Vitamin B is an essential group of nutrients that play a vital role in maintaining good health and well-being. It is composed of eight different vitamins, each with its own unique functions. Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate or “folic acid” (B9) and cobalamin (B12) are the eight vitamins that make up the B complex. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, works as a coenzyme in the synthesis of sugars and amino acids.
It was discovered in the 1890s by Christiaan Eijkman, a Dutch military doctor, while he was trying to find the microbe responsible for beriberi, a disease characterized by numbness of the limbs, difficulty breathing and, eventually, death. He observed that the disease seemed to be related to the consumption of white rice and discovered that its symptoms could be reversed if rice polishes (the bran extracted during rice milling) were added again. Those nail polishes contained vitamin B1. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is a precursor to two enzymatic cofactors required by a family of enzymes called flavoproteins. Vitamin B3, or niacin, is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine phosphate dinucleotide phosphate (NADP), two important cofactors of oxidative phosphorylation, the energy transfer reaction in cells.
Williams discovered vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, in 1933 while researching essential nutrients for yeast. Pantothenic acid is found in meat, vegetables, cereals, eggs, and many other foods. Vitamin B5 is a precursor to coenzyme A, with its role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Vitamin B6 exists in several chemical forms: pyridoxine is the form most commonly found in vitamin B supplements. Pyridoxal 5'-phosphate is the active form of the vitamin, which functions as a coenzyme in the metabolism of amino acids, glucose and lipids.
Vitamin B7, or biotin, is a cofactor in many enzymatic reactions essential to metabolism and is a regulator of gene expression. Vitamin B9 is also known as folic acid. In its metabolically active form, folate, vitamin B9 mediates the transfer of carbon units in the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is needed in the metabolism of several biomolecules, including many carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. A lack of vitamin B12 can cause inflammation of the stomach which can lead to pernicious anemia, a syndrome of vitamin B12 malabsorption.
Most healthy adults easily get an adequate amount of vitamin B12 from food but in older people and people with impaired intestinal absorption vitamin B12 deficiency can occur. People who don't eat animal products may need to get vitamin B-12 from supplements or fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and nutritious yeasts. For people who are pregnant, B vitamins can help control energy levels relieve nausea and reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia. People can develop vitamin B deficiencies if they don't get enough vitamins from their diet or supplements. Some evidence suggests that a complete B vitamin supplement may be a better option even if a person has only one deficiency. Women who take birth control pills or who have previously used birth control pills are also at risk of suffering from a vitamin B6 deficiency so special care must be taken.
Medications such as metformin a diabetes medication and the diuretic furosemide may increase the risk of vitamin B6 deficiency. Vitamin B12 also known as cobalamin or cyanocobalamin is an important nutrient that the body needs to help optimize brain nerve and blood health. Vitamin B12 is available as a quality multivitamin supplement a B-complex supplement and also as an individual supplement. In conclusion, all eight types of vitamin B are essential for life and must be consumed in food sources since they cannot be synthesized in the human body. They are all cofactors of enzymatic reactions provide important catalytic functionality to carry out metabolic processes and have direct impacts on energy levels brain function and cellular metabolism.