The roles of B vitamins in a healthy diet are varied. B vitamins are essential for everything from giving you energy to making your eyes, skin and hair healthy. Let’s look at the specifics of what B vitamins do for you and your best B vitamin resources.
Common B vitamins
B vitamins are classified as coenzymes. This means that B vitamins combine with protein to speed up chemical reactions to create energy for the body to work. The following list shows the eight B vitamins and their alternate names.
- Vitamin B1-thiamine
- Vitamin B2-riboflavin
- Vitamin B3-niacin
- Vitamin B5-pantothenic acid
- Vitamin B6-pyridoxine
- Vitamin B7-biotin
- Vitamin B9-folic acid
- Vitamin B12-cyanacobalamin
Vitamin B1’s main job is to help the rest of the B vitamins work together to provide energy for your body. It also is important to nerve and muscle health.
Vitamin B2 is essential for healthy eyes, hair and skin. It also works to convert your food into energy. Studies have found that vitamin B2 is required to keep your homocysteine or amino acid level steady. Homocysteine levels that are too high are linked to increased risks of heart disease because of clogged arteries.
Vitamin B3 helps your digestive and nervous systems work properly. Niacin has also been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
Vitamin B5 is necessary for a healthy immune system.
Vitamin B6 helps your body keep your amino acid levels even. Elevated homocysteine or amino acids levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Vitamin B7 helps change your food into energy.
Vitamin B9 helps keep your homocysteine levels steady. Therefore, it has been linked to helping to prevent some types of cancer.
Vitamin B12 helps your body make blood cells and prevent anemia.
- Wholegrain breads
- Cooked beef liver
- Cooked spinach
- Wheat Bran
- Dried beans and peas
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Green leafy vegetables
- Brown rice
- Sweet corn
- Whole grain cereals
The Food and Drug Administration recommends daily consumption of the following amounts of each B vitamin.
Vitamin B1: Men 1 mg. Women 0.8 mg.
Vitamin B2: Men 1.3 mg. Women 1.1 mg.
Vitamin B3: Men 16mg. Women 14 mg.
Vitamin B5 does not have a recommended daily amount because it is needed in such a small amount that healthy eating gives you enough.
Vitamin B6: Men 2.0 mg. Women 1.6 mg.
Vitamin B7 has no recommended amount because it is rare to have too little in your system.
Vitamin B9: Men 200 micrograms. Women 180 micrograms; 400 micrograms when pregnant; 280 micrograms when breastfeeding
Vitamin B12: Men and Women 2.4 micrograms
Taking individual vitamin B supplements is also an option. However, caution should be taken when utilizing supplements. Many of these supplements list the percentage of daily recommended values as high as 200 percent. It is possible to get too much of even something as good for you as B vitamins.
Doctors and nutritionists maintain that the safest way to get your B vitamins is to eat a healthy diet. Using the above source list for B vitamins can help you do that. Good luck and good eating.