B vitamin is a group of 8 different water-soluble vitamins, each having a very specific compound with unique benefits to our body. They are responsible for different bodily functions and thus together are the building blocks of an active body. These water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored by the body, thus requiring you to consume them everyday as a part of the diet. B vitamins are extremely essential to our health as they are in charge of metabolising food into fuel and energy.
Here we list them down with their benefits and sources.
- Vitamin B1 – thiamine
- Vitamin B2 – riboflavin
- Vitamin B3 – niacin
- Vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid
- Vitamin B6 – pyridoxine
- Vitamin B7 – biotin
- Vitamin B9 – folate
- Vitamin B12 – cobalamin
This vitamin plays a very important role in our nervous system. It has been found to improve the cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. Thiamine has been lauded the “anti-stress vitamin” as it can improve mood and reduce the ill effects of mental stress. It is also responsible for turning glucose into energy taking care of the carbohydrate metabolism.
There are ample natural ingredients full of vitamin B1 as nearly all foods contain some amount of thiamine.
- Wholegrain cereals, whole-wheat bread and legumes contain a good amount to be included in our daily diet.
- The richest source of thiamine is yeast.
- Sesame seeds are another big source along with nuts like pistachios, macadamia and hazelnuts.
- Pork serves a huge portion of B1 along with beef and eggs.
- Dates are also loaded with Thiamine.
- Fortified food items like breads, flour and pasta are another favourite source of thiamine.
Riboflavin – B2
This vitamin not only helps promote energy production but also metabolises fat efficiently. It is a very important vitamin for iron absorption, a deficiency of which would lead to anaemia. It is proved to be critical in skin and eye health.
- Dairy products make the greatest contribution when it comes to providing us vitamin B2.
- Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and mushrooms are also a major source.
- Fish, meat and eggs also contain riboflavin.
- Medjool dates and hazelnuts are a great source of this vitamin.
Niacin – B3
Niacin is a name of one of the 8 essential B vitamins. Its name is derived from nicotinic acid vitamin. It is vital as an inflammation-reducing vitamin and could help alleviate symptoms of arthritis due to this. It is also responsible for our skin, nervous system and digestive health. Some research suggests that niacin can be used to manage cholesterol levels as it increases the HDL and reduces the LDL. It is also known to help treat migraines.
- Yeast is a major source of niacin.
- Foods like meat, fish, mushrooms and green vegetables provide us with enough of this vitamin B3.
- Peanuts, sunflower seeds and adzuki beans are known as a good source of niacin too.
- It is also known that niacin can be made by the body from the amino acid tryptophan which is present in eggs, dairy, chicken and meat.
Pantothenic acid – B5
This vitamin is used by our body to metabolise fatty acid. Pantothenic acid helps in regeneration and growth of skin cells. It works to avoid signs of premature aging and also treats acne due to its oil metabolising property. B5 is a great vitamin for overall health as it helps keep cholesterol levels down, helps us deal with stress and works to keep skin and hair healthy. It also seems to help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms according to some studies.
The name Pantothenic acid has its roots in the Greek word “panthos” meaning “everywhere” because this vitamin is found in an array of foods.
- Vegetables like cabbage, sweet potatoes and mushrooms are flooded with this vitamin B.
- Whole-grain cereals, sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes and yogurt are other good sources.
- High protein foods like eggs, meat and oily fish also contain pantothenic acid.
Pyridoxine – B6
This B vitamin is used to metabolise carbohydrate and protein from our food. It is also responsible for making red blood cells and producing haemoglobin. It also makes hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine which balance our mood. The production of melatonin, which regulates our circadian rhythm also requires pyridoxine.
- Dairy products pack a punch of pyridoxine.
- Meats, poultry and turkey.
- it is also available from vegetables and fruits like spinach, carrots, peas, bananas, oranges and cantaloupes.
- Vitamin B6 is also found in nuts like pistachios along with oats, chickpeas.
- Many soy products contain pyridoxine too.
Biotin – B7
Vitamin B7 is also called vitamin H (for hair) as it supports and maintains the health of hair and nails. Its main function is energy production and fat synthesis. It supports many organs of our body like the skin, digestive tract, and nerves.
Although biotin is found in a large variety of foods, it is usually in a very low quantity.
- Vegetables rich in biotin are sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower and carrots.
- Wholegrain bread and cereals, egg yolks, nuts.
- Dairy products also contain vitamin B7.
- Yeast, like every other B vitamin has ample biotin.
Folate – B9
Folate (from natural foods) or folic acid (synthetic form) is extremely necessary for development of the foetal nervous system. It is responsible for making the genetic material of the foetus from pregnancy till adolescence. Production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the entire body is also done by folate.
- Citrus fruits like strawberries, oranges and grapefruit are a rich source of folate.
- Seeds like sunflower and flax, nuts like walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are rich in this B vitamin.
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach and mustard greens are packed with folate.
- Other vegetables like beets, corn, celery, carrots, and okra.
- All dairy products are full of B9 too.
- Salmon and beef liver are a major source of folate too.
Cobalamin – B12
Vitamin B12 plays a very vital role in our nervous system as it maintains the myelin which is a substance that forms the sheath covering the nerves. Thus, it is very important for overall brain function. Other than that, the production and multiplication of red blood cells depends on it too.
Folate and B12 work interdependently to keep us healthy.
- Organ meats like liver and kidney have a super concentration of B12.
- Shellfish, tuna and sardines, trout and salmon are packed with it too.
- Eggs are a great source of B12.
- Milk and dairy products.
- Fortified breakfast cereals.
- Fortified nutritional yeasts.
- Chlorella and Spirulina – types of algae could be good sources show some studies.
Article by – Payal Kurian