Vitamin B, what exactly is it?
The discovery of vitamin B1 preceded that of the vitamin B complex. In fact, it was at the beginning of the 20th century that a doctor associated vitamin B1 deficiency with Beriberi. In the past, Beriberi was a very serious disease, widespread in Asia, diagnosed in populations who ate exclusively on husked rice even though the rice cuticle was very rich in vitamin B1. The discovery of other B vitamins continued until 1945.
This vitamin B complex refers to all of the following 8 vitamins: B1 or thiamine, B2 or riboflavin, B3 or niacin, B5 or pantothenic acid, B6 or pyridoxine, B8 or biotin, B9 or folic acid, B12 or cobalamin.
They are all hydrosoluble, or soluble in water. Thus, they cannot be stored and stored by the body and are excreted in the urine. This is why it is essential to provide it every day, particularly through food. A balanced and varied diet is normally able to provide all these vitamins in sufficient quantities. Among the 8, there are 2 exceptions: vitamin B3, which is produced in small quantities by our body and vitamin B12, which can be stored in certain organs.
They are all necessary for the proper functioning of the body and cells but each has its own indication with a different daily need. They are used independently of each other because the combination of all these B vitamins does not have a particular therapeutic indication. They have nevertheless been grouped within the same group of vitamins because they are quite close on a molecular level.
They are found in many foods of animal and plant origin. Products of animal origin are often better equipped with this, and sometimes have a form that is more assimilated by the body than products of plant origin. The form of vitamin B12 assimilated by the body is only found in sources of animal origin. It is therefore essential for vegans to turn to food supplements to avoid deficiencies.
Offal, nuts, seeds and yeast (beer and food) are particularly rich in it. To these foods are also added meat and fish, eggs, dairy products, whole grains, green vegetables (spinach, leeks, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, lamb's lettuce, asparagus, etc.), dried vegetables (lentils, chickpeas, etc.), almonds, fruits (orange, lemon, kiwi, etc.), wheat germ, mushrooms, potatoes, etc.
What roles do these B vitamins play?
This set of vitamins plays an essential role in maintaining our health by acting in particular on the level of the body's cells. It is necessary to have a sufficient intake of B vitamins to stimulate our physical and mental performance and reduce physical and mental fatigue.
As you will no doubt have understood, B vitamins are involved in numerous roles, notably in:
- Energy metabolism: acting as a coenzyme, they help release energy in the body. Indeed, they have a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids and therefore actively participate in the production of energy in the body.
- Cell growth: they ensure cell reproduction and thus promote the healing process.
- Immunity: they also have a role in immunity by contributing to the normal functioning of the immune system.
- The nervous system: they participate in the transmission of nerve impulses and the transport of oxygen in the cells, thus maintaining the balance of the nervous system and stimulating mental performance. Thanks to this, they would help combat mood disorders and prevent the risks of intense fatigue and overwork.
- Muscles: they help us maintain healthy muscles by causing the conversion of glucose into glycogen within our muscle mass.
- Red blood cells: they act on the formation of red blood cells and help fight against certain hematological disorders.
- DNA: they have a role in the synthesis and constitution of genetic material (DNA and RNA).
- Hormones and neurotransmitters: they contribute to the synthesis of sex hormones and the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as neurotransmitters involved in mood (serotonin, melatonin and dopamine)
- Vision: they stimulate the vision mechanism and help maintain good visual capacity.
- The beauty of the skin and hair: they help to maintain perfectly healthy skin and strengthen the hair.
What are the recommended intakes?
As explained above, the majority of B vitamins are neither stored nor synthesized by the body in sufficient quantities. This is why regular consumption is recommended, an adequate intake of B vitamins allowing in particular optimal energy production. Recommended nutritional intakes of B vitamins vary according to age, sex, and type of vitamin. This dosage also depends on your physiological state. In this case, pregnant and breastfeeding women have greater needs than the RDA defined for adults.
Here we present the ANR 1 for adults:
- Vitamin B1 – Men: 1.2 mg/day and Women: 1.1 mg/day
- Vitamin B2 – Men: 1.3 mg/day and Women: 1.1 mg/day
- Vitamin B3 – Men: 16 EN2 and Women: 14 EN2
- Vitamin B5 – Women and Men: 5 mg/day
- Vitamin B6 – Women and Men: 1.3 mg/day then between 1.5 and 1.7 after age 50
- Vitamin B8 – Women and Men: 30µg/day
- Vitamin B9 – Women and Men: 400 EFA3
- Vitamin B12 – Women and Men: 2.4µg/day
1 Recommended nutritional intake
2 Niacin equivalent
3 Dietary folate equivalent
Deficiency or overdose?
Nowadays, the risk of B vitamin deficiency is low and has become rare since a varied and balanced diet is most of the time sufficient to meet the needs for each of them. However, it happens that in certain situations such as poor diet or certain health problems (Crohn's disease, etc.), it does not provide sufficient quantities. In this case, to combat a deficiency, you will have to turn to food supplements to reach the recommended dosage. The main symptoms of a B vitamin deficiency are heart and neurological disorders, inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes, loss of appetite and weight loss, transit problems, fatigue, headaches, nausea. , numbness and tingling, dizziness, mood disorders and depressive states.
It is possible to achieve too high a dosage of B vitamins in certain situations. Although it is very difficult to achieve, it can have adverse health effects. Overconsumption of vitamin B3 can in particular cause flushing (hot flashes), accompanied by stomach aches, itching, migraines and hyperglycemia. Overdoses of vitamins B9 and B6 can respectively cause digestive disorders and nervous system conditions (neuropathy). This is why a maximum dosage has been set for 3 vitamins.
The tolerable maximum intakes for adults are:
- Vitamin B3 – 35 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 100 mg
- Vitamin B9 – 1,000 mcg