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What is Vitamin B?

Vitamin B is one of the essentials needed by your body to gain sufficient energy. It not only regulates the energy level of your body but also improves brain function and the metabolism of cells. There are 8 types of Vitamin B. Some of the common food items containing a good amount of Vitamin B are vegetables, yeast, eggs, salmon, milk, etc. Deficiency of Vitamin B can result in fatigue, weakness of muscles, anaemia, and so on. Being a part of a balanced diet, it is essential that you get enough Vitamin B in your daily food habit. 

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Functions of Vitamin B

Different types of Vitamin B complex have varied functions in the body.

  • Carbohydrate breakdown:

Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is needed for breaking down carbohydrates and formation of neurotransmitters. It also helps in generation of fatty acids and hormonal synthesis.

  • Energy production:

Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin helps in energy production and breakdown of fats and medicines

  • Proper metabolism:

Vitamin B3 or Niacin is converted by the body into an enzyme called NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) which is essential for over 400 enzyme reactions including cellular metabolism, transforming energy stored in fats, proteins and carbohydrates into a form that can be used, and coordination among different cells.

  • Growth and regeneration:

Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid helps in the creation of new fats, proteins and coenzymes. It also plays a role in metabolism.

  • Brain development:

Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine supports over 100 enzyme reactions including brain development, stronger immune system, breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, and metabolism of amino acid.

  • DNA regulation and nutrient synthesis:

Vitamin B7 or Biotin is needed for breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, cellular communication and DNA regulation.

  • Cellular division:

Vitamin B9 or Folate is important in cell division, DNA replication, vitamin and amino acids metabolism.

  • Creation of new RBCs:

Vitamin B 12 is termed Cobalamin because it contains cobalt. It is crucial for generation of new red blood cells, body metabolism, proper neurological functions and DNA synthesis.

Vitamin B Health Benefits

Vitamin B has a vital role in maintaining good health and well-being. Vitamin B is crucial for pregnant and lactating women as it assists in the brain development of the fetus. For mothers about to give birth, Vitamin B increases energy levels and reduces the risk of preeclampsia.It regulates the body's energy levels, cellular function and metabolism, and also plays a crucial role in development of red blood cells, eyesight, digestion, and appetite. Vitamin B is also responsible for promoting nerve function, maintaining proper hormonal and cholesterol balance and ensuring cardiovascular health.

  • Proper bodily functioning:

Vitamin B regulates the body's energy levels, cellular function and metabolism.

  • Growth and appetite:

Vitamin B helps in cellular health, development of red blood cells, eyesight, digestion, and appetite.

  • Neurological and cardiovascular health:

Vitamin B also promotes nerve function, proper hormonal and cholesterol balance and cardiovascular health.

  • Development of fetus:

Vitamin B is crucial for pregnant and lactating women as it assists in the brain development of the fetus.

  • Energy Levels during pregnancy:

For women about to give birth, Vitamin B increases energy levels and reduces the risk of preeclampsia.

  • Higher Vigour:

Vitamin B is also said to increase testosterone levels in men and enhance virility which reduces with age.

 

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Vitamin B Deficiency

Taking a healthy, balanced diet ensures that the daily intake of Vitamin B is met, however, its deficiency not only hampers normal bodily functioning but also makes it susceptible to illnesses due to weakened immunity. Some of the common symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency are rashes and cracks on skin and mouth, tongue swelling, tiredness and exhaustion, weakness, dizziness, depression, nausea, anemia, cramps in the stomach, diarrhea and tingling sensation in limbs. Symptoms vary depending on the Vitamin B type that is deficient in the body.

  • Vitamin B1 deficiency:

Weight loss and loss of appetite are common symptoms of this deficiency.

  • Vitamin B2 deficiency:

It usually occurs when the person suffers from endocrine gland disorders like thyroid, so the most common and visible symptom is mouth and throat swelling.

  • Vitamin B3 deficiency:

It results in Pellagra that leads to skin discoloration, rough skin patches, vomiting, headache.

  • Vitamin B5 deficiency:

It causes sleeplessness, headache and irritable behavior is experienced..

  • Vitamin B7 deficiency:

Hair-thinning, scaly rash eyes and depression are common symptoms of Vitamin B-7 deficiency.

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency:

It increases the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders. There is a higher probability of birth defects in children born to mothers deficient in Vitamin B12.

Those who are deficient in any type of Vitamin B should consult a doctor and take Vitamin B complex supplements on prescription. Pregnant women and those over the age of 50 are more likely to require supplements. Those with health conditions or Alcohol Use Disorder should consult a doctor before taking Vitamin B supplements.

Sources of Vitamin B

Vitamin B occurs naturally in a range of foods like milk, eggs, cheese, liver, chicken, fish, red meat, and oysters. Vitamin B rich food sources also include green vegetables such as spinach, beans like kidney beans and chickpeas. Vitamin B is water-soluble so it isn't stored in the body and is excreted daily via urine. This makes adequate consumption of Vitamin B, both through diet and nutritional supplements, really important.

Food

Quantity

Vitamin B (micrograms)

Beef Liver

3 ounces

70.7

Tuna Fish

3 ounces

9.3

Milk

1 cup

1.3

Yogurt

6 ounces

1.0

Fortified Cereals

1 serving

0.6

Cheese

1.5 ounces

0.5

Eggs

1 piece

0.5

 

Conclusion

Vitamin B is essential Vitamin for both everyday body functions and maintaining long-term health. It also protects the body against diseases, boosts metabolism and regulates cellular activities and metabolism. Vitamin B deficiency leads to a variety of symptoms from insomnia, fatigue, headache to skin discoloration. In case of any symptoms consult the doctor immediately. Pregnant women and elderly need to be extra cautious about their daily intake of Vitamin B. Vitamin B deficiency in pregnant women increases the risk of birth deformities in children. Vitamin B is found in regular dietary items like milk, eggs, meat, cheese, citrus fruits and green vegetables. Vitamin B supplements should only be taken after doctor’s advice. While the right foods that let you be inline with the adequate vitamin B intake for your body, uncertainties may still arise. That is why getting the right financial coverage via a health insurance policy is important.

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