The B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins. This means that whatever the body can not use at the time these vitamins are put in the body is excreted in the urine and can be quickly depleted from the body. Also, our body can only absorb a small percentage of what we need at a certain time. This is why some vitamin supplements are required more than once a day. Because water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body in appreciable amounts and are depleted from the body so quickly, it is important that we take a B vitamin supplement to replenish what is lost.
The B vitamins, there are 8 of them, act as coenzymes, meaning they react with another compound to form an active enzyme. These enzymes then act as a catalyst in the chemical reactions that transfer energy from the basic food elements to the body. These vitamins are essential for the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose, which provides us energy, the breakdown of fats and proteins, which aids the normal functioning of the nervous system, muscle tone in the stomach and intestinal tract, and healthy skin, hair, and eyes. Since these vitamins affect such important elements of your body, a source that provides them all in a single daily supplement is recommended.
Below is a list of each B vitamin and some of their specific functions:
B1 (thiamine): needed for release of energy from carbohydrates; aids in functioning of nervous system; helps maintain stomach acidity and normal appetite.
B2 (riboflavin): needed for converting proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy; necessary for healthy skin and eyes.
B3 (niacin): needed for release of energy from food; maintains health of skin, mouth and digestive tract; necessary for normal mental function; can increase circulation and reduce high blood pressure.
B5 (pantothenic acid): needed for release of energy from food; helps in the functioning of the adrenal gland and in the formation of antibodies.
B6 (pyridoxine): needed for metabolism of protein, hence requirements related to protein intake; helps to maintain fluid balance, a requirement for healthy red blood cells.
B12: needed for red blood cell production and maintenance of protective sheath around nerves.
Folic acid: Essential for growth and reproduction of cells, particularly red blood cells.
Biotin: involved in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. Required for healthy skin and hair.
The B vitamins are important for the proper formation of every cell in your body, particularly nerve cells. This is why being deficient in any of the B complex vitamins can adversely affect a person’s health. For instance Vitamin B1 deficiency affects the functioning of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and peripheral nervous systems. Vitamin B12, or cyanocobalamin, is a compound that functions in all cells, but especially in the cells of the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, and the bone marrow. Vitamin B12 helps the development of our red blood cells and if it is lacking, pernicious anemia can arise. Lastly, and maybe most importantly research studies have shown that the B vitamins, particularly Folate, B12, and B6 help lower homocystein levels, an amino acid shown to increase the risk of heart attacks.
Everyone’s need for B vitamins can vary, which is why it is a good idea to find out what and how much you need. Because certain foods contain different amounts of all vitamins and minerals, a person on a higher protein diet, or more specifically the Hauser Otter or Lion Diets may need more B vitamins than someone following the Monkey or Giraffe Diets. Talking this over with the doctor and getting educated on which supplements would be best for you based on your current intake is the best way to ensure you are being as healthy as you possibly can!