Vitamin B: General Info

Vitamin B, or the B complex, is comprised of several vitamins. The name originates from the fact that, at one point, it was believed to be a single vitamin such as vitamin E. Vitamin B is actually a complex of unique vitamins often found in the same foods. Generally speaking, they often function with one another to support a host of functions in the body, including the metabolizing of food, red blood cell production, maintenance of skin, muscle tone, and nervous system function. They also bolster the immune system and promote cell growth and division.

Health benefits

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is integral in the metabolism of carbohydrates into energy, and for normal nerve and heart function. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps to metabolize carbohydrates and amino acids, and nourishes mucous membranes. Vitamin B3 (niacin) metabolizes carbohydrates and fats. Excess niacin can cause flushing, itching, gout, liver damage, and increase glucose blood levels. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is used to metabolize amino acids and fatty acids, produce red blood cells, keep skin healthy, and preserve nerve functioning. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) along with folic acid, is used in DNA synthesis and to produce red blood cells. It is also required for proper nerve function and is unique as a vitamin, since it is stored in the body, mainly in the liver, in vast amounts. Folic Acid works with vitamin B12 in DNA synthesis and to produce red blood cells.

Deficiency in vitamin B

Vitamin B deficiencies can cause a wide range of symptoms, including anemias, depending upon which specific vitamin B is deficient. Excess syndromes are not usually a problem as B Vitamins are water soluble, and usually pass safely out of the body. Folic Acid is usually not toxic, but when high doses are given to people deficient in Vitamin B12, nerve damage may result.

Foods containing vitamin B

Sources of vitamin B complex include whole grains, meat (beef, pork, lamb, and especially liver and kidney products), eggs, milk, cheese, fish, potatoes and nuts.