Of all of the vitamins that work together, none cooperate more closely than the B vitamins. The B-complex vitamins play a fundamental and far-reaching role in terms of our health. The 8 B-complex vitamins include:
•B1 (thiamine) which helps break down carbohydrates
•B2 (riboflavin) helps break down carbohydrates and fats
•B3 (niacin and niacinamide) work to maintain normal cholesterol levels
•B5 (pantothenic acid) is a potential memory booster
•Biotin helps metabolize carbohydrates and fats
•B6 (pyridoxine) may help calm moods
•B12 (cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin) can promote mental sharpness
•Folic acid helps maintain healthy gene activity
Each B vitamin has a unique structure and performs specific functions in our body. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and biotin are essential for different aspects of energy production and vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are vital in the formation of almost all neurotransmitters. In addition, each of these vitamins has many other functions in the body, although none that require all B-complex vitamins simultaneously. Eating a varied diet is key to providing our bodies with the best combination of these vitamins.
Green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and asparagus contain folic acid, B2 and B5. Whole grains including breads, cereal, or pasta provide you with a number of B vitamins including biotin, folic acid, B2, B3, B5 and B12. Seafood including salmon and tuna offer significant amounts of biotin, B2, B5, B6 and vitamin B12. In addition, poultry contains high amounts of B2, B5, B12. You can also find biotin, B2 and B5 in pork and B2 in beef. Not a meat eater? Legumes like black beans, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans are an excellent source of the B vitamins including folic acid, B3, B5 and B6.