Vitamin B Importance, Roles in the Body, Types, Benefits, Supplement, Possible Toxicity, Deficiency, Related Health Problems, Food Sources and FAQ
What is Vitamin B?
Vitamin B is a group of water soluble vitamins, which are essential for normal growth and metabolism, but none of these are synthesized by the human body in sufficient quantities.
Common forms of vitamin B include vitamin B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B6 (Pyridoxine) and B12 (Cobalamin).
Importance of Vitamin B intake
Apart from niacin (when given in high dose), there is no evidence that other B vitamins (physiologic or even super-physiological) high doses cause liver injury or jaundice.
The following article discusses the importance of Vitamin B in the human body and other related but important things you must know.
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What Vitamin B does in the Human Body?
B vitamins are important for a healthy growth of body cells. They help transform food to energy, create new blood cells, and maintain healthy skin cells, brain cells, and other body tissues.
There are 8 major forms of vitamin B, which are grouped into one and named as ‘Vitamin B Complex’. Each of these has their own unique functions in the body.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (Folate)
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Major forms of Vitamin B and their Health Importance
- Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is a water-soluble B vitamin found in whole grains, pulses, yeast, beef and pork. The heart, liver, kidneys and brain are all high in thiamine. The approved allowance of thiamine in your diet is 1.2 mg for adult males and 1.1 mg for adult women.
The body needs thiamine for the following functions:
- To break down sugar (carbohydrate) molecules from food.
- To create some neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).
- To make fatty acids.
- To synthesize some hormones.
Symptoms of Thiamine deficiency-
- Weight loss
- Little or no appetite
- Memory problems or confusion
- Heart problems
- Tingling and stiffness in hands and feet
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Poor reflexes
- Vitamin B2
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is a water soluble B vitamin found in milk and dairy products, whole grains, pulses, lean meat and fish. Riboflavin is important in fat, carbohydrates and protein metabolism and is a central component of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), a component of many enzymes required in electron transfer. The recommended allowance of riboflavin is 1.3 mg for adult males and 1.1 mg for women.
Riboflavin is essential for-
- Energy generation
- To break the body fat, medicine and steroid hormones
- Converting tryptophan to Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Converting Vitamin B6 into a coenzyme required by the body
Symptoms caused by deficiency-
- Skin disorders
- Sores in the corner of the mouth
- Swelling of face and neck
- Swollen, cracked lips
- Hair fall
- Red, itching eyes
- Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is a water soluble B vitamin found in many foods; especially in fresh vegetables, milk, meat and eggs. Cereal crops and bread are often protected with niacin. Chemically niacin is called nicotinic acid and its amide is called nicotinamide. The body converts niacin into a coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is a necessary part of more than 400 different enzyme reactions in the body, the highest of all vitamin-produced coenzymes. These enzymes help-
- Transforming the energy of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to a type that the body can use
- Metabolic processes in the cells of the body
- Communication between cells
- Expression of DNA in cells
Symptoms of Niacin deficiency-
- Brown discoloration on skin exposed to sunlight
- Rough patches of Skin
- A bright red tongue
- Vomit, diarrhea, or constipation
- Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) is a water soluble vitamin found in many foods including vegetables, eggs, liver and yeast. Pantothenic acid is an ingredient in coenzyme A and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol metabolism and steroid hormones. The recommended diet allowance of pantothenic acid has not been officially established, but the suggested intake for adults is 5 mg per day.
Symptoms of Pantothenic acid deficiency-
- Stiffness and burning of hands and feet
- Restlessness and lack of sleep
- Lack of appetite
- Vitamin B6
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) is a water soluble B vitamin found in many foods, but at highest concentration in meat, pulses and nuts.
