Save Money And Buy The Right Supplement: Why Do We Need Vitamin B? A Summary Of The Functions And Deficiencies

Reading natural product ingredients can be overwhelming. You might be thinking what does vitamin B do? And why are there so many kinds of vitamin B’s? I made a quick summary of the most important vitamin B’s commercially available. And designed some infographics to make the learning process easier. Let’s begin…

Vitamin B1 (thiamine or aneurin)

Function

Plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids by acting as a co-enzyme.

People at a risk for deficiencies

  • Heavy alcohol consumption (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)

Foods that are rich in vitamin B1

  • Grain products
  • Pork and ham, and fortified meat

Results of a deficiency

Beriberi, a disease more prevalent in developing countries.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Function

Vitamin B2 is a coenzyme involved in the oxidation-reduction pathways of metabolic pathways and assist in energy production.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B2

  • Milk
  • Bread products and fortified cereals

People at risk of a deficiency

  • Patients undergoing dialysis
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women

Results of a deficiency

  • A deficiency of vitamin B6 and niacin.
  • Sore throat
  • Hyperemia (increase blood flow) and edema of pharynx and mouth
  • Cheilosis (cracks in mouth corners)
  • Mouth sores
  • Dandruff
  • Anemia

Vitamin B3 (niacin or nicotinamide)

Function

Vitamin B3 is important to assist with intracellular respiration and fatty acid synthesis. Tryptophan is converted to nicotinamide inside the body, this makes vitamin B3 one of the two vitamins which can be synthesized in the body.

People at risk of a deficiency

  • Patients on medication such as Isoniazid (TB treatment)
  • Patients with Hartnup’s disease
  • Patients with liver cirrhosis and with chronic alcoholism

Foods that are rich in vitamin B3

  • Meat, liver, poultry, and fish

Results of a deficiency

  • Pellagra (symptoms include: pigmented rash, gastrointestinal disorders, bright red tong, depression, fatigue, and memory loss)

Result of an overdose

  • Flushing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Liver toxicity
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired glucose tolerance

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Function

  • Involved in the synthesis of coenzyme A which helps with the synthesis of fatty acids and steroid hormones such as vitamin A and vitamin D

Foods that are rich in vitamin B5

  • Chicken, beef, liver, and kidney
  • Potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Tomato
  • Egg yolk
  • Brocolli

Results of a deficiency

  • Irritability, apathy, sleep disturbances and restlessness
  • Fatigue and malaise
  • Numbness, paresthesias, muscle cramps
  • Sensitivity to insulin

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Function

  • Acts as a turbo (coenzyme) in the metabolism of proteins and glycogen.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B6

  • Fortified products including cereals, soy meats
  • Beef liver and other organs
  • Meat, fish or poultry
  • Potatoes
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Non-citrus fruits

Interaction with medication such as Isoniazid (TB) & L-Dopa (parkinsonism). Alcoholics tend to have a deficiency.

Results of a deficiency

  • Skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis. Anemia and central nervous system diseases (convulsions, depression, and confusion)
  • Associated in preeclampsia, a fatal state of high blood pressure in pregnant women

Result of an overdose

Very large amount needed, not very frequent.

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Vitamin B7 (biotin)

There is very little information available, but because it is an ingredient used in various products I decided to mention it. It is mainly used for cosmetic reasons especially to improve and assist in the growth of hair and nails.

People at risk of a deficiency

  • People who had hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis

Results of a deficiency

  • Dermatitis (a skin condition)
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Brittle fingernails
  • Eye infection

Vitamin 9 (Folate or folic acid)

Function

Acts as a coenzyme in the metabolism of nucleic and amino acids. Folic acid is the most stable form of folate.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B9

  • Fortified products
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Beans and legumes

People at risk of a deficiency

  • People at risk for vitamin B12 (excess folate can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency)
  • Vegans
  • Bacterial overgrowth of the gut
  • Females while pregnant
  • Patients using the following medications: diphenylhydantoin, phenobarbital, methotrexate, some antibiotics (pyrimethamine, trimethoprim), triamterene and sulfasalazine.

Results of a deficiency

  • Weakness, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Function

  • The coenzyme, important in fatty acid metabolism.
  • Normal blood formation
  • Neurological function

Vitamin B12 can only be absorbed in the stomach produces adequate intrinsic factor, the pancreas is working and the small intestine functions normally.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B12

  • Animal products: liver, game, and fish (shellfish, sardines, herring, and trout)
  • Fortified plant-based foods
  • Milk (un-boiled)

People at risk of a deficiency

  • People older than 50 have a higher risk of having a deficiency and are advised to use supplements. Because they are prone to develop gastritis.
  • Individuals with Chron’s disease
  • Patients that had a gastrectomy
  • HIV positive with chronic diarrhea

Results of a deficiency

  • Pernicious anemia: stomach can’t produce intrinsic factor.
  • Weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and palpitations.
  • Tingling and numbness in limbs
  • Cognitive changes
  • Walk disturbances
  • Sore tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flatulence and constipation

Note: Folate deficiencies show the same symptoms as vitamin B12 deficiencies. People that are folate deficient have megaloblastic anemia. Which means enlarged red blood cells. It also affects the bone marrow elements, thus all your blood cells.

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Resources

  1. Dietary reference intake: The Essential Guide To Nutrient Requirements
  2. SAMF. 10th Edition. 2012
  3. MIMS OTC. 2012
  4. Merck Manual. 19th Edition. 1972

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