Vitamins are diverse organic compounds that are essential for optimal functioning of the body, maintenance of health and protection from diseases. They themselves do not provide energy, although some vitamins are important for energy production. They need to be obtained from the foods we eat on a daily basis since the body cannot synthesize them. The body requires them in very minute amounts like milligrams or micrograms but their deficiency can impair normal body functions and affect health.
Vitamins are classified according to their solubility in water. There are nine different water soluble Vitamins, which include vitamin C and our eight B vitamins. The B vitamin group is thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, Folate, Biotin and Pantothenic acid. And four fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K.
Importance of B vitamins and good sources
The B vitamins are important for the process the body must go through to convert the food we eat and absorb into energy. All the body cells have the ability to turn our food into energy, that’s how we move and do daily chores, B vitamins are an important part of that process. B vitamins are found mostly in vegetables. They also found in animal foods such as meat and dairy especially vitamin B 12 rich foods.
B1: Thiamine is important for our nervous system, heart muscles and regulates appetite. Thiamine is found in most food items but in relatively small amounts. Yeast and pork are concentrated sources. Nuts like groundnuts, sesame seeds, cashew, sunflower seeds, spinach, peas, rajma or kidney beans, lettuce, mushrooms and tomato are excellent sources.
B2: Riboflavin plays a role in mucus membrane and skin. It also participates in drug and toxin metabolism in the liver. Skimmed milk powder, whey water, walnuts, almonds, radish leaves, beet greens and eggs are excellent sources.
B3: Niacin assists in DNA repair, facilitates cellular signaling and helps to control cholesterol levels. Eggs, fish, poultry, meat liver, cheese, groundnuts, peanut butter, lima beans and green leafy vegetables are good sources.
B5: Pantothenic acid assists in drug metabolism, synthesises cholesterol, steroid hormones and neurotransmitters. Whole grains, vegetables, sweet potato, mushrooms, cauliflower, egg yolk, fish, chicken and beef are rich sources.
B6: Pyridoxine supports nervous and immune system function and is responsible for maintaining homocysteine levels. Banana, potato, sweet potato, organ meats, fish, milk, chickpeas and eggs are good sources.
B7: Biotin assists in DNA replication and assists in improving the health of hair. Green leafy vegetables, whole grains, walnuts, almonds, onion, tomato and carrots are good sources.
B9: Folic acid, besides turning food into energy, reduces the risk of brain and spinal cord damage during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It ensures proper cell division and red blood cell formation. Beans, citrus fruits, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, beet, cauliflower, lettuce and asparagus are good sources.
B12: Cobalamin is involved in DNA synthesis, formation of healthy red blood cells and helps to form neurotransmitters. Vitamin B 12 rich foods sources are liver, meat, seafood, egg, milk, and cheese.
While these may seem like a lot, you don’t have to do anything additional beyond eating a healthy, balanced diet to get enough of these vitamins. It is also a good idea to confer with your healthcare provider from time to time to understand your requirements and consider supplements if necessary.
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