Vitamins and minerals are two extremely important nutrients your body needs on a daily basis in order to stay healthy and function at optimal levels. You’re probably familiar with Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B, but did you know there are eight types of Vitamin B that your body needs daily?

This collection of eight B vitamins (known as the “B-complex”) work together to strengthen your immune system, help cells grow, regulate your metabolism, and manage the function of your nervous system (and more). B vitamins are used to treat various illnesses and conditions like tinnitus, sciatica, stress, diabetes, and even fatigue.

Here are the eight B vitamins that make up the B-complex:

Vitamin B1 – Thiamine. The body cannot make this form of Vitamin B on its own so it must be obtained from foods like oatmeal, flax, asparagus, potatoes, kale, and eggs. Thiamine plays an important role in creating acetylcholine and GABA.

Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin. This form of Vitamin B activates folic acid (Vitamin B9) and can be found in eggs, organ meats, nuts, milk, soybeans (edamame), yeast, Brussels sprouts and leafy greens like kale and chard. This vitamin provides energy for metabolism and helps your body process fats, carbs, and proteins.

Vitamin B3 – Niacin. Niacin is another form of Vitamin B that can be found in organ meats, fish, chicken, eggs, venison, sweet potatoes, avocados, tomatoes, nuts, fungi, carrots, dates, and some whole grains. This vitamin creates energy in the body and helps to repair DNA.

Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid. This is one vitamin that is commonly found in the majority of foods. Due to its presence in nearly all food, the only way to become deficient in this vitamin is to be completely malnourished. This is the vitamin responsible for healing bodily wounds.

Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine. This vitamin can be found in chicken, nuts, fish, beef, seeds, and various vegetables. It is used to create dopamine and serotonin, and works with thiamine (Vitamin B1) to make GABA.

Vitamin B7 – Biotin. Just like Vitamin B5, biotin can be found in almost all foods and it’s produced in good amounts by gut bacteria. Biotin can be found in peanut butter, Swiss chard, and egg yolks.

Vitamin B9- Folic Acid. Whole grains are where you’ll find this vitamin and it works to make, repair, and methylate DNA – a process that ensures cells are replicated properly. For this reason, folic acid is used to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy. Folic acid also plays a role in producing red blood cells.

Vitamin B12 - Cobalamins. This vitamin is found in chlorella, spirulina, nutritional yeast and animal products. This is one of the B vitamins people are most deficient in. Vitamin B12 helps improve brain function, cognitive processes, and improves circulation.

All of these forms of Vitamin B are necessary to keep your body healthy and avoid the problems that come with a deficiency. So how do you get all of these wonderful vitamins if you’re not eating leafy greens and other vegetables around the clock? You have a few options: 

What you don’t want to do is assume that you’re getting all of your B vitamins in your multi-vitamin. In fact, if you’re taking a one-a-day multi-vitamin, you’re probably not getting much benefit from it at all.

The case against multi-vitamins

You might think that taking one multi-vitamin a day is all you need to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs, but think again. The package might tell you to take one capsule per day, but one capsule or tablet isn’t likely to contain enough nutrients to make a difference for your body. It’s physically impossible to condense everything your body needs into one capsule or tablet.

In addition to the impossibility of getting your daily nutrition from one capsule, many multi-vitamins lack adequate amounts of the most important minerals like potassium and magnesium. Some brands might throw in a few milligrams of each, but it’s almost never enough.

Kicking the vitamin habit

Remember that the best source for vitamins and minerals is always food, but if the soil is depleted, as most soil is, you may not be getting the vitamins and minerals you think you are. 

Instead of buying those one-a-day multi-vitamins out of habit, take an active role to get a high quality vitamin. You may find yourself taking a higher quantity of capsules or tablets on a daily basis, but it’s worth it. Getting your required amount of daily B vitamins is one of the best ways to stay healthy and avoid getting sick when something goes around.

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