B is for blocks, as in building blocks. If there’s one way to understand the functionality of B-vitamins within our bodies, that just about sums it up. If you think of your body as a machine whose job it is to ensure that all of those moving parts function properly, then it needs to be supported in doing that.
How does it work? Let’s open up the Body Operators Manual, shall we? Okay, there really isn’t a manual per se, but we know through eons of medical and biological exploration that in order to support the body, it needs those B building blocks to thrive. So it’s all about providing the fuel it needs.
We give our body fuel in the form of food, and then it works its magic to process that food in a way that allows us to function day to day. In order for all of our organs to do their thing, they need individual attention. And that’s where the B vitamin family comes into play.
What Do B Vitamins Do?
All B vitamins help the body convert food in the form of carbohydrates into fuel, which is transformed into glucose. That glucose is then used to produce energy. B Vitamins are water-soluble, so your body doesn’t store them. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting the recommended amount on a daily basis either through food sources and/or supplements.
What are the Symptoms of a Vitamin B Deficiency?
The symptoms you might experience from Vitamin B deficiency depend on which of the 8 B vitamins you’re deficient in. This means that symptoms will vary widely, and you’ll want to consult a medical professional who can pinpoint which supplements are recommended.
These are a few of the general symptoms that might prompt a call to your medical professional:
- skin rashes
- cracks around the mouth
- scaly skin on the lips
- swollen tongue
- irritability or depression
- abdominal cramps
- numbness or tingling in the feet and hands
Can I Get Vitamin B Naturally?
Nutrition is the first place you want to look if you’re wondering about your levels of vitamin B and whether you might be getting enough. Ensuring that your nutrition plan contains plenty of foods rich in B vitamins is important for your overall health.
Vitamin B12, for example, is often found to be low in vegetarians and vegans because it’s primarily found in animal food sources. This is one reason many convenience foods have added it in their production. The main sources of B12 are meat (especially beef liver), fish, clams, poultry, and eggs. It’s also found in milk, cheese, and fortified foods like cereals and flour.
Those who don’t eat animal products can supplement with other food sources that naturally contain vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast, plant-based milk, nori seaweed, and shitake mushrooms are all excellent vegan sources of vitamin B12.
A range of other B vitamins can be found in a well-rounded diet based on whole foods. Reach for plenty of these healthy options on your next trip to the grocery store:
- dark green vegetables (spinach and kale)
- whole grains and cereals
- beans (kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas)
- nuts and seeds
- citrus fruits
- soy products (tofu, soy milk and tempeh)
What Supplements Are Best for a Vitamin B Deficiency?
The first thing to know about supplementing vitamin B is that it’s a family of vitamins. They work best when taken together, which is why you’ll see and hear supplements often referred to as a B-Complex.
“B - Complex is a term used to indicate that a supplement contains several different B vitamins. There is no industry standard for including all eight vitamins, and products may have different doses. Our supplement was designed to have the right B vitamins in the correct quantity to support the immune system.” -Dr. Richard Harris
B-Complex is composed of 8 key vitamins, and they all have a unique job to do. The singular efforts of each member of the family help the whole machine work more efficiently and effectively. So now, let’s break down the great 8 and talk about what roles they play within our bodies.
Breaking it Down: B-Complex Vitamins and Their Roles
These are the 8 essential B vitamins that make up a B-Complex:
- Vitamin B1: This is in the form of Thiamin and helps your body’s cells convert carbohydrates into energy in the form of glucose. It’s also important for neurological function & cardiovascular function.
- Vitamin B2: Also known as Riboflavin, its role is to help your body maintain energy supply by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Then, it stores that energy within your muscles to be used as needed throughout the day. B2 is also involved with enzymes related to antioxidant generation, detoxification, iron metabolism, and nervous system function.
- Vitamin B3: Also known as Niacin, Vitamin B3, naturally, has 3 roles to play in the body: it helps convert food into energy, it repairs damaged cells, and it acts as an antioxidant. Niacin is a major component of the coenzymes NAD and NADP. These play a critical role in your cellular metabolism, giving your cells the ability to respond to internal chemical reactions and external environmental changes. It’s also important for lipid metabolism.
