Micronutrients: Vitamin B

Micronutrients: Vitamin B

 

The B Vitamins

The final piece in this series of articles based on vitamins, will look at the (water soluble) B vitamins. Many people believe that the b vitamins supply the body with energy, however this not accurate. The majority of the B vitamins ‘help’ the body release energy from the macronutrients that make up the foods we consume. There are a number of different B vitamins:

 

Thiamin / Vitamin B1

Works with the other B vitamins to help break down and release energy from food. It also is needed to keep the nervous system healthy. It is found in most foods including fruit and veg, eggs, wholegrain breads, liver and some fortified cerealsSources of Vitamin B

 

Riboflavin / Vitamin B2

Keeps skin, eyes, and nervous system healthy, also to help the body release energy from food. Sources include milk, eggs, fortified cereals and rice. These foods should be stored in a dark environment as UV light can destroy riboflavin.

 

Niacin / Vitamin B3

Like riboflavin, niacin helps to release energy from food and is required to maintain a healthy nervous system and skin. Good sources of niacin include meat, fish, whole flour, eggs and milk.

 

Pantothenic acid

Helps release energy from the food we eat. This is found in a wide variety of meat and vegetables including chicken, beef, potatoes, porridge eggs, broccoli and wholegrains etc.

 

Vitamin B6Vitamin B6 Sources

Needed for amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, it plays an important role in the synthesis of haemoglobin (carries oxygen in red blood cells) and of various neurotransmitters. It is found in a wide variety of foodstuffs such as pork, poultry, fish, bread, oatmeal, brown rice, eggs and vegetables etc.

 

Biotin / B7

Essential for fat metabolism, this substance is widespread in food and is also released in bacteria located in the bowel.

 

Folic acid

Along with B12 it is needed for healthy red blood cells. It is also needed to reduce risk of nervous system defects in babies. Sources include broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, fortified breakfast cereals. As with all the above vitamins, most people should be able to get the amount they need by consuming a balanced diet.Folic Acid Supplements

 

However if you are pregnant or planning to conceive, it’s recommended that you take a 400-microgram folic acid supplement daily, from the time you cease using contraception up until the 12th week of pregnancy. This is in order to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies.

 

 

Vitamin B12

Again, required for energy release, making red blood cells, maintaining a healthy nervous system and also for processing folic acid. Good sources include meat, salmon, cod, milk, eggs and fortified cereals

 

Deficiency

When the B vitamins are absent, symptoms include nausea, exhaustion, depression, loss of appetite and weight, pain in muscles, cracked skin at the corners of the mouth, severe skin problems and bloodshot eyes.

 

Eating a varied, balanced diet can help prevent (and correct) major deficiencies, while also addressing any subtler impairment.

 

 

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Liam Leech, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

Liam Leech

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

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