B vitamins are a group of nutrients that play many important roles in your body. Most people get the recommended amounts of these vitamins through diet alone, as they are found in a wide variety of foods.

However, factors such as age, pregnancy, food choices, medical conditions, genetics, medications, and alcohol consumption increase the body’s demand for B vitamins. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to take B vitamin supplements.

Here are the health benefits of the 8 B vitamins.

What are the B group vitamins?

B vitamins are water-soluble, which means your body does not store them. This is why your diet must provide it every day. B vitamins have many important functions and are essential for the maintenance of good health.

Group B vitamins contain the following elements:

B1 (thiamine): Thiamine plays an essential role in metabolism by helping to convert nutrients into energy. The richest food sources are pork, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.

B2 (riboflavin): Riboflavin helps convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant. The foods highest in riboflavin are organ meats, beef, and mushrooms.

B3 (Niacin): Niacin plays a role in cell signaling, metabolism, and DNA production and repair. Food sources include chicken, tuna, and lentils.

B5 (pantothenic acid): Like other B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps your body get energy from food and is also involved in the production of hormones and cholesterol. Liver, fish, yogurt and avocado are all good sources.

B6 (pyridoxine): Pyridoxine is involved in the metabolism of amino acids, the production of red blood cells and the creation of neurotransmitters. The foods richest in this vitamin are chickpeas, salmon and potatoes.

B7 (Biotin): Biotin is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism and regulates gene expression. Yeast, eggs, salmon, cheese, and liver are some of the best food sources of biotin.

B9 (folate): Folate is necessary for cell growth, amino acid metabolism, formation of red and white blood cells and proper cell division. It is found in foods like leafy green vegetables, liver and beans or in supplements in the form of folic acid.

B12 (cobalamin): Perhaps the best known of all the B vitamins, B12 is vital for neurological function, DNA production, and red blood cell development. B12 is found naturally in animal sources like meats, eggs, seafood, and dairy products.

Although these vitamins share certain characteristics, they all have unique functions and are needed in different amounts.

Who should take a B vitamin?

Since B vitamins are present in many foods, you are unlikely to be at risk of developing a deficiency as long as you follow a balanced diet. However, certain circumstances increase the need for B vitamins, making supplements necessary.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women

During pregnancy, the demand for B vitamins, especially B12 and folate, increases to support fetal development. In pregnant or breastfeeding women, especially those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, taking a supplement of B vitamins is crucial. B12 or folate deficiency in pregnant or breastfeeding women can lead to severe neurological damage or birth defects in the fetus or infant.

older adults

As we age, the ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases and appetite decreases, making it difficult for some people to absorb enough B12 from food alone. The body’s ability to release B12 from food so that it can be absorbed depends on having enough stomach acid. However, it is estimated that 10-30% of people over the age of 50 do not produce enough stomach acid to properly absorb B12. B12 deficiency has been linked to increased rates of depression and mood disorders in older adults. Vitamin B6 and folate deficiencies are also common in older people.

People with certain diseases

People with certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, alcoholism, hypothyroidism, and anorexia, are more likely to develop nutrient deficiencies, especially B vitamins. Also, the MTHFR genetic mutation can affect how your body metabolizes folate and can lead to folate deficiency and other health problems. In addition, people who have undergone certain weight loss operations are also more likely to be deficient in B vitamins. In these circumstances, patients are often advised to supplement with B complex vitamins to correct or avoid deficiencies. .

Vegetarians and Vegans

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood. Vegans and strict vegetarians are at risk of developing a B12 deficiency if they do not consume enough of this vitamin per day. through fortified foods or supplements. Taking a B-complex vitamin daily can help people who choose to follow a diet that eliminates animal products get enough of these important nutrients.

People taking certain medications

Commonly prescribed medications can lead to B vitamin deficiency. For example, proton pump inhibitors, which are drugs that reduce stomach acid, can decrease B12 absorption, while metformin , a popular diabetes medication, can decrease B12 and folate levels. Birth control pills can also deplete several B vitamins, including B6, B12, folate, and riboflavin.

Health Benefits of Taking B Vitamins

Although certain conditions make taking a B vitamin supplement necessary for some people, research has shown that taking a B complex supplement may be helpful even for people who do not have an increased need. of these nutrients.

May reduce stress and improve mood

B vitamins are often used to reduce fatigue and improve mood. Some studies suggest that B vitamins can lift your mood and improve your cognitive performance. A 33-day study in 215 healthy men found that treatment with a high-dose B-complex and mineral supplement improved overall mental health and stress and improved performance on cognitive tests. Another study in young adults showed that taking a multivitamin containing high levels of B vitamins for 90 days reduced stress and mental fatigue.

May reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression

Although B vitamin supplements are not a cure for mental health problems, they can help improve symptoms of depression or anxiety. A study in 60 adults with depression showed that treatment with B vitamins for 60 days led to significant improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety, compared to a placebo.

B vitamins may also improve response to treatment when given in combination with antidepressants. One study showed that supplementing patients with a vitamin containing B12, B6 and folic acid resulted in a greater and longer lasting antidepressant response over one year, compared to a placebo. Of note, low blood levels of certain B vitamins, including B12, B6, and folic acid, have been linked to an increased risk of depression. That’s why it’s important to rule out nutrient deficiencies if you have symptoms of depression.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.