Actually the word vitamin B is a misnomer because there isn’t a single vitamin B. There are eight “B’s” and each is slightly different.
According to Wikipedia, “The B vitamins are eight water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Historically, the B vitamins were once thought to be a single vitamin, referred to as vitamin B (much as people refer to vitamin C or vitamin D). Later research showed that they are chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods.
Supplements containing all eight are generally referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific name of each vitamin (e.g. B1, B2, B3 etc.).
How the vitamin B complex works
HowStuffWorks.com does a good job of explaining B vitamins. They take a look at how the B vitamins work so you can begin to understand why Kellogg’s cereals and your mother made sure you included these essential vitamins in your diet. We’ll also look at some of the more serious conditions that can result from B vitamin deficiencies.
The word vitamin is derived from a combination of words — vital amine — and was conceived by Polish chemist Casimir Funk in 1912. Funk isolated vitamin B1, or thiamine, from rice. This was determined to be one of the vitamins that prevented beriberi, a deficiency disease marked by inflammatory or degenerative changes of the nerves, digestive system and heart.
If you read What are vitamins and how do they work?, you know that vitamins are organic (carbon containing) molecules that mainly function as catalysts for reactions within the body. A catalyst is a substance that allows a chemical reaction to occur using less energy and less time than it would take under normal conditions. If these catalysts are missing, as in a vitamin deficiency, normal body functions can break down and render a person susceptible to disease.
The B-complex vitamins (as explained by HowStuffWorks.com are actually a group of eight vitamins, which include:
- thiamine (B1)
- riboflavin (B2)
- niacin (B3)
- pantothenic acid (B5)
- pyridoxine (B6)
- cyanocobalamin (B12)
- folic acid
B vitamin sources
B vitamins are found in all whole, unprocessed foods. Processing, as with sugar and white flour, tends to significantly reduce B vitamin content
According to Wikipedia, “B vitamins are particularly concentrated in meat and meat products such as liver, turkey, and tuna. Other good sources for B vitamins are potatoes, bananas, lentils, chile peppers, tempeh, beans, nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast, and molasses. Marmite and Vegemite bill themselves as “one of the world’s richest known sources of vitamin B”.
The B12 vitamin is of note because it is not available from plant products, making B12 deficiency a concern for vegans. Manufacturers of plant-based foods will sometimes report B12 content, leading to confusion about what sources yield B12.
The confusion arises because the standard US Pharmacopeia (USP) method for measuring the B12 content does not measure the B12 directly. Instead, it measures a bacterial response to the food. Chemical variants of the B12 vitamin found in plant sources are active for bacteria, but cannot be used by the human body. This same phenomenon can cause significant over-reporting of B12 content in other types of foods as well.
Women should consume 400 mcg a day, the amount that protects fretuses. Men, not much more. Because of Uncle Sam’s concern about protecting future babies, a number of commercial food companies started supplementing this B vitamin. Now it’s all around us, slipped into the cereal we eat for breakfast, the bread we eat for lunch, etc. Watch out for consuming too much.
You can get enough from fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if your daily diet doesn’t include 6-8 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, you can still give your body the form of folate it prefers most. HS Fighters Active B Vitamins™ are made with BioActive Folate™ (an ingredient so unique, it’s patented) — the naturally occurring active form of folate you get every time you eat green leafy vegetables. Understanding the difference between Folic Acid and Bioactive Folate is important, so you can follow this thread at hsfighters.
Sources: Wikipedia and HowThingsWork.com
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