The B complex vitamins are a group of water soluble vitamins that include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. These vitamins are required by the body for numerous purposes. One of these important functions is the generation of energy from the food that is consumed and this process requires vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and B5 (pantothenic acid).
Vitamin B1, B2, B12 and B3 are also vital for keeping the nervous system health. To maintain healthy skin, the body requires vitamin B2, B3 and B7(biotin).
Vitamin B6, B12 and B9 are essential for producing healthy red blood cells. The latteris also very important for preventing birth defects in babies.
Foods that are good sources of these B complex vitamins include:
- Wholegrain bread
Foods that have been fortified with these vitamins are other great dietary sources of this nutrient. Examples include cereals and breads.
Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin B
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin B1 (thiamine)is 1000 micrograms (mcg) or 1 mg for men and 800 mcg or 0.8 mg for women.
The RDA for vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is 1300 mcg or 1.3 mg for men and 1100 mcg or 1.8 mg for women.
The RDA for vitamin B3 (niacin) is 17000 mcg or 17 mg for men and 13000 mcg or 13 mg for women.
The RDA for vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is 1400 mcg or 1.4 mg for men and 1200 mcg or 1.2 mg for women.
The RDA for vitamin B9 (folic acid) is 200 mcg or 0.2 mg for both men and women.
The RDA for vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is 2.4mcg for both men and women and 0.4-1.8 mcg for children.
Vitamin B Deficiency
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that around 3.2% of persons over 50 years suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. It also says that another 20% of adults may have borderline deficient B12 levels. As a result of these finding, the CDC recommends that all persons aged 51 years or older should consume foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take supplements.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include a swollen tongue, loss of appetite, constipation and weight loss. Deficiency of this nutrient also causes problems in the nervous system like loss of balance, difficulty walking and tingling sensations in the hands and feet. Depression, hallucinations and paranoia are other symptoms associated with B12 deficiency. Many persons with B12 deficiency also develop anemia which is usually associated with weakness and fatigue.
Vitamin B6 is another B vitamin whose deficiency also causes anemia.
Deficiency of vitamin B9 deficiency is also very important since it causes birth defects of the nervous system like spina bifida in babies.
The B complex vitamins are required by the body to release energy from food and ensure that the nervous system functions normally. Foods that are good sources of these vital vitamins should therefore be consumed every day to prevent their deficiencies.