Natural Medicine Overland Park, KS

You have probably heard the buzz about B vitamins and the supplement advertisements that claim B vitamins provide the body energy. Through all of the advertisements it can be tricky to dig through what is true and what are hyped up statements. B vitamins play an integral role for proper function, growth, and health. However there are a few facts that you should know about B vitamins.

What are B vitamins?

The B-group vitamins are made up of eight water-soluble vitamins, which are essential for a number of metabolic processes. The eight B vitamins are thiamin (B1), riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate (folic acid in supplements), and vitamin B12 (cobalmin). Most of these eight vitamins have to be consumed in a regular diet, because the body is unable to store them. Contrary to popular believe B vitamins do not provide direct energy for the body to use. The body only uses carbohydrates, protein, and fat for fuel. However B vitamins help the body to utilize or get energy from those nutrients. Without B vitamins, the body would be unable to process energy efficiently. Some of the B vitamins also aid in making new DNA and help form red blood cells.

Here is a breakdown of the B vitamins:

  • Thiamin: helps to convert glucose into energy. Found in pork, seeds, yeast, nuts, and wheat germ.
  • Riboflavin: involved in energy production and maintains the health of the skin and vision. Found in milk, yogurt, egg whites, leafy green vegetables, cottage cheese, whole grain breads and cereals.
  • Niacin: essential for converting carbohydrates, fat, and alcohol into energy. Found in fish, poultry, milk, eggs, nuts, mushrooms, and whole grain breads and cereals.
  • Pantothenic acid: needed to produce red blood cells, and metabolize carbohydrates, protein, fats, and alcohol. Found in meats, milk, eggs, yeast, peanuts, legumes, liver and kidneys.
  • Biotin: needed for energy metabolism. Found in cauliflower, egg yolks, chicken, yeast, mushrooms, peanuts, and liver.
  • Vitamin B6: required for the formation of red blood cells as well as protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Found in green leafy vegetables, fish, shellfish, poultry, nuts, liver, fruit, cereal grains, and legumes.
  • Folate: needed to form red blood cells, and aid in the development of the nervous system, cell growth, and DNA synthesis. Found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, poultry, eggs, and citrus fruits.
  • Vitamin B12: works closely with folate, helps to form red blood cells. Only found naturally in animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese, and meat. Fortified B12 products such as grains, and nut beverages are becoming more available.

Food vs. supplement

B vitamins are found in various foods, however they are water-soluble vitamins, which make them a more delicate vitamin group. Alcohol, extensive cooking, and processing destroy these vitamins. White flours, breads, and rice will provide fewer amounts of B vitamins than their whole grain counterparts.  

If you have been tested and diagnosed with a B vitamin deficiency, taking a supplement may be beneficial. A deficiency in B vitamins are linked to several diseases, and a B12 or B6 deficiency may cause anemia. However it is important to note that consuming more than the recommended amount of B vitamins can mask other vitamin deficiencies. Therefore self-diagnosis of a deficiency is not recommended and obtaining a supplement from a reputable source is crucial.

There is no doubt that B vitamins are crucial for proper body function, and for the body to maintain proper energy. If you would like to learn more about B vitamins and if you think you may need a supplement, consider consulting with a doctor of natural medicine Overland Park KS at in2GREAT Integrative Health who can help assess your needs.

Dr Corey Priest, DC - Functional medicine practitioner

About the author

Dr. Corey Priest has been practicing functional medicine since 2001. in2GREAT was founded in 2014 by Dr Priest after 13 years of experience with his other practices. Over his career, Dr. Priest has worked with and helped well over 10,000 patients under a functional medicine model.

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