B vitamins are necessary for cell metabolism and producing red blood cells. They are readily available in many types of food. Meat, dairy, beans, leafy greens, whole and fortified grains are all sources of B vitamins. B vitamins can also be taken in the form of B complex supplements or B complex vitamins.
There are eight distinct B vitamins which are often taken in combination. B complex supplements may provide potential benefits to memory and nervous system function, the heart and the circulatory system. These B vitamins are also believed to support skin and the integumentary system, as well as helping to maintain a healthy immune system.
Taking too many B vitamins may lead to unwanted side effects, however. B vitamins are water-soluble and therefore not stored in the body. As a result, it is important to continually seek sources of B vitamins to maintain feelings of health and wellness.
The Body’s Energy Converters
B vitamins fulfill the role of energy metabolism by performing two primary functions. B vitamins are either a coenzyme or a precursor to coenzymes. Coenzymes are non-protein compounds that are necessary for the functioning of an enzyme.
The B vitamins that serve as coenzymes are B1, B6, B7, B9 and B12. B1 (Thiamine) is needed for breaking down sugars and amino acids. B7 (Biotin) is needed for the synthesis of fatty acids and generating glucose. B9 (Folate) is a coenzyme in the form of tetrahydrofolate, which is necessary for the synthesis of amino acids and nucleic acids. B12 (Cobalamin) is involved in the metabolism of many types of cells in the human body. B12 also affects DNA synthesis and regulation, as well as fatty acid metabolism and amino acid metabolism. B6 is also involved in enzymatic reactions in metabolism.
Vitamins B2, B3 and B5 are precursors to coenzymes. B2 (Riboflavin) is a precursor of cofactors called FAD and FMN and are needed for flavoprotein enzyme reactions. B3 (Niacin) is a precursor of coenzymes NAD and NADP which are needed in metabolic practices. Last, vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is a precursor of coenzyme A which is needed to metabolize many molecules.
Support for Healthy Nervous System and Brain Function
Several B vitamins play an important role keeping the brain and nervous system healthy. Vitamin B1 aids in nerve function, B2 plays a role in neurotransmitters, vitamin B6 aids in the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters, and vitamin B12 is essential for the development of sheathing around the nerves in the central nervous system..
Due to their necessary function in the nervous system, a deficiency in these vitamins could result in nerve functioning that is not optimal. A body that is deficient in vitamin B1, B2 or B3 might experience mental confusion. There have been neurological problems reported in infants who are deficient in vitamin B7. Last, a deficiency in vitamin B12 may lead to memory loss or mood swings.
Support for the Circulatory System and Skin Health
Several B vitamins play important roles in keeping the heart healthy and the circulatory system running smoothly. B6 vitamins are important for the synthesis of hemoglobin, which is what carries oxygen to the lungs via the bloodstream. Vitamin B9 helps maintain red blood cell production within the normal range. Vitamin B12 also affects the heart by keeping regular homocysteine levels.
Other B vitamins play important roles in keeping skin cells healthy. A deficiency of vitamin B2 may lead to a host of outward irritations, including cracked lips, sensitivity to sunlight, inflammation of the tongue and sore throat. A deficiency in vitamin B5 can cause skin irritations such as acne. Not enough B6 in the body can lead to a variety of complications affecting the skin. Additionally, vitamin B12 can aid in immune system health which will help the body be less susceptible to illness. However, keep in mind that if you take biotin (vitamin B7) supplements, be sure to inform your doctor. The FDA has found that biotin may interfere with certain lab tests and cause incorrect test results which may go undetected.
B vitamins have many important uses for the body. While they can obtained from food, it can sometimes be helpful to fill nutritional gaps through B complex supplements. If you are interested in supporting a healthy nervous, circulatory, and integumentary system, a B complex supplement or B complex vitamin may be a good choice for you.