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Role of Vitamin B Complex in Healthy Diet
- A vitamin B complex (a type of water soluble vitamins) consists of 8 B vitamins including vitamin B-12 and vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) produces energy at the cellular level. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps the health of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in bodily development and growth. Vitamin B9 (folic acid) is required more in women who are pregnant
- A deficiency in B vitamins can lead to abdominal pain, numbness and tinglin in the arms and legs
A supplement that consists of all eight B vitamins is usually known as a vitamin B complex. The B vitamin group comprises of eight water-soluble vitamins. They play vital roles in a number of body systems and functions, including cell metabolism.
B vitamins were historically thought to be a single vitamin called vitamin B. Later studies showed that B vitamins are chemically distinct compounds that may coexist in the same foods. Individual B vitamins are referred to by the distinct name of each vitamin (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12).
B vitamins are nutrients that are essential for development, growth, and a wide range of bodily functions. They play an important role in the functions of enzymes that regulate bodily chemical reactions. They are particularly important in the process of turning food into energy and deriving other nutrients from it. B vitamins can be found in a number of animal and plant sources.
Some of the functions of the vitamins in vitamins B complex include:
* Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) assist the body in producing energy. They affect enzymes that regulate muscles tissue, nerves, and the heart.
* Vitamin B3 (niacin) also has a role in producing energy at the cellular level. It helps to maintain healthy skin, digestive system and nervous system.
* Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) has an important role to play in growth and development.
* Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) assists the body in breaking down protein. It also helps with the health of red blood cells, parts of the immune system and the nervous system.
* Vitamin B7 (biotin) assists with the breakdown of carbohydrate and protein. It also helps the body to produce hormones.
* Vitamin B9 (folic acid) assists cells within the body to make and maintain DNA. It is also critical to the formation of red blood cells.
* Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) also plays an important role in bodily development and growth. It plays a part in the production of blood cells, and assists in the functioning of the nervous system. It also helps to regulate how the body utilizes carbohydrates and folic acid.
A deficiency in B vitamins can cause conditions such as anemia, depression, respiratory infections and eczema and can cause symptoms such as loss of appetite, tiredness, abdominal pain, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, muscle cramps and hair loss. It may also lead to birth defects (if the deficiency is in the pregnant mother) and poor growth in children.
Women who are pregnant or who are breast-feeding require more vitamin B9 (folic acid) than others. All women who are of childbearing age are recommended to increase their ingestion of folic acid in order to help prevent birth defects.
Studies have also found that deficiencies in B vitamins may weaken immune function, and may also leave the body vulnerable to cancer. High doses of B vitamins are often prescribed as treatments for people suffering from cancer.
A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables and grain products should be sufficient to provide the body with the required amounts of B vitamins. Vitamins B1 and B2 can be found in whole grains and cereals. B1 is also found in pork, potatoes, seafood, kidney beans and liver. Sources of vitamin B2 include enriched bread, liver, dairy products and leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale). Vitamin B3 can be found in fish, liver, red meat, chicken, whole grains, dried beans and nuts. Vitamin B5 can be found in almost every type of food. Vitamin B6 can be found in liver, fish, pork, chicken, potatoes, bananas, wheat germ, and dried beans. Vitamin B7 is produced by bacteria in the intestine and can also be found in liver, peanuts, egg yolks, mushrooms, bananas, watermelon, and grapefruit. Vitamin B9 can be found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, liver, mushrooms, peas, nuts, dried beans, and wheat bread. Meat, eggs, meat, shellfish, poultry milk, and milk products are all good sources of B12.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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