- Vitamin B5: Another crucial component of a healthy functioning body, Pantothenic Acid does it all. Panto means “all” in Latin, so even the name hints at its level of importance. B5 helps produce energy by breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It also promotes healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver function, and the function of adrenal glands, which is important for controlling anxiety levels and normal brain functions.
- Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine helps maintain your metabolism and promotes the creation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters. Its benefits include helping to improve mood and the promotion of brain and eye health. It’s an effective treatment for nausea during pregnancy, and it aids in the prevention of anemia. B6 has also been shown to potentially reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Vitamin B7: Derived from the ancient Greek word “biotos”, meaning “life” or “sustenance”, Biotin is also sometimes referred to as Vitamin H. It helps the body convert food into energy and helps keep our skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy.
- Vitamin B9: Folic Acid helps the body produce healthy red blood cells, and it helps with tissue growth and cell function. As a supplement, it’s particularly important for pregnant women, helping to form the neural tube of the fetus thus, preventing birth defects. Modern processed foods such as pasta and cereals often contain added folic acid, helping to prevent deficiencies within the population.
- Vitamin B12: Another healthy red blood cell producer, Cyanocobalamin helps improve mood, supports heart health, and aids in energy production. Vitamin B12 is also known to support bone health, as well as healthy hair, skin, nails, and nerves. It’s a popular supplement often found in beauty aisles.
How Can I Boost Vitamin B Quickly?
Boosting vitamin levels within your body requires a long-term approach. If you’ve ever been on a weight loss plan, you know the drill. Results don’t happen overnight, and real change requires swapping out bad habits for better ones.
“Changes in the body happen slowly as we have to change gene expression and make new proteins and other building blocks to accommodate our new lifestyle. I always say it takes at least 30 days for your body to get with the program and 90 days to know the full effect of any lifestyle change.” -Dr. Richard Harris
But, there is good news. You don’t have to wait to start living a healthier lifestyle. You can make two changes right now that will help your body become better balanced and healthier in the long run:
- Nutrition: The first change starts with what’s in your fridge, your pantry, and eventually, which of those end up on your plate. Incorporate more whole foods that naturally contain B vitamins and your body will thank you.
Here are some ideas for healthy meals:
- Beet Hummus
- Butternut Squash Soup- Hint: Keep the skin on because it contains lots of B vitamins like vitamins B1, B3, B6, and B9
- Mussels in White Wine
- Blackened Salmon with Garlic Kale
- Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup
- Apple Spinach Salad
- Beef and Broccoli
- Supplements: In addition to a healthy diet, B-Complex supplements are an excellent way to give your body the healthy boost it needs! When shopping for supplements, be sure to look for physician-trusted, non-GMO blends that are made with clean, high-quality ingredients.
For a science-backed solution for boosting your B’s in only 10 days, look no further than our Immunity 10-Day Power Pack. Not only does it provide a quick boost of effective B-Complex vitamins, but it also contains some of our favorite immunity superheroes:
- L-Lysine: For collagen + elastin support, proper cardiovascular function and a healthy immune system
- Zinc: For allergy + virus resistance, hormone production, muscle strength and fertility
- Vitamin C: For overall skin, bone and joint health
- Vitamin D3: For calcium absorption, immune function and reduced cold + flu recovery times
- Detox Blend: For healthy liver tissue, lung function and cellular health
- Recharge Blend: For energy and metabolic function support
When it comes to how we feel on a daily basis, it’s important to look at how we’re treating our bodies and what we’re eating. If we’re trying to run off of food fuel that doesn’t contain the B-besties we need to run properly, then we’re likely to feel the effects. Paying attention to your nutrition and supplementing with physician-approved vitamins and minerals will go a long way towards improving how you feel day to day and over time. Remember, a happy, healthy body is one that’s being fueled, fed, and supplemented properly!