Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin (B8) and folic acid probably ring a bell, but which B-vitamin is important for which part of our body? One thing is certain, B-vitamins are real all-rounders. Discover below an overview of their different applications in the body. B-vitamins also work synergistically, together they are stronger!
Fit and energetic
All B vitamins are important for the metabolism so that your body has enough fuel to function optimally throughout the day and to feel fit. They release energy from food by helping to burn carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Each B vitamin has its own specific task. Vitamin B6, for instance, mainly provides energy in the muscles by breaking down glycogen, your personal carbohydrate supply. If you are going to exercise, a banana can help you. It’s packed with vitamin B6, 1 banana contains no less than 40% of your daily requirement.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for the formation of red blood cells, which ensure that your cells have sufficient oxygen. When your tissues don’t have enough oxygen, you can feel tired and lifeless.
Do B vitamins play a role in mental health?
Yes, they do! B vitamins are not only important for your energy level but also for your mental health. B1, B2, B3, B6, biotin (B8) and B12 help maintain the proper functioning of the nervous system. Normal psychological functions such as memory, concentration, learning and reasoning are supported by vitamins B1, B3, B6, biotin (B8), folic acid and B12. Resilience to stress is also optimised with vitamin B5. The latter also plays a role in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, contributing to a relaxed feeling. A shortage of vitamin B5 makes us more susceptible to exhaustion and reduces our mental resistance. Do you have little energy or can you mentally use a little support. Read on to find out which foods are rich in B vitamins or opt for extra support in the form of a B complex vitamin.
B vitamins and nutrition
B vitamins are essential vitamins. This means that we cannot produce them ourselves and only store a small amount, so the body depends on daily intake through food.
Whole grains such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta are good sources of B vitamins (B1, B2, B3). The vitamins are mainly found in the germ and bran of the grain. Refined, white cereal products (hulled rice, white bread, white pasta) have been stripped of both the germ and the bran and therefore contain almost no B vitamins.
Regularly eating animal products such as meat, fish and dairy products is important for getting enough vitamin B12. Vegetable products are in fact no source of it. Vegans and vegetarians may therefore have an extra need for vitamin B12.
In general, the body needs more B vitamins when under stress and foods such as coffee and alcohol also increase this need.
When your body does not get enough B vitamins, deficiencies can occur. A common consequence of a vitamin B deficiency, more specifically vitamin B6 and B12 deficiency, is anaemia that can manifest itself in headaches, fatigue, lethargy or dizziness. Because certain B-vitamins are also important for the skin, nails and hair, a shortage of these can lead to symptoms such as cracks in the skin and inflammation of the skin e.g. around the corners of the mouth.
What should I watch out for with food supplements?
With food supplements, it is important to ensure that the active form of the B vitamins is present in the product. This is because it must not be converted in the body. This is important, because some people do not convert them very well. For example, sodium riboflavin-5′-phosphate is the active form of vitamin B2. Other directly active forms are pyridoxal-5′-phosphate (vitamin B6), calcium L-methylfolate (folic acid) and methylcobalamin (vitamin B12).
Can you take too much vitamin B through a food supplement?
No, the usual doses present in registered vitamin B complex food supplements on the Belgian market are considered safe. Moreover, B-vitamins are water-soluble and a surplus is excreted by the body. Therefore, after taking a B-complex vitamin, it is possible that the urine turns bright yellow. This is completely harmless and nothing to worry about. This is a result of the excretion of any excess of riboflavin (vitamin B2).