The B vitamins are a group of individual vitamins, often referred to as the B-complex vitamins. These nutrients critical for all things mind-related: mood, memory, easing stress, even migraines can benefit from the B's. In the right amounts, the B's can quell anxiety, lift depression, ease PMS, and boost your energy. B vitamins are also essential for the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose, which provides energy for the body. They also aid in the breakdown of fats and proteins, which aids the normal functioning of the nervous system. Making sure you get the right amounts of all of B vitamins can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease as well.
These are seven of the B vitamins and how they work to help us stay healthy:
1. Thiamine (B1) - converts sugar to energy to produce energy for the smooth functioning of the body organs, especially the heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys. It also produces acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that relays messages to the muscles and nerves.
2. Riboflavin (B2) - is increasingly prescribed as a preventive against severe migraine attacks. It also acts as an antioxidant that controls the play of free radicals. It helps in the prevention of heart diseases and cancer.
3. Niacinamide (B3) – is needed for DNA repair and helps increase energy. It can help relieve the discomforts of arthritis and asthma. People with diabetes may benefit from taking it, and it is even thought to help prevent the onset of type I diabetes. Another benefits of B3 is reduction of anxiety and depression.
4. Pyridoxine (B6) - works to strengthen our immune system. It helps prevent kidney stone formation and properly process fat and protein. B6 helps prevent nervous and skin disorders, reduces leg cramps, night muscle spasms, hand numbness, some forms of neuritis. Also B6 works as natural diuretic and eases PMS symptoms.
5. Folic Acid (B9) - dramatically reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects such a spinal bifida. Vitamin B9 also lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer.
6. Cyanocobalamin (B12) - is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It helps in cell reproduction and constant renewal of the skin. Vitamin B12 helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Vitamin B12 also protects against heart disease by curbing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against stroke, and high blood pressure. It also protects against cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer.
7. Biotin - intake has been associated with helping to fight and preventing diabetes. Along with helping the body metabolize fats and carbohydrates, biotin has been linked to improved hair health and maintaining proper function of the nervous system.
The B vitamins are a chemically related family of nutrients that work as a team. Their mood-boosting and other health benefits result from intricate behind-the-scenes work in the body. Ensuring that your diet contains plenty of B-rich foods like dark-green vegetables, protein from animal sources, and whole grains, is critical. But if your stress level is high or your mood feels off-kilter, or if your diet is low in B's, you'll benefit from the higher amounts found in supplements.