s: Why you need B vitamins

When you look after your body from the inside out, the effects can be seen in everything from your skin and hair to your general level of vitality, energy and fitness. Thinking about what you put into your body is important, because this is what will fuel you through each day. A nutritious diet is essential to help you perform at your best, but how do you know what to include in your meals and what to leave out?

When it comes to doing the best you can for your health and wellbeing, getting some B vitamins into your diet can be a good place to start. There are many forms of this particular group of vitamins, and they all play important roles in supporting emotional and physical health as well as several bodily functions.

If you can't tell your biotin from your niacin, or your thiamin from your riboflavin, here are a few essential facts that will help you get up to speed on the benefits of B vitamins.

All about the B group of vitamins

In total, the B vitamins are made up of eight different types: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6, biotin (B7), folate and vitamin B12. Each vitamin has its own role in supporting a range of crucial bodily functions, so it’s important to ensure your intake of B vitamins is equal to your daily needs.

Anyone who has been pregnant will know about the benefits of folate, as it helps to develop the nervous system of the foetus while reducing the risk of brain or spine birth defects. However, that’s not to say that folate (and the other B vitamins) aren’t essential for other people as well.

One of the biggest areas where B vitamins come into play is in energy production and metabolism, as they aid in converting food into energy and help the body to use the fuel from nutrients such as carbohydrates, fat and protein. B6B12 and folate in particular have been shown to be essential for converting products such as homocysteine into methionine, one of the building blocks used to make proteins.

B vitamins are also part of the process of creating red blood cells, which travel throughout your body delivering oxygen and removing waste. Without these vital cells, the body would eventually break down.

Those who don’t have enough B vitamins in their bodies can experience diseases or conditions such as anaemia, which occurs when the blood cells are unable to transport enough oxygen. It is typically caused by blood loss, insufficient red blood cell production or unusually high rates of red blood cell destruction.

In addition to this, studies have found there may also be a link between low levels of B12, B6 and folate and depression. A deficiency in these vitamins can cause us to feel more anxious, tired and stressed and it can even affect our mental acuity. Vitamin B6 is particularly important for brain activity as it helps to form certain brain chemicals while also affecting healthy immune function and hormone activity.

Riboflavin and niacin help to maintain the health of our skin, while niacin and thiamin both play a role in supporting the nervous system. Several of the B vitamins are also essential for hormone production – pantothenic acid produces steroid hormones, which help in many physical functions, and biotin works to metabolise amino acid.

Are you getting enough B vitamins?

With such a wide array of benefits for your physical and mental health, making sure you have enough of this vitamin group in your diet is a great way to support better wellbeing. The body can’t store most of these vitamins, so getting it from either your diet or a supplement is essential. As we grow older, it also becomes more difficult for the body to absorb B vitamins adequately, so intake may need to be increased.

Luckily, they can be found in a variety of foods. Meat, fish, poultry milk, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, cereals and green leafy vegetables are all great sources for various forms of this vitamin group, but too much cooking or over-processing can reduce their availability. Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine can also destroy their nutrient content.

For these reasons, many people find it easier to get their intake through vitamin B complex supplements which contain all eight forms in one – especially as certain types of B vitamins (such as folate) can sometimes mask deficiencies in another. There are so many benefits of these vitamins, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough to fuel your body.

Lifestream Natural B-Complex is a unique wholefood product sourced from organically cultivated high-quality quinoa sprouts. This special patented formula provides the full spectrum of bioavailable B vitamin complexes to ensure optimum use and absorption by the body.  Buy it now from our secure online shop.

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Do you take a Vitamin B Complex, or a specific B vitamin?

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Sources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/anemia.html

http://www.fi.edu/learn/heart/blood/red.html

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Vitamin_B

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bvitamins.html

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Listing_of_vitamins.htm

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b/

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes

http://depression.about.com/cs/diet/a/vitamin.htm

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/B-Complex.htm