Vitamin B is sometimes called the "happy vitamin," and for very good reason. Vitamin B is a dietary powerhouse, boosting energy levels and enhancing performance of nearly every system in the body. Hundreds of delicious and abundant foods are packed full of vitamin B, ready to unleash the raw power in even the most timid consumer.
Benefits of Vitamin B
Vitamin B converts food into energy. These nutrients also help the nervous system function properly, enabling the energized body to move in an efficient and coordinated way.
Vitamin B beefs up the bloodstream, promoting healthy red blood cell production and reducing or eliminating anemia. A diet rich in vitamin B reduces the risk for heart disease or birth defects. Vitamin B helps the body feel robust and ready for action. It reduces depression and puts a bounce in anyone's step. The vitamin B complex, especially vitamin B6, eases or eliminates the severity of PMS symptoms, helping women stay active every day of the month.
Types of Vitamin B
There are eight nutrients in the vitamin B complex. Each nutrient has a chemical name along with a vitamin B number. For example, thiamine is vitamin B1. The other B vitamins are riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cyanocobalamin (B12).
Vitamin B Deficiencies
Because of the important role vitamin B plays in a person’s overall health, vitamin B deficiency can have a profound effect. An individual might suffer a deficiency of just one B vitamin or a combination of B vitamins. Signs of a deficiency include cracking and fissures at the corners of the mouth, sensitivity to light, sore throat, inflammation of the tongue and flaky or scaly skin.
High Vitamin B Foods
A healthy diet is loaded with vitamin B. Manufacturers supplement whole-grain cereals with vitamin B. Bread, red meat, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, legumes, sweet corn, brown rice, berries and yeast contain vitamin B1. Milk, meat, eggs, cheese and peas are rich in vitamin B2. Eat plenty of protein-rich foods to get the daily requirement for vitamin B3, including meat, fish, milk, brewer’s yeast, eggs, legumes, potatoes and peanuts.
Look for vitamin B5 in meats and legumes. Liver, brown rice, meat, fish, butter, wheat germ and soybeans are packed with vitamin B6. Vitamin B9 is in liver, yeast and green vegetables. Find vitamin B12 in liver, meat, egg yolk, poultry and milk.
Other Sources of Vitamin B
Most people get all the vitamin B complex they need through food, but some individuals require vitamin supplements because they suffer from conditions that prevent them from eating or metabolizing a balanced diet. Vitamin B supplements are available in tablet form without a prescription.
Recently, people have begun injecting vitamin B12 to increase energy levels and improve weight loss. Supporters of this technique assert that vitamin B12 boosts metabolism and energy levels and therefore enhance diet and exercise.
Vitamin B Overdose
Although the body flushes out excess vitamin B through the urine, it is still possible to overdose on vitamin B supplements. Symptoms of overdose vary according to which vitamin B complex has reached toxic levels. In general, symptoms of overdose include:
- Skin Rashes
- Changes in Blood Pressure
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Joint Pain
- Numbness or Tingling
- Mood Swings
- Heart Palpitations
- Muscle Cramps
Consult with a qualified doctor, dietician or nutritionist about the benefits of a high vitamin B diet. Learn how this important nutrient revitalizes a tired body, boosts metabolism and enriches the blood.
Melissa Crossman is a freelance writer who enjoys covering health, wellness, cancer and cancer prevention. She lives in Indianapolis with her two dogs.