The B vitamins are a group of eight individual vitamin ranging from B1 to B12, often referred to as the B-complex vitamins. Each one serves different primary function in the body including strengthening muscle, joints and ligaments, anti-inflammatory properties and nutrient absorption. A major deficiency in any particular b vitamin can cause major problems in your body. They are also critical nutrients for all things mind-related: mood, memory, even migraines can benefit from the B’s. In the right amounts, the B’s can quell anxiety, lift depression and ease PMS.
The B vitamins are important in metabolic activity — meaning they help make energy and set it free when your body needs it. This group of vitamins is also involved in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body. Every part of your body needs oxygen to work properly, so these B vitamins have a really important job.
Here’s a breakdown of the B’s and some of the specific conditions they can be used to prevent and treat:
Thiamine (B1) – Gives brain and general state of mind a boost
Riboflavin (B2) – Shown to reduce migraine headaches
Niacinamide (B3) – Helps increase energy; needed for DNA repair
Pyridoxine (B6) – Needed for neurotransmitters, such as serotonin; may relieve PMS
Pantothenic Acid – Speeds wound healing and reduce cholesterol levels
Folic Acid (B9) – Lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, and birth defects; colon-cancer prevention
Cyanocobalamin (B12) – May improve memory and reverse mental fogginess
Biotin – For healthy hair, skin and nails, combined with chromium can improve blood-sugar control
Choline – Needed for normal brain and memory function
Inositol – Helpful for depression and anxiety attacks
Para-Amino Benzoic Acid (PABA) – One of the few nutrients beneficial in scleroderma, a connective-tissue disease
While it is a good idea to make sure your diet includes plenty of leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard and other foods such as fish, whole grains and legumes to get your B’s naturally, in our fast paced world, supplementation is often needed and recommended. To get the most benefits from any of the B’s, you need all of them, so start with a B-complex supplement that contains all 11. With the right B complex as a foundation, you can add larger amounts of individual B’s depending on your health concerns.