Vitamin B 101: Keeping Your Energy Levels Optimal

You’re probably eating healthy–packing your diets with fresh vegetables, fruits, proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. Most of you are probably aware that you have to reduce stress, exercise, and to always go for a natural approach to health. However, due to poor food quality and depleted soil, our diet doesn’t always give us the same kind of nutrient coverage that we need.

So, what can you do if your diet seems to be full of the right things, but you feel like your energy levels are still suffering? Maybe, you’re lacking in B vitamins. But what are B vitamins and why is it important?

B Vitamins

Vitamin B complex is a group of water-soluble vitamins. They play an important role in cellular metabolism in the body that’s important to maintain the growth of the cells. When fats, carbohydrates, and proteins supply the energy for the body, it’s the vitamin B that helps the body utilize this fuel. So, even if you’re eating healthy and you’re lacking in vitamin B, the nutrients that you consume are not utilized properly. What a waste, right? I bet none of you are trying to eat healthy for nothing!

Vitamin B 101: Keeping Your Energy Levels Optimal

Vitamin B1

Main Function: Converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin. It also aids in mental focus, better brain function, and nerve health.

This is known as thiamin or thiamine. We can’t produce this vitamin on our own, so the only means to get it is by getting it through our diet. Good sources of vitamin B1 include whole grains, seaweed, sunflower seeds, and black beans.

Vitamin B2

Main Function: Converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin. It also aids in mental focus, better brain function, and nerve health.

Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is an important part of two major coenzymes in the body. Some microbes living in the large intestine can produce riboflavin, which can be absorbed and used by our body. If you love your veggies, it’s good to know that they’re richer in riboflavin compared to meats. Other plant-based foods that are rich in vitamin B2 are cereal grasses, whole grains, almonds, sesame seeds, spinach, spirulina, mushrooms, beet greens, quinoa, buckwheat, and prunes.

Vitamin B 101: Keeping Your Energy Levels Optimal

Vitamin B3

Main Function: Converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin. It also aids in mental focus, better brain function, and nerve health.

Vitamin B3 or niacin. Yes, all B complex vitamins are known for their role in energy production. Which is why you need all these B vitamins in order for your body to turn the food that you eat into energy. Not only that, but vitamin B3 is also crucial for digestive, skin and nerve health. Most of the time, the source of vitamin B3 are eggs and fish. But if you’re relying on plant-based food, you can get it from chili powder, spirulina, peanuts, rice bran, mushrooms, barley, durian fruit, potatoes, tomatoes, chia, whole grains, green peas, avocados, and many more.

Vitamin B2

Main Function: Converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin. It also aids in mental focus, better brain function, and nerve health.

Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid has a role in the creation of coenzyme CoA which is important for numerous biological functions. However, I have a good news and bad news for you. The good news is that all whole foods including plant-based and animal-based contain vitamin B5 to some degree. The bad news is that when a food is processed, the amount of B5 decreases by 80%. So, if you’re the type of person who relies on packaged or processed foods, you’re risking yourself with vitamin B deficiency. You may want to opt for scheduling a weekly visit to the farmers market to make sure you’re getting enough B5-rich foods.

Vitamin B 101: Keeping Your Energy Levels Optimal

Vitamin B6

Main Function: Aids in maintaining homeostasis, prevents anxiety by helping tryptophan the amino acid to convert niacin and serotonin for a healthier nerve function. It also helps ensure a healthy sleep cycle, appetite, mood, red blood cell production, and immune system function.

This is also called pyridoxine and is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions. According to the FDA, vitamin B6 is essential if you want to support a healthy vascular system. Of course, only when combined with a well-balanced and heart-healthy diet. Personally, I think this is where you see that not all B complex vitamins are the same. I’m guessing that as you’re reading through all the B’s above, you think that loading your diet with one B vitamins is enough, but that’s not the case. If you need vitamin B6, eat more bananas, watermelon, almonds, sweet potatoes, green peas, avocados, hemp seeds, chia seeds, chickpeas, prunes, wheat germ, figs, pistachios, garlic, peppers, kale, squash, artichokes, and sage.

Vitamin B7

Main Function: Converts food to energy, maintains healthy hair, nails, and skin. It aids in mental focus, better brain function, and nerve health. It also helps reduce blood sugar by synthesizing glucose.

This is commonly known as biotin which is famous for promoting healthier looking skin. Foods that are rich in B7 are sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, almonds, chia, peanuts, onions, oats, tomatoes, walnuts, and carrots.

Vitamin B 101: Keeping Your Energy Levels Optimal

Vitamin B9

Main Function: B9 merges with B12 and Vitamin C in order to utilize proteins that are essential for healthy brain development, healthy red blood cell formation, and essential for pregnant women.

If you’re an expecting mother or a parent, you probably know that B9 or what we usually call folate is a very important vitamin for you to consume. During pregnancy, you need more folate than the usual because it plays an important role in nucleic acid synthesis. You can get folate from spinach, beans, lentils, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, mangoes, oranges, whole grains, basil, peanuts, artichokes, cantaloupe, flax, sesame, walnuts, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, celery, and chestnuts.

If you’re going to look at it carefully, plant-based foods are rich in B complex vitamins. However, as I mentioned earlier, depending on your lifestyle and the quality of food that you’re eating, you can still be prone to deficiencies. Others may even result to using supplements to make sure that they’re getting enough of this vitamin. You’re probably wondering if plant-based foods are rich in B complex vitamins, how can one be deficient? It’s very simple. Your body doesn’t store B complex vitamins for a long time and our body doesn’t produce this too. Not only that, but it is easily depleted because of numerous factors. It’s also good to take note that depending on your age and weight, the amount of B vitamins that you need will also differ. It can be as simple as you’re not eating enough, even though your plate consists of everything healthy.

Vitamin B 101: Keeping Your Energy Levels Optimal

It is also possible that if you have the following disease or illness, you are prone to vitamin B deficiencies:

  • Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
  • Pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
  • Conditions that affect your small intestines, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
  • Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus

If you also consume alcohol and smoke, you are also depleting vitamin B in your body. If you think you have vitamin B deficiencies, it is best to talk to your physician first before taking any supplements. I also recommend eating a balanced diet that’s in healthy proportions. Make sure that you are eating enough for your body and not assuming that as long as you ate– you’re good. Always remember that health is holistic, just like what I always say!

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