When simply referring to Vitamin B you are in fact referring to what is known as the water soluble vitamin B complex. This is a group of vitamins consisting of the vitamins B1 thiamine, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin, B5 pantothenic acid, B6 pyridoxine and B12 folic acid. The following, which we hope you will find useful, outlines why you might need or benefit from taking a vitamin B supplement, either as a complex of all the vitamins that make up vitamin B or as individual vitamin components.
Vitamin B1 thiamine.
This vitamin is important to some of the action of enzymes within our bodies. The most significant actions these enzymes have are to metabolize carbohydrates in the food we eat and helping to protect our nerves, muscles and hearts. Vitamin B1 can be obtained through eatingwhole-grained cereals, bread and pasta; it is also present in liver, kidney and pork as well as fish and eggs and many types of beans and nuts. However, there are groups of people who are susceptible to having a vitamin B1deficiency. Apart from those eating a diet lacking in the foods previously mentioned elderly people, especially those who also eat a lot of white flour and like a lot of sugar, could well develop a Vitamin B1deficiency, in which case a vitamin B1 supplement is to be recommended. Medical conditions that can cause vitamin B1 deficiency include overactive thyroid glands, malabsorption and alcohol dependency; as too can post-operative recovery or any serious illness or injury. Mild symptoms include tiredness, irritability and a loss of appetite; whereas more serious symptoms are abdominal pains, depression and even memory loss. In extreme cases a lack of thiamine can lead to the fatal disease beriberi or, in the case of alcoholic dependency Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
Vitamin B2 riboflavin.
This vitamin can be obtained through brewers yeast and the same sort of foods as named above for thiamine. Vitamin B2 also works with the enzymes in our bodies, however the most important job done by riboflavin is to work on the production of hormones in the adrenal gland. As a lack of riboflavin can cause depression it is almost ironic that people taking some anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs can be susceptible to a vitamin B2 deficiency. In terms of the general population women taking oral contraceptives should be aware of developing the symptoms of not getting enough B2.The usual symptoms for having a riboflavin deficiency, apart from depression, are chapped and sore lips, corners of the mouth and even the tongue. Eye disorders can also be indicative of a vitamin B2 deficiency, especially sensitivity to bright lights and visual acuity.
Vitamin B3 niacin.
Essentially niacin contains nicotinic acid; however no one is suggesting that you take up smoking tobacco to raise the levels of niacin in your body. Vitamin B3 is available in the same sorts of food as previously mentioned and also works on enzymes in the body; this time most notably in the maintenance of a healthy skin and the sex hormones. The major cause of a vitamin B3 deficiency is malabsorption and a severe alcohol dependency. Soreness and cracking of the skin are common problems/symptoms with inflammation of the mouth and tongue, along with mental disturbance, being more serious ones. However, in extremely serious cases a lack of niacin can lead to the potentially fatal condition of pellagra.
Vitamin B5 pantothenic acid.
This vitamin is required to ensure the healthy maintenance of corticosteroids and our sex hormones. However, it also plays a vital role in helping our bodies to assimilate other vitamins that we consume, the functioning of the nervous system, our adrenal glands and normal growth patterns. It is important to note here that pantothenic acid deficiency in the vitamin B complex due to a poor diet is very rare. However, again bodily malabsorption disorders and alcohol dependency will cause a vitamin B5 deficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches and nausea, leading to cramps and an increased susceptibility to chest infections. In severe cases peptic ulcers can be formed.
Vitamin B6 pyridoxine.
Vitamin B6 works on enzymes the same as the other vitamin B complexes, working to ensure healthy skin, nervous systems, good digestion etc. However, the very special functions of pyridoxine include helping in the manufacture of red blood cells and anti-bodies. As well as being available through a good diet pyridoxine is actually manufactured in small quantities in the gut by intestinal bacteria. Groups susceptible to vitamin B6 deficiency are as previously mentioned plus people being treated with penicillamine or isoniazid drugs. Symptoms of a lack of pyridoxine include weakness and irritability, sore and cracked skin all the way through to anemia for more serious cases. In young children it has also been known to cause seizures. If you are in need of a vitamin B6 supplement – you must not take an excessive one. 50mg to 100mg a day is quite sufficient and safe to take and are the recommended doses to use, as excessive use can lead to neuritis. NB. Pyridoxine is also thought to help relieve premenstrual syndrome symptoms.
Vitamin B12 folic acid.
Quite simply this vitamin is vital to the production of not only red blood cells but, more importantly for pregnant women, the manufacture of nucleic acids, the genetic material of cells, that growth and reproduction depends on. To the foods previously mentioned for other parts of the vitamin B complex, add green leafy vegetables and fruit; and you’d have a diet rich in folic acid. Pregnant women have for many years now been recommended to take a folic acid supplement during pregnancy and, if possible, in the case of planned pregnancies, in the months prior to conception. This recommendation is made to reduce the likelihood of neural tube defects in the fetus. As well as pregnant women anyone undergoing dialysis as a result of kidney failure should consider a folic acid supplement as should people with various blood disorders, psoriasis and malabsorption disorders. Taking a range of prescription drugs can also lead to a Vitamin B12 deficiency – for example anticonvulsants, anti-malarial, analgesics, corticosteroid and sulfonamide drugs. Signs that you might have a folic acid deficiency include anemia, mouth sores and, in children, slow growth rates.