B vitamins are water-soluble ingredients that must be supplied to the body on an ongoing basis. They are distinguished by multidirectional action and are necessary to maintain health, and without them the work of the entire system is disturbed.
B vitamins support the circulatory, nervous and immune systems, as well as participate in energy metabolism and ensure proper growth and development of cells. They are extremely important both in a vegan diet and in an athlete's diet.
What are B vitamins?
Vitamins are a complex group of organic compounds that are essential for the growth and life of organisms. People cannot synthesize the right amount of vitamins on their own, so they must be supplied with food or dietary supplements.
B vitamins are a collection of water-soluble vitamins. The body does not have the ability to store them (except for vitamin B12), which is why they must be constantly supplied to the body with the diet.
Excess ingredients are removed from the body with urine and sweat.
Sources of B vitamins in the diet
B vitamins are commonly found in a variety of foods, both of animal and plant origin. The use of a varied diet should cover the demand for all ingredients in this group.
Thus, natural sources of B vitamins are:
- legume seeds,
- milk and dairy products,
- fruit and vegetables, incl. spinach, bananas, peaches or potatoes,
- meat and offal,
- cereal sprouts.
Properties of B vitamins and their effect on the body
B vitamins are extremely important for the proper functioning of the human body, including they can:
- be responsible for the activation of cellular metabolism,
- take care of the proper functioning of the nervous system,
- support the efficiency of the mind and the proper functioning of the brain,
- increase the body's immune resistance,
- control the proper course of many biochemical processes and participate in metabolic processes,
- relieve states of nervous tension,
- take care of the proper functioning of the heart,
- improve metabolism, well-being and mood.
Each of the vitamins belonging to group B has a slightly different function, but their action often complements each other.
Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, can support the work of the cardiovascular system and have a beneficial effect on the immune system. In addition, it can regulate calcium metabolism and thus participate in the proper development of bones.
Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, can take care of proper vision and alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue. It can support the protection of cells against oxidative stress, as well as positively affect the condition of the skin, hair and nails.
Vitamin B3 (niacin or vitamin PP) can significantly affect the work of the brain and central nervous system. It can participate in the synthesis of sex hormones, as well as cortisol, thyroxine and insulin synthesis. It participates in the formation of red blood cells and can affect the expansion of blood vessels.
Vitamin B4 (choline) forms acetylcholine, the only neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic system. It can be responsible for creating and maintaining the proper structure of cells, as well as for improving digestion.
Vitamin B5, called pantothenic acid, can affect energy metabolism, and to reduce tiredness and fatigue. It plays an important role in the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and steroid hormones. In addition, it can support the immune system and increase the production of bile.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is responsible for muscle contraction (i.a. it can relieve night leg muscle cramps), participates in the regulation of blood pressure and ensures the proper functioning of the immune system. It is a coenzyme necessary for the activation of over 100 enzymes in the human body, it also plays an important role in protein metabolism and facilitates its absorption.
Vitamin B7, or biotin, participates in the metabolism of fatty acids, can regulate the process of glucose metabolism in the liver and facilitate the maintenance of its proper level in the blood. It also contributes to maintaining skin, hair and nails in good condition.
Vitamin B8 (inositol) is defined as a substance that affects insulin sensitivity. In addition, it facilitates regeneration and ensures the proper functioning of the liver.
Vitamin B9, known as folic acid, can counteract anemia, support the nervous and cardiovascular systems.It is necessary for the prevention of neural tube defects in the fetus.
Vitamin B12, called cobalamin, ensures the proper production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Moreover, it participates in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Need for B vitamins
The need for B vitamins depends on age, gender and physiological state. Daily recommended intake varies depending on the specific vitamin.
Among women, the demand for thiamine and riboflavin is 1.1 mg / day, while among men - 1.3 mg / day.
Women should provide vitamin B3 every day to the body in the amount of 14 mg, and the demand among men is 16 mg.
The adequate supply of pantothenic acid oscillates at the level of 5 mg per day, while the demand for biotin is 30 ug, in both genders. Vitamin B12 should be supplied to the body every day in an amount of 2.4ug.
Deficiency of B vitamins
Since B vitamins are widely available in a variety of foods, a deficiency of these nutrients is rare.
Symptoms of deficiencies include:
nervous system disorders,
susceptibility to infections
inflammatory changes of the mucous membranes of the oral cavity.
Only deficiencies of vitamin B12, which occurs only in animal products, are a common phenomenon, occurring especially among people using plant-based diets.
Symptoms of cobalamin deficiency include chronic fatigue, diarrhoea, weakness, lack of appetite, as well as memory impairment. Insufficient supply of B12 may also cause numbness of the limbs, irritability, and also contribute to an increase in homocysteine concentration, which results in an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. In addition, cobalamin deficiency can result in megaloblastic anemia.
Long-term thiamine deficiency may result in a condition known as beriberi disease, which is manifested by lack of appetite, hypertension, weight loss and deterioration of the cardiovascular system.
At the same time, too low supply of niacin in the diet may result in pellagra, a disease that causes dermatitis, diarrhea, nausea, as well as inflammation of the mouth and tongue.
Excess B vitamins
B vitamins belong to water-soluble vitamins, which means that their excess is most often excreted with sweat and urine, and does not contribute to the occurrence of undesirable symptoms.
However, it has been observed that excess choline in the body can lead to a drop in blood pressure, as well as cause diarrhea, muscle tremors and nausea. Too much vitamin B4 is also manifested by increased sweating.
In turn, excessive intake of vitamin B6 in the form of dietary supplements can contribute to an increased feeling of coolness, mood disorders, tingling of the limbs and lack of muscle coordination.
However, these are rare phenomena. Most often, excess substances are simply removed from the body.
Vitamin B supplementation - for whom?
Dietary supplements containing B vitamins should be used by people in states of deficiency and distinguished by increased demand for these ingredients.
Supplementation can be considered during convalescence after illness or also prophylactically - to support the condition of hair, skin and nails, as well as support the work of the immune system.
B vitamins are also extremely important among athletes. Ingredients such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin or pyridoxine participate in energy processes, thanks to which they facilitate the acquisition of energy necessary to undertake physical effort. At the same time, these vitamins reduce the production of lactic acid, which means that they can reduce muscle pain after activity. Large amounts of valuable elements are removed with sweat, which is why the demand for B vitamins among people practicing sports is increased.
Contraindications and side effects
Supplements rich in B vitamins should not be used if you are allergic to any of the ingredients of the preparation. In addition, caution should be exercised by people suffering from kidney failure or hypercalcemia.
B vitamins dissolve in water and are removed from the body quite quickly. Sometimes, however, they can contribute to side effects such as nausea, headaches or diarrhea.
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