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, plays a role in more than 100 enzyme reactions. The recommended allowance for pyridoxine is 1.3 to 2.0 mg for adults. The body needs vitamin B6 for-
- Amino acids metabolism
- Breaking down carbohydrates and fats
- In brain development
- In Immune functions
Symptoms of Pyridoxine deficiency-
- Scaling on lips
- Crack in the corner of the mouth
- Tongue swelling
- Weak immune system
- Vitamin B7
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) is a water soluble vitamin (formerly known as ‘vitamin H’) and is found in liver, soy, beans and egg yolk. However, the egg whites contain protein avidin which binds to the biotin and reduces its availability. Adequate intake for biotin is estimated to be 30 μg per day. The human body needs biotin for-
- To break down fat, carbohydrates and protein
- Communication between body cells
- Control of DNA
Symptoms of Biotin deficiency-
- Thinning of Hair
- A scaled rash around the eyes, nose and mouth
- Fragile nail
- Vitamin B9
The natural type of vitamin B9 is called ‘folate’. Folic acid, which is found in fortified foods and in some supplements, is a synthetic form of vitamins. It is found in green vegetables, nuts, pulses, eggs, papaya, avocados etc. During and before pregnancy, the sufficient amount of folate in the woman’s body ensures the reduced risk of some congenital disorders affecting the fetus’s brain and spine. Other roles of folate are-
- DNA replication
- Vitamin Metabolism
- Metabolism of amino acids
- Proper cell division
Symptoms of Folate deficiency-
- Tongue or mouth sores
- Skin, hair, or nail changes
- Vitamin B12
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) is a water soluble B vitamin found in dairy products and meat. Cobalmine cannot be synthesized by humans and its presence in meat and eggs is due to its synthesis by microorganisms in the animal’s intestines. The body needs Cobalamin for-
- To create new red blood cells
- DNA synthesis
- In brain and neurological functions
- Fat and protein metabolism
Symptoms of Cobalamin deficiency-
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Stiffness and tingling in hands and feet
- Memory problems
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Effects of Vitamin B Toxicity
- Skin Rashes
Skin rash is one of the common side effects that occur when vitamin B is overdosed. You may notice flushes and welts all over the body and feel itchiness all over your body. The extent of skin rash will depend on how high doses of vitamin B complex you have taken.
- Gastrointestinal Problems
Another common side effect of excessive consumption of vitamin B is gastrointestinal problems or stomach problems. Taking high amounts of vitamin B can make you suffer from indigestion, nausea or mild diarrhea. People with an early history of gastrointestinal problems and older people may suffer from severe abdominal pain and severe diarrhea after taking high doses of vitamin B.
Vitamin B overdose can trigger or worsen the existing problem of insomnia. When the dose of B vitamins exceeds normal body requirements, it can interfere with the normal sleep cycle. High doses of vitamin B complex in the blood especially B1 act as an energy booster. Therefore, sudden increase in energy levels can affect normal sleep cycles and cause insomnia.
- Tingling or Stiffness
In rare cases, people who take high levels of vitamin B for a long period of time may experience excessive stiffness or tingling sensation in the body. In some patients, the tingling sensation is mostly felt on the right side of the body. This symptom is one of the early warning indicators of vitamin B12 being too high in your body.
- Hypertension or Hypotension
Another side effect of too much vitamin B is hypertension or hypotension. When vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, exceeds normal body levels, it can cause high blood pressure or hypertension. Similarly, high levels of vitamin B2, commonly known as riboflavin, can cause low blood pressure or hypotension. Excess of vitamin B complex can cause any one symptom to have a long-term impact on normal functioning of the cardiovascular system.
- Change in mood/Mood swings
Vitamin B overdose not only affects a person physically, it also has a negative impact on mental health. Some of the negative side effects of vitamin B overdose include mood swings, restlessness, depression, and panic attacks. Mood swings may worsen due to high doses of vitamin B complex in people suffering from paranoia, confusion, or mental fogginess.
The above article discusses vitamin B related information and its importance in your body. These data are reliable source based. Approach the doctor for more information and any problems related to vitamin deficiency or toxicity.
Also Read: Vitamin B Importance (Assamese)
Sources: NCBI BOOK
1) What is ‘Niacin’?
A- Niacin a type of vitamin B. Vitamin B is found in 8 forms, one of which is called Niacin (also known as vitamin B3).
2) What happens when the body has too little vitamin B?
A- Vitamin B has many health importance, its deficiency can results fatigue, depression, anemia and even poor immune system. There may also be skin rashes. To treat vitamin B deficiency, your doctor will probably recommend you take supplements or increase your intake of certain foods that contain these vitamins.
3) How does vitamin B12 leave the body?
A- Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin. Water Soluble vitamins are dissolved in water. After the body uses these vitamins, the rest is excreted from the body through urine.
4) What are the laboratory prices for vitamin B12 deficiency?
A- The normal price range for tests related to vitamin B12 deficiency is as follows:
Vitamin B12 test: 200 to 835 pg/ml (picogram/milliliter)
Folic Acid Test: 2.7 – 17.0 NG/Ml (Nanogram/Millilitre).
5) Is there any link between depression and vitamin B12 deficiency?
A- Vitamin B12 along with other B vitamins is extremely important for the production of brain chemicals that are responsible for affecting brain activity with mood. This vitamin deficiency is therefore definitely associated with depression.