There is no single B vitamin, but rather there are eight water soluble vitamins, each of which plays an important role in the cell metabolism process, making up what is known as the B-Complex vitamin. While the B vitamins were once believed to be just a single vitamin, research has showed that these are eight chemically distinct vitamins that can coexist in the same foods, but that can also be found separately in other whole food sources as well. While these eight vitamins can be combined in a supplement known as the vitamin B complex, individual B vitamin supplements are also available. Each of the Vitamin B vitamins is differentiated by a number, and also has its own unique name.
Vitamin B1 – Vitamin B1 is also referred to as Thiamine, and is a water soluble vitamin that is essential for healthy neural function, and metabolism of carbohydrates. The result of a thiamin deficiency in most cases is Beriberi, which is a disease of the nerves and the heart. Less severe deficiencies may result in weight loss, confusion, irritability and malaise. Vitamin B1 can be found in small dosages in many whole food sources including peas, asparagus, cauliflower, yeast, brown rice, oranges, pork, eggs and potatoes.
Vitamin B2 – Vitamin B2 is also referred to as Riboflavin, and is an easily absorbed vitamin that plays a key rule in maintaining overall health. Vitamin B2 is required for many cellular processes within the body including the metabolism of energy, fats, carbohydrates, proteins and ketone bodies. Popular sources for Vitamin B2 include milk, cheese, liver, legumes, yeast, almonds, rock lobsters and soybeans. Riboflavin is easily destroyed by exposure to light, making it difficult to obtain this vitamin through whole food sources.
Vitamin B3 – Vitamin B3 is also referred to as Niacin, and is an organic compound that is a derivative of pyridine and plays an essential role in the metabolic process of living cells. Vitamin B3 or Niacin is especially important in relation to the detoxification of xenochemicals, along with the repair of DNA and the production of steroid hormones within the adrenal gland. Vitamin B3 can be found in numerous whole food sources, including animal products like fish, salmon, milk and eggs, fruits and vegetables such as carrots, dates, avocados and broccoli, seeds, nuts and whole grain products and some fungi, including brewer’s yeast and mushrooms.
Vitamin B5 – Vitamin B5 is also referred to as Pantothenic Acid, and is a water soluble vitamin that is an essential nutrient to sustain life. Vitamin B5 is critical when it comes to the synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Vitamin B5 can be found in a wide variety of different whole food sources, which is where it derives its name which is from the Greek word “pantothen” for “from everywhere”. Pantothenic Acid, or Vitamin B5 can be found in high amounts in whole grain cereals, eggs, meat, royal jelly and legumes.
Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is also referred to as Pyridoxine, although there are two other compounds that are commonly referred to as Vitamin B6; Pyridoxal and Pyridoxamine. Vitamin B6 is best known for its ability to balance the sodium and potassium in the body, and it also promotes the production of red blood cells. The most popular source for Pyridoxine is dragon fruit, which comes from South East Asia.
Vitamin B7 – Vitamin B7 is also referred to as Vitamin H or Biotin, and is a water soluble vitamin that plays a role in the metabolism of leucine and fatty acids, and in the process of gluconeogenesis. Biotin can be found in a myriad of different whole food sources, though normally in low concentrations. Royal jelly and brewer’s yeast are the greatest sources for Vitamin B7, though this vitamin is also found in oilseed meals, dried yeasts, alfalfa, milk, liver, egg and some vegetables as well.
Vitamin B9 – Vitamin B9 is also referred to as Vitamin M, Vitamin B-c or Folic Acid, and is most known as sourcing from green leafy vegetables which is where this vitamin gets its name. Folic acid, or Folate, can be found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuces and turnip greens, and also in dried beans, fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, peas, and some other fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is also referred to as Cobalamin, and is vital in the normal functioning of the nervous system and the brain, and also the normal formation of the blood in the body. Vitamin B-12 plays a part in the metabolism of the cells in the body, including their regulation and synthesis, as well as the synthesis and energy production of fatty acids as well. The natural, whole food source of Vitamin B-12 both for humans and animals is other animal products, including meat, eggs and milk products.