Did you know that lack of Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine leads to loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, irritability, convulsion and dermatitis? Well, if you did- well done. If you didn’t, don’t worry, many of us don’t realize what role vitamins play in our well-being. When was the last time you had your vitamin levels checked? Here is a quick summary of why you should be aware of the vital role vitamins play in your body.
The main vitamins that the body needs are A, B group, C, D, E and K. Vitamins and minerals are often referred to collectively as micro-nutrients. Micro-nutrients often work together to perform a job within the body. That is why it is so important to eat a varied balanced diet so that a good range of vitamins and minerals can be obtained.
The role of Vitamins within the body is to regulate certain bodily functions, help in the building of body tissues, bone and blood and to help the body metabolize fats, carbs and proteins which enables the body to obtain energy from the food we eat. So if you are a high performer looking for heightened and sustained levels of energy, you now know what to eat!
Today, let’s see how the Vitamin B group contributes to our energy and well-being. The B group of vitamins consists of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12.
Vitamin B1- Thiamine
This is a water soluble vitamin, so cannot be stored in the body and therefore needs to be topped up daily. It acts as a coenzyme to release energy from the carbohydrates, fats and alcohol that is put into the body. It is also involved in the transmission of nerve signals and the formation of collagen in the skin. It’s also a mild diuretic.
Deficiency of B1 can result to the conditition; Beri beri and it is sometimes seen in alcoholics as a form of dementia.
Some of the symptoms include;
Vitamin B1 is found in; Lean pork, unrefined cereals, Nuts, seeds and nuts.
Vitamin B2/ Riboflavin
It is also a water soluble vitamin and has to be topped up daily. All the B vitamins are water soluble. As with B1, vitamin B2 also acts as a coenzyme. It helps the body use and digest carbohydrates and proteins. It also acts as an antioxidant. It also protects the mucous membranes
Although acute deficiencies in B2 are rare, symptoms that suggest a person is not receiving enough B2 are;
· Cracks around the nose and mouth
· Fatigue and
Absorption of calcium, iron and zinc may also be affected during deficiency. The people most at risk of deficiency are older people, who may not absorb the vitamin efficiently from their food.
Vitamin B2 is found in most foods of animal origin, E.g. Eggs, Milk, Fish, Meat, it is also found in whole grain products and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B3/ Niacin.
As a water soluble vitamin, excess B3 is eliminated from the body in urine. B3 is involved in energy production, DNA repair, fatty acid synthesis and antioxidant functions. It also helps regulate blood glucose. Therapeutically, nicotinic acid, a form of niacin, can be used to lower cholesterol levels.
Deficiencies in vitamin B3 can cause:
· Sore patches on the skin
· Sore mouth and tongue
Vitamin B3 is found in; Liver, Nuts, Tuna, Chicken, Halibut, Mushrooms
Please note if you are going to supplement B3, High doses of niacin supplements can cause uncomfortable flushes on the hand Supplements consisting of niacinamide are less likely to cause flushes.
Vitamin B5/ pantothenic acid
The active form of B5 is coenzyme A which is vital for life. It is involved in energy production and the synthesis of hormones, fatty acids, proteins and neurotransmitters (chemical messengers)
Although deficiencies are generally thought to be rare, Some Symptoms of deficiency include:
· Muscle aches
· Numbness and burning in lower legs and feet
Vitamin B5 is found in many foods. Good sources include; Chicken, Beef, Potatoes, Oats, Tomatoes, Liver, Kidney, Yeast, Egg yolk, Broccoli, Whole grains.
Vitamin B5 is also manufactured by the beneficial bacteria in the colon.
Vitamin B6/ Pyridoxine.
As a water soluble vitamin, excess B6 is eliminated from the body in urine. Vitamin B6 helps the body process and release energy from proteins and fats. It’s essential in ensuring that the body gets the energy and nutrients it needs from food. It also helps the body to form hemoglobin- substance that carries oxygen around the body. It is also key to sex hormone function and is often prescribed for menstrual difficulties including PMS.
Deficiencies in vitamin B6 can
· cause skin rashes
· an upset stomach, and
· Damage to nerves in infants.
Milder deficiency symptoms include:
· Sores at the corner of the Mouth
· Mouth ulcers
· A sore tongue
Vitamin B6 is found in: Chicken, Pork, Lamb, Fish, Liver, Eggs, Whole grains, Beer, Milk, Brown rice, Soya beans, Potatoes, Nuts and Dark green vegetables
VITAMIN B9/FOLIC ACID or Folate
Folic acid is vital for fetal growth and the development of healthy nerves, cells as well as protein metabolism.
Folic acid alongside B6 and B12 is needed for the metabolism of homocysteine- An Amino acid that is produced by the human body usually as a byproduct of consuming meat.
A deficiency may contribute to a greater risk of heart disease.
Deficiency can also contribute to some forms of anemia.
Deficiencies in folic acid famously cause birth defects in babies such as spina bifida. This is one of the main reasons why pregnant mothers are advised to take folic acid by their doctors.
Folic acid is found in; Green leafy vegetables, Nuts and seeds, Fortified cereals and milks, Wheat germ and Eggs
As a water soluble vitamin, excess B12 is eliminated from the body in urine.
Vitamin B12 helps the nervous system run smoothly and keeps it healthy.
It helps release energy from food, and is essential in processing folic acid in the body.
Vitamin B12 also helps the body manufacture red blood cells.
Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can cause;
· nerve damage.
Vegans and vegetarians are likely to become deficient in vitamin B12, as this vitamin is only found in animal products. B12 deficiency is also common in the elderly.
· As B12 is needed for the metabolism of homocysteine, deficiency can contribute to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Here is a summary;
· All B vitamins are water soluble. This means they cannot be stored in the body. If there is an excess of a water soluble vitamin in the body, it’s simply eliminated in urine. Vitamin B12 is the exception because it can be stored in the liver long term.
· Most of the vitamins needed by the body are not created in the body, but are gained from food therefore eating a well balanced, healthy diet is important to keep the body in tip top condition.
· As vitamins and minerals work in synergy together it is always best to ensure that you do not supplement single vitamin or mineral supplements. Supplementing single vitamin and mineral supplements can be dangerous. For example taking single supplements of the antioxidant vitamins A and E without adequate vitamin C is particularly dangerous as it may result in more free radicals being created in the body resulting in more damage to cells.
· B vitamins have a lot of important functions including providing energy to our cells. They control immune function, hormones, mood, sleep, nerves, circulation and digestion. Vitamin B12, for example, supports the production of white blood cells, which are essential components of the immune system. When your body is low in Vitamin B12, the white blood cell count is lowered, which in turn weakens the immune system, making it more inclined to mistakenly attacking its own cells- rogue immune system = Auto immune conditions
Deficiency in most of the discussed B vitamins, lead to Anemia and fatigue among other energy draining symptoms. If you are seeking for heightened and sustained levels of energy (high performance) be sure to have your B vitamins in check!
Here is to high and consistent energy levels!