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The B Vitamins

The B Vitamins

Did you know there are 8 B vitamins? The structure of each B vitamin is quite different, but they tend to be found in the same foods and have similar functions in the body. B vitamins are water soluble - which means they are not stored in the body, and therefore we need a daily intake of foods rich in B vitamins to avoid deficiency. Let’s have a deeper look at the B vitamins!

B1 - Thiamin

Thiamin was the first B vitamin that was discovered, and it plays a vital role in the growth and function of various cells, and in the breakdown of carbohydrates, and is needed to maintain steady energy levels. Thiamin is found in foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, dairy and whole grains, so a healthy, varied diet should provide adequate amounts of thiamin.

B2 - Riboflavin

Riboflavin plays a major role in energy production, cellular function, and metabolism. It is found in foods such as eggs, meats, and dairy, as well as some vegetables. It is also produced in the large intestine after ingesting vegetable-based foods! Vitamin B2 supplements are often used to help relieve migraines, as some research has found that high doses of Vitamin B2 may be useful in decreasing the days, duration, frequency and pain score of migraine attacks!

B3 - Niacin

Nicotinic acid and nicotinamide are collectively known as niacin, which is a B vitamin involved in the utilisation of energy from food, and is found in foods such as meats, wheat and maize flour, eggs and dairy. Niacin supplements, specifically ones containing nicotinic acid, are commonly used to treat high cholesterol levels, but be aware of the niacin flush! Nicotinic acid supplements can cause flushing, which is characterised by redness, warmth, itching and tingling sensation to the skin - however, this effect can be minimised by taking your niacin supplement with a meal and avoiding having it with alcohol or hot drinks. 

B5 - Pantothenic acid

Vitamin B5 is necessary for the release of energy from fats. Deficiency is unlikely as it can be found in almost all animal and plant based foods - hence its name “pantothenic”, which means “from everywhere”! What’s interesting about this vitamin is that oral supplementation of pantothenic acid has been found effective in reducing acne - maybe B5 is the vitamin we needed for silky smooth skin all along!

B6 - Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 is involved in many enzymatic reactions, but most importantly in the metabolism of amino acids. It is found in a wide range of foods such as meats, eggs, wholegrain cereals, nuts and legumes. Vitamin B6 is often found in hormone balancing supplements, as studies have found that supplementing this B vitamin may be beneficial in treating PMS symptoms!

B7 - Biotin

Biotin is essential for the metabolism of fats. Very small amounts are required, and sufficient amounts may be produced by bacteria found in the large intestine! Biotin is usually associated with hair supplements, as it plays an important role in the production of keratin - a type of protein which makes up hair, skin and nails. Studies to show biotin's efficiency in promoting hair growth is limited, however there is strong evidence to support biotin's effectiveness in preventing hair loss in individuals with hair loss caused by a biotin deficiency - this is certainly not a vitamin you want to miss! 

B9 - Folate and Folic acid

Folate is necessary for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, and some amino acids. It is found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, beans, legumes, and fruits. The recommended daily intake of folate is 200µg per day, but it is recommended for women to supplement with 400µg folic acid (which is the synthetic form of folate) per day during pregnancy, as higher folate levels during pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of neural tube defects

B12 - Cobalamin

B12, aka cobalamin, is a mixture of several related compounds which contain the trace element cobalt. It plays an important role in the maintenance of the central nervous system and DNA synthesis, and B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia and eventually nerve damage. Vitamin B12 does not occur in foods of vegetable origins, only meat, dairy and eggs - supplements are therefore a vegan's best friend!

The bottom line...

Due to the B vitamins' roles in a variety of metabolic processes and the consequences of deficiency, it is crucial to have sufficient intakes of all 8 B vitamins through diet or with the help of supplements. You can supplement the B vitamins individually depending on the effect you are after - browse through the MOBU B vitamin range here! If you want the wonderful benefits of all the B vits - opt for a Vitamin B complex!

Which B vit is your favourite?
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