Role of Vitamin B in Good Nutrition
Each B vitamin has its own individual properties and its own unique biological role to
play. As a group, these nutrients have so much in common that they are often thought
of as a single entity.
B vitamins help the body use energy and are necessary
for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
B vitamins are utilized as coenzymes – components of
enzymes – which speed up biological and chemical reactions in the body.
The B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic
acid, and biotin help mediate the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats and
Vitamin B-6 assists enzymes that metabolize amino
Folate and vitamin B-12 help cells to multiply, a
function that is particularly important to cells with a short life span and that
are replaced rapidly, such as red blood cells and the cells lining the
Whole grains* (wheat, oats, and rye), liver, green leafy vegetables, meats, poultry,
fish, eggs, nuts and beans.
*Most of the B vitamins are removed when the grains are highly refined and processed.
Check with your local market for the recommended daily intake of vitamin B.
Each of the B vitamins has different safety and usage factors:
Vitamin B1 – Easily destroyed by alcohol consumption,
caffeine, stress, and smoking. Pregnant women may benefit from slightly higher levels
Vitamin B2 – Absorption or availability is decreased
by the use of oral contraceptives, as well as by regular exercise and alcohol
consumption. Vegetarians and the elderly may benefit from slightly higher levels of
Nicotinic acid (niacin) – People who exercise regularly,
take oral contraceptives, or have a lot of stress in their lives may need slightly
Vitamin B6 – Pregnant or breastfeeding/lactating women,
those who use contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, and those who use
antibiotics regularly may need slightly higher levels. B6 supplementation is also
suggested for those who consume alcohol, smoke, and consume protein above recommended
Folic acid – Elderly people and pregnant women may need
higher levels, as well as people who consume alcohol or have risk factors associated
with heart disease.
Vitamin B12 – Strict vegetarians and vegans, along with
pregnant and/or lactating women, and those who consume alcohol or smoke may need increased
Biotin – Pregnant women and those who use antibiotics
on a long-term basis may need increased levels.
Pantothenic acid – Elderly people and those who take
oral contraceptives, as well as those who smoke, or consume alcohol or caffeine may
need slightly higher levels.