What is the Role of Vitamin B in Good Nutrition?

Each Vitamin B has its own individual properties and its own unique biological role to play.

As a group, these nutrients have so much in common that they are often mistakenly thought of as a single entity.

We will look in detail at each specific Vit-B.

What are the Key Functions of B Vitamins?

Who would benefit from B Vitamin supplementation?

How much B Vitamin is usually taken?

When should B Vitamin supplementation be used?

What are the side effects of using B Vitamins?

What are the Side Effects of Vitamin B12?

What are the Benefits of B12-Vitamin?

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What are the Key Functions of Vitamin B?

  • B vitamins help the body use energy,
  • Are necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrate, fats and protein.
  • B vitamins are utilized as coenzymes – components of enzymes – which speed up biological and chemical reactions in the body.
  • The B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin help mediate the release of energy from carbohydrate, fats and protein.
  • Vitamin B6 assists enzymes that metabolize amino acids.
  • Folate and vitamin B12 help cells to multiply, a function that is particularly important to cells with a short life span and that are replaced rapidly, such as red blood cells and the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.

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Who would benefit from Vitamin B supplementation?

B1-Vitamin or thiamine – Easily destroyed by alcohol consumption, caffeine, stress, and smoking. Pregnant women may benefit from slightly higher levels of B1. It helps fight depression and enhances memory and helps promote circulation and blood formation. It is important for fighting beriberi which causes the inflammation and degeneration of the nerves, heart and digestive system.

B2-Vitamin or riboflavin – Absorption or availability is decreased by the use of oral contraceptives, as well as by regular exercise and alcohol consumption. Vegetarians and the elderly may benefit from slightly higher levels of B2. Helps the body process oxygen and helps in the metabolism of carbohydrate, amino and fatty acids.

B3-Vitamin or Nicotinic acid (niacin) – People who exercise regularly, take oral contraceptives, or have a lot of stress in their lives may need slightly higher levels. Helps maintain healthy skin and nerves and is needed for proper food metabolism. Can also be taken as a prescription vitamin to help lower cholesterol levels, although some individuals may suffer from side effects like headaches, cramps, nausea and dilated blood vessels.

B6-Vitamin or pyridoxine – Pregnant or breastfeeding/lactating women, those who use contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, and those who use antibiotics regularly may need slightly higher levels. B6 supplementation is also suggested for those who consume alcohol, smoke, and consume protein above recommended levels. Helps the body produce healthy red blood cell and is a vital ingredient in the metabolism of amino acids, which build protein.

B9-Vitamin or Folic acid – Elderly people and pregnant women may need higher levels, as well as people who consume alcohol or have risk factors associated with heart disease. Folic acid plays a vital role in cell division and helps in the metabolism of protein, which is why it is recommended for pregnant women. It is needed for cell growth and DNA synthesis and in the formation of red blood cells and amino acids. It is essential in the production of heme, a substance in hemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen within the body.

B12-Vitamin or cyanocobalamin – Strict vegetarians and vegans, along with pregnant and/or lactating women, and those who consume alcohol or smoke may need increased levels. Helps in the production of the blood cells and helps maintain healthy nerves. It is also important in the synthesis and repair of our DNA and it processes carbohydrate, fats and protein.

Biotin – Pregnant women and those who use antibiotics on a long-term basis may need increased levels.

B5-Vitamin or Pantothenic acid – Elderly people and those who take oral contraceptives, as well as those who smoke, or consume alcohol or caffeine may need slightly higher levels. Helps enhance the functions of the adrenal gland and maintains healthy skin and muscles. It also helps fight allergies. It is beneficial in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fats and protein.

B-Complex Vitamins - helps maintain the health of nerves, skin, eyes, hair, mouth and healthy muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract. B vitamins are co-enzymes involved in energy production, useful for stress, depression and anxiety. Use as a dietary supplement.

B-Complex vitamins are required for many reactions in the body, especially breakdown of foods into energy. Maintenance of health of all body tissues relies on adequate B-Complex vitamin status.

The B-Complex vitamin refers to all of the known essential water-soluble vitamins except for vitamin C.

B-complex vitamins are really a group of 8 vitamins – B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cyanocobalamin), pantothenic acid and biotin. All of these vitamins are recommended for daily intake to ensure proper balance and health.

They are also easy to absorb because they are water soluble.

“Vitamin B” was once thought to be a single nutrient that existed in extracts of rice, liver, or yeast. Researchers later discovered these extracts contained several vitamins, which were given distinguishing numbers.

Each member of the B-complex has a unique structure and performs unique functions in the human body:

  • B1-, B2-, B3-Vitamins, and biotin participate in different aspects of energy production,
  • B6 vitamin is essential for amino acid metabolism, and
  • B12 vitamin and folic acid facilitate steps required for cell division.

Each of these vitamins has many additional functions. However, contrary to popular belief, no functions require all B-complex vitamins simultaneously.

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How much Vitamin B is usually taken?

Human requirements for members of the B-complex vary considerably—from 3 mcg per day for B12-vitamin to 18 mg per day for B3-vitamin in adult males, for example.

Therefore, taking equal amounts of each one - as provided in many B-complex supplements - makes little sense.

Furthermore, there is little evidence supporting the use of mega doses of B-complex vitamins to combat everyday stress, boost energy, or control food cravings, unless a person has a deficiency of one or more of them.

