B vitamins are a group of essential nutrients that play closely related roles in several essential bodily processes. They are important for many cellular functions, including breaking down carbohydrates and transporting nutrients throughout the body. Even though B vitamins work together in the body, they also have their own unique properties and health benefits.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of B vitamins and the various benefits they offer!
How Many B Vitamins Are There?
There are a total of eight different types of B vitamins:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folic acid)
- B12 (cobalamin)
What Type of B Vitamin Should I Take?
B vitamins are water-soluble, which means that they are dissolved in water and not stored in the fat in your body. As such, it is highly unlikely that someone can consume too many B vitamins, and many people opt to take a B-vitamin complex supplement, or B complex, to obtain all of the B vitamins.
B complex contains the optimum balance of all eight B vitamins. Here’s a brief summary of each B vitamin:
1. B1 (thiamin)
Vitamin B1, or thiamin, is the first B vitamin that scientists discovered, which is why it has the number 1 in its name. It helps maintain proper nerve, heart, and muscle function. B1 is also needed to convert carbohydrates into energy.
Thiamin helps prevent disorders of the nerves, heart, and digestive system. Other conditions that B1 can help include:
- Vision problems like cataracts and glaucoma
- Motion sickness
- A weakened immune system
2. B2 (riboflavin)
Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is needed to maintain tissues, absorb nutrients, and break down food components. You need to consume vitamin B2-rich foods every day, as your body can only store it in small amounts. Some examples of vitamin B2-rich foods include avocados, eggs, almonds, spinach, mushrooms, and salmon.
Like other B vitamins, vitamin B2 helps convert food into fuel. It can also protect your body against oxidative stress and nerve inflammation, which both contribute to migraines.
3. B3 (niacin)
Vitamin B3, or niacin, is an important B vitamin that every part of your body needs to function properly. It can be found naturally in some foods or sold as a supplement. The two main chemical forms it comes in are:
- nicotinic acid
The main role that vitamin B3 plays in the body is synthesizing two coenzymes, NAD and NADP, that are involved in cellular metabolism. Vitamin B3 also acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in cell signaling and repairing DNA.
When taken in supplement form, vitamin B3 can help ease arthritis, lower cholesterol, and improve brain function.
4. B5 (pantothenic acid)
This lesser known B vitamin can be found in small quantities in nearly all foods. It is needed to metabolize proteins and fats, create red blood cells, and develop stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands. Vitamin B5 also promotes skin, hair, and eye health.
Some studies suggest that vitamin B5 can help with facial acne, but more research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.
5. B6 (pyridoxine)
Like other types of B vitamins, vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that can be found naturally in many foods or taken as a dietary supplement. It assists with the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in your body and is important for normal immune function. It is also one of the B vitamins that is most critical for brain health.
Individuals who have kidney diseases or malabsorption syndromes are usually vitamin B6 deficient and require supplementation.
6. B7 (biotin)
Vitamin B7, or biotin, is a coenzyme, meaning it functions as a supporting compound for carboxylase enzymes. These enzymes synthesize fatty acids and amino acids, which help break down food and grow/repair body tissue. They also generate glucose.
Studies have shown that biotin can help with neuropathic pain (nerve pain) and lowering blood glucose. It is also believed to improve nail, hair, and skin health, though more evidence is needed to prove this.
A deficiency in biotin may lead to hair loss and/or skin problems.
7. B9 (folic acid)
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is an essential B vitamin that is needed to transform carbohydrates into energy, produce DNA and RNA, and produce red and white blood cells in bone marrow. It is crucial to have sufficient levels of vitamin B9 during periods of growth, such as during pregnancy and adolescence.
Purported health benefits of vitamin B9 include lowering the risk of stroke and reducing the risk of cognitive decline. It is essential to get an adequate amount of vitamin B9 during pregnancy to lower the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus.
Muscle weakness, fatigue, vision problems, ulcers in the mouth, and issues with memory and understanding are all symptoms of vitamin B9 deficiency.
8. B12 (cobalamin)
Last but certainly not least, vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is required for energy production, DNA synthesis, and nerve function. It is found in many poultry, meat, and fish products. Since plant foods do not contain vitamin B12, people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are prone to a deficiency in this nutrient and oftentimes need supplementation.
A vitamin B12 deficiency may cause anemia, fatigue, intestinal problems, muscle weakness, nerve damage, changes in mood, and/or lower cognitive function. Since vitamin B12 is not well absorbed by our bodies, a sublingual supplement (a supplement that can be dissolved under the tongue to bypass the stomach) or injection may be needed for severe B12 deficiencies.
Evidently, B vitamins play a vital role in maintaining good health, and taking a dietary B complex supplement can be a great way to ensure you are getting enough of these essential nutrients! At Revivele, we’ve long known about the health benefits of B vitamins. We will be releasing our very own line of supplements that contain B complex in the near future, so be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn to find out when our supplement line is released and to expand your health and wellness knowledge!