What is...?

What are the B Vitamins?

B Vitamins are a group of 8 vitamins (the B-complex vitamins) which are very important for a healthy metabolism:

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folate)
  • B12 (cobalamin).

“So what exactly is metabolism?” I hear you ask. Great question! Our metabolism is, in a nutshell, all of the chemical processes and reactions that happen within our bodies to turn food into the energy that we need so our bodies can keep doing the things we need to happen to keep us alive.

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The B Vitamins are water soluble vitamins, meaning our body doesn’t store them, so our diet must provide an adequate amount everyday. But don’t rush out and buy a bunch of vitamin supplements just yet!

B Vitamins are found in many different foods – such as meat, dairy, eggs, seafood, leafy greens, beans, avocado, yeast, potatoes – so as long as you are eating a pretty well-rounded diet, you’re likely getting enough B Vitamins each day.

The exceptions are if you are: pregnant/breastfeeding or over 50 years of age. Or if you have certain medical conditions such as kidney disease, coeliac disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, alcoholism, hypothyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, or anorexia. Or if you are vegetarian/vegan

If you tick any of those boxes, you can be at higher risk of B Vitamin deficiencies.

Symptoms of B Vitamin deficiency can include:

  • anaemia
  • confusion, poor memory
  • depression
  • balance problems
  • fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • intestinal problems
  • painful mouth or tongue
  • numbness/tingling in hands/feet
  • weakened immune system (always seem to ‘pick up’ everything going around).

Overdoing it with B Vitamin supplements can cause unpleasant side effects, so if you are at all concerned that you may need to supplement your diet with them, I’d strongly recommend you check in with your doctor first.