B-COMPLEX VITAMINS: Your Big “B”

B-vitamins, a group of vital nutrients, are essential for our physical and emotional wellbeing

VegetablesThe most talked about food, at home, are whole grain cereals and green leafy vegetables.

Cereals and green leafy vegetables are a favourite among moms. They love to advice us to have them regularly. In nutritional terms, what your mother emphasises on is a set of eight vitamins, commonly known as B-complex vitamins. These are water soluble vitamins that need to be replenished on a daily basis.

The B-complex vitamins are essential for our mental and emotional wellbeing. They cannot be stored in our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to supply them. B-vitamins are destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine. So, it is no surprise that many people may be deficient in B-vitamins. Some doctors and nutritionists suggest taking B-complex vitamins as a group for overall good health.

Agreed, that, for many of us B-vitamins comprise of fancy names, either on food labels, or on bottles. These are -

  • B1: Thiamine
  • B2: Riboflavin
  • B3: Niacin
  • B5: Pantothenic acid
  • B6: Pyridoxine
  • B7: Biotin
  • B9: Folic acid
  • B12: Cyanocobalamin.

They are the B-vitamins group, and they work best as a team.

"B" MY ENEMY

Foods that interfere with absorption of B-vitamins:

  • Alcohol
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Smoking [nicotine]

"B"ware

  • B-vitamins are easily flushed out of the body, especially in people who are on weight loss diets, oral contraceptives, or antibiotics
  • Preparation practices like draining off excess water while cooking, or cooking at very high temperature, can intensify vitamin loss
  • People who are over-dependant on micro-wave foods can bid goodbye to B-vitamins as micro-wave cooking destroys them
  • Foods that are highly processed and polished like basmati rice, white bread, noodles, pasta, biscuits [made of maida] can lead to loss of vital vitamins
  • People involved in strenuous exercise may have increased demand for B-vitamins in their body
  • B-vitamins [especially, B3] could be beneficial for diabetics on insulin; however, it is important to remember that over-consumption of B-vitamin supplements without professional guidance can cause liver damage
  • People taking biotin for hair loss should avoid taking egg whites and biotin-rich foods in the same meal, as egg whites interfere with their absorption in the body
  • B12 vitamins are exclusively found in animal foods; therefore, pure vegetarians should remember that they may need B12 supplements
  • Folic acid [vitamin B9] is an essential nutrient for healthy pregnancy. Women planning for a baby should incorporate folic acid-rich foods in their diet, three months before pregnancy. During pregnancy, folic acid-rich foods must be combined with good food sources of vitamin B12 and vitamin C [amla, guava, lemon, orange, sweet lime, sprouts, capsicum, drumstick, parsley, and cabbage] to improve their absorption in the body.

It would, of course, be ideal to achieve optimal health through fresh, naturally healthy foods, including vitamins. However, with increased pollution levels, and use of chemicals and preservatives, coupled with our stressful lifestyles, it is imperative for us to increase our vitamin requirements, through appropriate supplements.

Speak to your therapist/nutritionist for optimal and safe vitamin intake and supplemental dosages.

"B" important

Vitamins "B"enefits What happens when you lack them
B1: Thiamine
  • Metabolises [burns] the food we eat to produce energy
  • Boosts your brain function [good for people with Alzheimer's disease]
  • Improves digestion
  • Maintains normal muscle tone.
Fatigue, forgetfulness, heart changes, loss of appetite and numbness in legs.
B2: Ribolfavin
  • Metabolism of food in the body
  • Useful for cataract
  • Eases migraine headaches
  • Increases iron levels in people
  • Eliminates dandruff
Cracks and sores at the corner of mouth, redness in the eye, burning sensation, and hair loss.
B3: Niacin
  • Nature's relaxant
  • Healthy skin
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Lowers cholestrol
  • Memory enhancer
  • Good for digestion
Memory loss, depression, diarrhoea, and insomnia
B5: Pantothenic acid
  • Anti-stress vitamin
  • Good for people with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Stamina-enhancer
  • Involved in certain hormonal secretions
Nausea, fatigue, and tingling sensation in hands and feet.
B6: Pyridoxine
  • Good for young women who suffer from water retention
  • Improves brain function
  • Prevents blockage of arteries
  • Prevents kidney stone formation
Anaemia, sore tongue, cracking of lips, and hyper-irritability.
B7: Biotin
  • Healthy skin and hair
  • Relieves muscle pain
  • Strengthens finger nails
  • Good for diabetics.
Depression, baldness, and increased blood sugar.
B9: Folic acid
  • Also called brain food; boosts your immunity
  • Forms blood cells
  • Extremely important during pregnancy; prevents birth defects in offspring.
Red tongue, anaemia, and abnormal graying of hair.
B12: Cyanocobalamin
  • Improves iron utilisation in hallucinations, mood swings, and anaemia.
  • Good for digestion
  • Protects your nerves
Depression, constipation.

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Payal Ahuja
Payal Ahuja is a Mumbai-based dietician and consultant. She conducts workshops on lifestyle management and weight management programmes on TV. Ahuja is also IPC-certified auditor for ISO-9001:2000, and author of the book, Combating Childhood Obesity.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I need suppler of brewers yeast with best quality as nutritional supplement in delhi.
    Where can i purchase it in delhi.
    Is this safe for constipation?

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