Importance of B Vitamins

Understanding vitamin B and how to get it in your diet.

You know that it’s important to eat a balanced diet so you can get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals. If you were to only eat fruits and vegetables, however, you’d miss out on the nutrients found in dairy, protein, and grains. One of many vitamins essential for good health is vitamin B. Interestingly, vitamin B is actually eight different vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). You’ve got to eat a variety of foods to get enough of each B vitamin.

Feeling low in energy, depressed, or extra forgetful? You may be low in one of the B vitamins. Most of the B vitamins take the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you eat and convert them into usable energy. They’re also used to make red blood cells. Here are other benefits offered by each B vitamin and the foods you can find them in.

B1 (Thiamine)

More commonly known as thiamine, vitamin B1 helps keep your nervous system functioning properly. A thiamine deficiency can lead to beriberi, a disease that harms your digestive system, nervous system, and heart. Someone with beriberi may have trouble walking, numbness in the extremities, paralysis, and heart failure.

You can get thiamine from beef, liver, pork, nuts, and eggs. Breakfast cereals and whole grain breads are typically fortified with thiamine.

B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin is used by your body to promote healthy eyes, immune system, muscles, and blood cells. A deficiency may lead to migraines, cataracts, or acne.
Thankfully, it’s easy to find. Riboflavin is found in green veggies, meat, nuts, eggs, whole-grains, dairy, and fortified cereals.

B3 (Niacin)

You need niacin to maintain a healthy appetite and digestive system. Without it you may experience nausea, cramping, and mental confusion.
Get your daily dose of niacin by eating fish, liver, chicken, whole grains, peanuts, dairy, and legumes.

B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Pantothenic acid is essential for proper growth and hormone production.
Good sources of vitamin B5 include cabbage, broccoli, kale, avocado, potatoes, liver, and dairy.

B6 (Pyridoxine)

In addition to converting food to energy, vitamin B6 helps prevent anemia, depression, nausea, skin rashes, and infections. It also works to keep your brain, skin, immune system, and nerves healthy.

You can find pyridoxine in beans, veggies, meat, liver, eggs, fish, and whole grains.

B7 (Biotin)

Vitamin B7 is often referred to as vitamin H due to the benefits it offers your hair and nails. Biotin is also used by your body to care for your skin, digestive system, and nerves.

Get your recommended daily amounts of biotin in foods such as cauliflower, carrots, salmon, eggs, nuts, dairy, liver, and whole grains.

B9 (Folic Acid)

Pregnant women need to take special care to make sure they’re eating enough folic acid. Without adequate amounts of this vitamin, babies are at risk for birth defects. A deficiency in other folks can lead to anemia or diarrhea.
Folic acid is found in foods such as meat, liver, fish, beets, whole grains, legumes, and green vegetables.

B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system. Without enough of this vitamin you may experience anemia, confusion, dementia, irritability, depression, fatigue, constipation, or behavioral problems.

To get vitamin B12, include plenty of eggs, cheese, milk, fish, liver, or red meat in your diet.