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Getting to Know Your Vitamins

Posted on April 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM
Vitamin B

Vitamins save lives, literally. Interestingly enough, however, the average person tends to know so little about them, and how they help our body. For instance, Vitamin B wasn’t discovered until years after the disease Beriberi caused an epidemic in the late 19thcentury. Beriberi is essentially a disease caused by a thiamine deficiency (a Vitamin B1 deficiency). It was the national disease of Japan in the 19thcentury, primarily because the population depended heavily on refined, white rice rather than a whole grain diet (like brown rice, which contains the amine groups).

In fact, the only known US health epidemic occurred from the 1920s to the 1960s due to a Vitamin B3 deficiency which caused the disease Pellagra. Thousands died every year from Pellagra, experiencing symptoms such as broken, dry skin and causing delirious behavior (so badly so that tens of thousands of people were put into insane asylums).

So what’s my point, am I trying to say that a lack of knowledge about Vitamins is going to cause you to contract a terrible illness? No, but hopefully throughout the series of vitamin blogs, I am able to convince you of the power vitamins have to keep your body healthy. There’s an incredible amount of valuable information that could be helpful to your everyday health just waiting to be revealed, and I’m going to begin this journey by discussing Vitamin B.

There are 8 different water-soluble Vitamin B vitamins that make up what we like to call the B-complex. These vitamins are primarily responsible for aiding in metabolic processes such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat synthesis. They aide in the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA, and they can help maintain healthy skin and muscle. Since these vitamins are water soluble, they are easily excreted from the body, so they need be replenished almost daily. This isn’t too much of an issue, considering Vitamin B is so readily available in a balanced diet. However, the issue is so many of us don’t have a balanced diet. With the fast pace of everyday life, and the extensive amount of hip, dessert-like pop up stores coming out with new food trends, it’s easy to skip the basic essentials. With that being said, lets cover the B-complex, one vitamin at a time!

  • Vitamin B1: Thiamine
    • Thiamine is generally responsible for converting food to energy, and it can also have neurological benefits (who doesn’t love a healthy brain!)
    • Some of the best sources for thiamine are whole grains, milk, and eggs.
    • Fortunately, Thiamine deficiencies are rare in the US because even processed grains tend to be fortified with Thiamine.

  • Vitamin B2: Riboflavin
    • Riboflavin is also responsible for helping to convert food to energy, and it has the added benefit of being great for your vision and skin health!
    • The best sources for this vitamin are similar to those of Vitamin B1 and include whole grains, milk, and eggs.

  • Vitamin B3: Niacin
    • Niacin helps convert carbohydrates, fats, and alcohols into energy, while aiding in proper digestion and a healthy appetite. It can also help your skin maintain its health!
    • Some of the best sources of niacin include chicken, fish, liver, red meat, and whole grains.
    • Deficiencies in niacin are not commonly seen in the US because people tend to love their meat

  • Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid
    • Pantothenic acid is especially important for the breakdown of fatty acids, along with carbohydrate and protein metabolism.
    • Some easy, popular ways to get pantothenic acid into your diet is to eat avocados and yoghurt (a favorite of many!)
    • Some studies have shown that pantothenic acid ointment on the skin can help shorten the healing time of wounds and reduce scar tissue.

  • Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine
    • Pyridoxine helps the body turn food into energy, and it can also help the body fight infections.
    • Pregnant/Breastfeeding women need more pyridoxine to help their baby’s brain function.
    • The best sources include tuna, salmon, chicken breast, watermelon, spinach, potatoes, ground beef, and whole grains.
  • Vitamin B7: Biotin
    • Biotin is needed for energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and glycogen synthesis.
    • There is usually no worry for a deficiency of Biotin; however, bodybuilders who consume a lot of raw egg whites can have deficiencies because a protein in egg whites inhibits biotin absorption. This can lead to dry, cracked skin, hallucinations, depression, hair loss, and muscle pain.
    • High biotin uptake, on the other hand, can lead to high cholesterol.
  • Vitamin B9: Folate/Folic acid
    • Folate fosters the growth of red blood cells.
    • Some simple sources include red meats, whole grains, citrus fruits, fish, legumes, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin B-12: Cobalamin
    • Cobalamin helps regulate the nervous system and plays a role in the growth and formation of red blood cells.
    • The best sources of Cobalamin can be found in meat & dairy products (vegans likely need B12 supplements).

With a balanced diet, having a sufficient amount of Vitamin B should be easy! However, note that because the B-complex is water soluble, excessive intake of alcohol can inhibit the absorption of the B vitamins.

Categories: Medical

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