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Unlocking the Power of B Vitamins: The Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on March 6, 2023

B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in various biochemical reactions in the body. These vitamins are essential for maintaining good health and preventing certain health conditions.

VitaminProper NameKey Roles in Health
B1ThiamineHelps convert carbohydrates into energy; important for nerve function, heart health, muscle function, and digestion (1)
B2RiboflavinHelps convert food into energy; important for eye health, skin health, hormone metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, and antioxidant activity through glutathione regeneration (2)
B3NiacinHelps convert food into energy; important for healthy skin, nerves, and digestion, and may improve cholesterol levels and lower cardiovascular risk (3)
B5Pantothenic acidHelps convert food into energy; important for the synthesis of hormones, cholesterol, and Coenzyme A (CoA), which is required for many cellular processes (4)
B6PyridoxineHelps produce neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, and is important for immune function, cognitive development, and hemoglobin synthesis; may also reduce cardiovascular risk through homocysteine metabolism (5)
B7BiotinImportant for healthy hair, skin, and nails; helps convert food into energy and is involved in fatty acid synthesis (6)
B9FolateImportant for cell growth and development, DNA synthesis and repair, and red blood cell formation; may reduce the risk of neural tube defects, some cancers, and cardiovascular disease through homocysteine metabolism (7)
B12CobalaminHelps produce DNA and red blood cells, and is important for nerve function and homocysteine metabolism; may also improve cognitive function and protect against neurodegenerative disease (8)
B Vitamins Table - Key Roles in Health

Thiamine (B1), for example, is important for converting carbohydrates into energy, and is essential for nerve function and heart health. Riboflavin (B2) helps convert food into energy and is important for eye and skin health. Niacin (B3) also helps convert food into energy and is important for healthy skin, nerves, and digestion. Pantothenic acid (B5) is important for the synthesis of hormones and cholesterol, and also helps convert food into energy. Pyridoxine (B6) helps produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, and is important for immune function and cognitive development. Biotin (B7) is important for healthy hair, skin, and nails, and also helps convert food into energy. Folic acid (B9) is important for cell growth and development, and helps prevent birth defects. Finally, cobalamin (B12) helps produce DNA and red blood cells, and is important for nerve function.

Deficiencies in B vitamins can lead to a range of health problems, including anemia, skin disorders, and nerve damage. Some groups of people may be at higher risk of B vitamin deficiencies, such as older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions.

In conclusion, B vitamins are essential for maintaining good health and preventing certain health conditions. While deficiencies in B vitamins can lead to various health problems, most people can get enough of these important vitamins by eating a balanced diet and with supplementation.

Resources:

  1. Martel JL, Kerndt CC, Doshi H, Franklin DS. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine). 2022 Aug 27. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 29493982.
  2. Saedisomeolia A, Ashoori M. Riboflavin in Human Health: A Review of Current Evidences. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2018;83:57-81. doi: 10.1016/bs.afnr.2017.11.002. Epub 2018 Feb 2. PMID: 29477226.
  3. Garg A, Sharma A, Krishnamoorthy P, Garg J, Virmani D, Sharma T, Stefanini G, Kostis JB, Mukherjee D, Sikorskaya E. Role of Niacin in Current Clinical Practice: A Systematic Review. Am J Med. 2017 Feb;130(2):173-187. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.07.038. Epub 2016 Oct 26. PMID: 27793642.
  4. Sanvictores T, Chauhan S. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid). 2022 Oct 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 33085380.
  5. Abosamak NR, Gupta V. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). 2022 May 23. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 32491368.
  6. Patel DP, Swink SM, Castelo-Soccio L. A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss. Skin Appendage Disord. 2017 Aug;3(3):166-169. doi: 10.1159/000462981. Epub 2017 Apr 27. PMID: 28879195; PMCID: PMC5582478.
  7. Chan YM, Bailey R, O'Connor DL. Folate. Adv Nutr. 2013 Jan 1;4(1):123-5. doi: 10.3945/an.112.003392. PMID: 23319130; PMCID: PMC3648733.
  8. Ankar A, Kumar A. Vitamin B12 Deficiency. 2022 Oct 22. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 28722952.

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