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A closer look at what it takes to B healthy: Vitamin B

March 12th, 2013

As many of you have probably noticed, there are many numbers associated with B vitamins, but what do all the variations mean? Are they all essential to your daily life?

Vitamins are named by similar functions rather than similar structures. All the B vitamins are associated with the enzyme process, but each fulfills a specific purpose. Enzymes break down your food and nutrients to give your body the energy it needs to function properly, helping your body stay healthy. By definition vitamins are, “various organic substances that are essential in minute quantities to the nutrition of most animals and some plants” (Webster), so yes, they are all essential!

When it comes to B vitamin numbers, you might be more familiar with their full names: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid or folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). Below is a short description of B vitamin benefits and B vitamin rich food sources. Considering vitamins are so vital to your body’s daily functions, supplements may be helpful to ensure no vitamin deficiencies.

Thiamine (B1) helps your body produce energy from carbohydrates and is central in RNA and DNA production. Sources: cereal, liver, kidney, potatoes, whole grains

Riboflavin (B2) is involved in energy production and catabolism of fatty acids. Sources: leafy green vegetables, whole grains, dairy products

Niacin (B3) helps with energy production from glucose and may also be a key component in the health of your skin, nervous and digestive system. Sources: liver, fish, red meat

Pantothenic acid (B5) helps in normal growth and development considering it helps synthesize Coenzyme A. Sources: plant and animal sources

Pyridoxine (B6) and Cobalamin (B12) are included in most vitamin B supplements. They are both involved in red blood cell production and aiding the nervous system. Sources (B6): wheat germ, bananas, liver, pork; Sources (B12): animal products, soy and rice milk, cereal

Biotin (B7) helps metabolize proteins and lipids. Sources: peanuts, egg yolks, watermelon, bananas, mushrooms

Folic acid (B9) or folate is critical in DNA production. Sources: citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, chicken

Hope this helps give you a little better idea about B vitamins!

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