Again, contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence indicating people should take all B vitamins to avoid an imbalance when one or more individual B vitamin is taken for a specific health condition.

Most multivitamin-mineral products contain the B-complex along with the rest of the essential vitamins and minerals. Since they are more complete than B-complex vitamins alone, multiple vitamin-mineral supplements are recommended to improve overall micro nutrient intake and prevent deficiencies.

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When should Vitamin B supplementation be used?

B1 Vitamin, B2 Vitamin, B3 Vitamin, B5 Vitamin, B6 Vitamin, B9 Vitamin, B12 Vitamin, Biotin

B vitamins has been used in connection with the following conditions:

B1 Vitamin or thiamine

Alzheimer’s disease

Canker sores

Childhood intelligence (for deficiency)


Dialysis (for encephalopathy and neurological damage; take only under medical supervision)


Low back pain (in combination with vitamin B6 and vitamin B12)

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B2-Vitamin or riboflavin

Anemia (if deficient)

Migraine headaches

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B3-Vitamin or Nicotinic acid (niacin)

Acne (topical niacin amide)

High cholesterol

High triglycerides (niacin)

Intermittent claudication (niacin–inositol hexaniacinate)

Osteoarthritis (niacin amide)

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B6-Vitamin or pyridoxine

Anemia (if deficient and for genetic B6-vitamin -responsive anemia)


Depression (in women taking oral contraceptives)

High homocysteine (in combination with folic acid and vitamin B12)

Morning sickness

Premenstrual syndrome

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B9-Vitamin or Folic acid

Birth defects prevention


Gingivitis (periodontal disease) (rinse only)

High homocysteine (in combination with vitamin B6 and vitamin B12)

Pap smear (abnormal) (in women taking oral contraceptives)

Pregnancy and postpartum support

Schizophrenia (for deficiency)

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B12-Vitamin or cyanocobalamin

Age-related cognitive decline (in people with B12 vitamin deficiency)

Anemia (if deficient)

Bell’s palsy

Canker sores (for deficiency only)

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Cystic fibrosis (in people with vitamin B12 deficiency)

Depression (in people with vitamin B12 deficiency)

High homocysteine (combination with folic acid and vitamin B6)

Infertility (male)

Low back pain (in combination with B1 vitamin and B6 vitamin)

Pernicious anemia (B12 Vitamin deficiency)

Sickle cell anemia (for sickle cell patients with B12 deficiency)

Cyanide poisoning

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Brittle nails



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B5-Vitamin or Pantothenic acid

High cholesterol (pantethine)

High triglycerides (pantethine)

Rheumatoid arthritis (pantothenic acid)

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What are the side effects of using Vitamin B?

Vitamin B-complex includes several different components, each of which has the potential to interact with drugs.

It is recommended that you discuss the use of vitamin B-complex and your current medication(s) with your doctor or pharmacist.

Lets look at B12-Vitamin side effects.

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What are the Side Effects of Vitamin B12?

The good news is that B12 vitamin is usually non-toxic, even when taken in large doses.

However, people have experienced some adverse effects, even though these side effects are quite rare.

Generally, when B12 vitamin supplements are taken orally then there is little chance of side effects occurring.

Some people choose to take B12 vitamin administered with an injection. This type of ingestion as been associated with the following side effects:

  • mild diarrhea
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • heart palpitations
  • insomnia
  • breathing problems
  • chest pain
  • skin rash, hives or itchy swollen skin

Some health professionals believe that patients develop these reactions not because of the B12, but because of the preservatives that are part of the injection formula. Currently, most injections contain preservatives.

To be on the safe side, it is probably better to take B12 orally.

B12 should be avoided by people suffering from Leber's disease, a hereditary disease in which the optic nerve wastes away. Taking B12 vitamin can actually speed up the atrophy of the optic nerve resulting in rapid loss of central vision.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women can take vitamin B12 quite confidently when it is taken orally in amounts not exceeding the recommended daily allowance (2.6 mcg/day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg/day if breastfeeding)

More problems than not arise from B12 deficiency than they do from ingestion of the vitamin itself.

However, Vitamin B12 also has some excellent benefits.

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What are the Benefits of Vitamin B12?

This supplement can be taken in liquid form or pill form, or even as an injection which can also lead to a rapid increase in the vitamin's level.

B12-Vitamin helps your bone marrow to make blood. It therefore helps your body to maintain your red blood cell count, thus preventing anemia. Anemia can cause fatigue or poor energy.

B12 Vitamin creates energy, stamina, and vitality to those who take it. For best results or absorption, one should take B12 with other B complex vitamins, such as B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), and B6 (Pyridoxine).

B12 helps to keep the nervous system healthy. Your sense or feeling vibration is facilitated by this vitamin. It also helps to support the body's cognitive (thinking) processes such as memory, mental clarity, and concentration. Furthermore, it helps to support a healthy mood or feeling of well-being (good for depression)

Vitamin B12 applied to the skin (topically) may improve certain skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

It is helpful in protecting an unborn child from developing birth defects such as defects affecting the spine.

It can help in certain cases as an antidote for cyanide poisoning. It complexes with and thus neutralizes cyanide.

It provides support to the immune system and promotes proper functioning.

Elevated homocysteine levels has been associated (not causal) with heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's dementia. Vitamin B12 has been shown to lower homocysteine levels.

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