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What is Vitamin B Complex?

What is Vitamin B Complex?

We’ve all heard of Vitamin B12 and B6 or Biotin and Folic Acid, but have you heard the term B Complex?

Put simply, vitamin B complex is the umbrella term for all the B vitamins. There are 9 B vitamins in total, each with their own functions and purposes. They are not even chemically related but are often found in the same food sources.

Vitamin B1 (aka thiamine) was the first to be discovered, after chemists noted that a particular food item helped rid animals and people of a disease called beriberi.

Once thiamine had been discovered, the work on vitamins began. Research into finding new vitamins and their disease-preventing properties was carried out by chemists in the early part of the 20th century.

What makes up Vitamin B Complex?

Vitamin B Complex is comprised of 8 individual nutrients.

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folic acid)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

All the B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that they pass through the body rather than fat-soluble vitamins which can build up. This means you need to reach the recommended intake of B vitamins every single day to maintain a healthy level. Many of the B vitamins can be found in the same food sources, as previously mentioned, but some are more difficult to find than others – especially on limited diets.

Each B vitamin is vital for various bodily functions, and although they do sometimes overlap in function, it’s important to reach the minimum intake of each one.

B1 (thiamine)

The first discovered B vitamin helps with the breakdown of food, and its sugars and amino acids, into energy, which can then be used by the body for other functions. Because of this Thiamine can be contributed to normal energy-yielding metabolism, normal functioning of the nervous system, normal psychological function and to the normal function of the heart.

A chronic deficiency is the aforementioned disease beriberi, with symptoms such as delirium, memory loss, confusion and hallucinations.

Thiamine can be found in foods such as grain-based or yeast-based products, especially any wholegrain products like cereals and breads.

B2 (riboflavin)

Riboflavin plays a big role in your bodies energy product, by helping to convert food into energy.  It also acts as an antioxidant, by contributing to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Deficiencies of Riboflavin are very rare and often only associated with severe malnutrition, but in those rare cases symptoms seen are skin inflammation, particularly around the lips and the mouth, plus light sensitivity and anaemia.

The richest sources of Riboflavin in foods are organ meats, beef, mushrooms, spinach and almonds.

B3 (niacin)

Vitamin B3 comes in 2 forms: Niacin and Nicotinamide. Niacin is the most common form - it's the one we use in our TEA+ Energy blend. This Vitamin plays a key role in energy production (metabolism), breaking down macronutrients from food. Thus it aids in energy production, reducing tiredness and fatigue and maintaining normal psychological function.

Similarly to Riboflavin, a deficiency in Niacin can lead to inflammation problems however it is also very rare.

You can find Niacin in foods such as fish, chicken, lentils, avocados, leafy vegetables and dates.

B5 (pantothenic acid)

Like many of the other B vitamins, Pantothenic acid plays an important role in your body converting food into energy. It's also involved in the production of cholesterol and hormones throughout the body.

The prefix ‘pan’ meaning ‘everything’ is not accidental here, as pantothenic acid is found in nearly every food item, which could perhaps be because it’s so vital to our bodies survival. Because of this, deficiencies are so very, very rare that the only knowledge we have of them are from small clinical trials that describe similar inflammation issues to the previous two.

B6 (pyridoxine)

Pyridoxine plays a role in the metabolism of amino acids, red cell production and the creation of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.

A deficiency of pyridoxine will show symptoms of inflammation, lack of energy and confusion.

Foods rich in pyridoxine include chickpeas, bananas, salmon, potatoes, pork and beef.

B7 (biotin)

Biotin is essential for the metabolism of carbs and fats, producing the essential fatty acids and breaking down sugars our bodies need. Biotin also contributes to the maintenance of normal hair and skin.

Biotin deficiencies have symptoms such as weak and brittle hair, dry skin, inflammation of the skin. Mild deficiencies are actually quite common of Biotin, due dietary restrictions and lifestyle choices in modern society.

Biotin is found in leafy green vegetables, salmon, liver, nuts and egg yolks.

B9 (folic acid)

Folic acid plays an important role in pregnancy and early childhood. This vitamin gets converted into something called tetrahydrofolic acid, which helps a lot of cellular functions, but also with the synthesis of acids needed for rapid cell division. Why is that important? During pregnancy and infancy, cell division is happening at an incredible speed which allows babies and children to grow as fast as they do.

A deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy is associated with the risk of neural tube and congenital heart defects, which are major causes of miscarriage and infant fatalities. For those who aren’t pregnant, a folate deficiency can lead to such symptoms as depression, confusion, anaemia and fatigue.

Foods rich in folic acid include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, liver and beans. It is recommended during pregnancy that women also supplement their intake to avoid the aforementioned risks.

B12 (cobalamin)

B12 is a vitamin that’s getting a lot of attention, with the rise of the plant-based diet. We’ve discussed it in more detail before, but essentially B12 is a key vitamin needed proper brain function, DNA production and red blood cell development.

A B12 deficiency can lead to some severe issues, especially neurological problems and pernicious anaemia, and unlike other vitamin B deficiencies, these may not be reversible.

Vitamin B Supplements

We use all 8 of the B Complex vitamins in our TEA+ Energy, with 100% of the recommended daily amount of each individual nutrient filling every mug. If you’re in doubt about your intake of any of the above, or want to reduce symptoms of tiredness and fatigue that may arise from the Vitamin B deficiency then give our TEA+ Energy a try.