So there's both good news and bad news regarding B vitamins. The good news is that if your child is eating a lot of meat, dairy, eggs and green leafy vegetables along with broccoli and asparagus you probably can hold off on vitamin B supplements. However if your child is a picky eater or can't seem to stomach those fresh greens then your child is most likely not getting enough B vitamins. Supplementing in this case is highly recommended. If your child is very active and is burning a lot of calories the chances are that the water soluble vitamins need to be replenished. Before you decide to give your child B vitamins we will highlight each B vitamin that makes up the B complex so you will have a better understanding of what role B vitamins play. It may surprise you to know that B vitamins help break down carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice and fruits and vegetables. Metabolizing proteins, converting carbohydates into fat and energy, red blood cell health, hormone synthesis, DNA production and cell growth are just a few of the many functions of B vitamins. B vitamins are water soluble which means they are not stored in the body like fat soluble vitamins. You must get a steady dose of water soluble vitamins since they are depleted more easily.
Here are the basics on B's:
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Healthy muscles and nerves
- Breaks down carbohydrates (such as rice, bread, pasta, fruit and vegetables) to convert to energy
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Red blood cell formation, energy production, growth, digestion, synthesizing vitamin B3, vitamin B6 activation
- Carries oxygen to all parts of our bodies
Vitamin B3 (niacin or niacinamide)
- Converts carbohydrates and fats into energy
- Healthy skin, nervous system function, digestive health
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Metabolizes proteins (meat, fish, eggs etc.) carbohydrates and fats
- Assists in production of red blood cells and certain hormones
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Essential for the healthy functioning of the nervous system
- Required for the synthesis of some brain chemicals including serotonin
- Impacts mental function and mood
Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Metabolizes certain amino acids, cholesterol and some fatty acids
- Assists in healthy hair, skin and nails
Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
- Forms red blood cells
- Critical nutrient during pregnancy for proper development of a baby’s nervous system, cell growth and healthy DNA production
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin)
- Necessary for brain and nervous system function, red blood cell formation and energy production
- Depends on folate to work properly
Which form is better: methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin?
We prefer the form methylcobalamin for a few key reasons. Methylcobalamin the most bio-available form of Vitamin B12 which means it is more easily absorbed by the body. Methylcobalamin has been shown in studies to remain in the body longer than its counterpart giving it a longer time to work its magic.
Your nervous system health requires the form methylcobalamin. It's also found in your liver and brain and assists in vision. Research has confirmed that cyanocobalamin has no impact on vision.
Sleep studies confirm that methylcobalamin plays a positive role in melatonin secretion. It has been demonstrated that those supplementing this form of B12 experience improved quality of sleep and feel more well rested even after less sleep than those not taking this form of B12.
Methylcobalamin has the important role of converting homocysteine to methionine. Not only do high levels of homocysteine contribute to increased risk of heart disease and stroke, unchecked elevated levels of homocysteine also can lead to artery damage. The conversion of homocysteine to methionine leads to the formation of glutathione. Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant the body has to protect its cells from degeneration.
Below are some of the B vitamins we offer at Purely Integrative:
We also offer an array of multivitamin and mineral complexes that contain all of the B vitamins.
The following foods contain B vitamins:
- meat (red meat, chicken/turkey, fish)
- dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- fortified breads, pasta and cereals
- beans, seeds and nuts
- green leafy vegetables, broccoli and asparagus
- fortified orange juice
If you choose the vegan lifestyle making sure you supplement with B12 is very important since meat and dairy are some of the best sources of B12. Our blog Vitamin B12 and Your Body will familiarize you with B12.