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What's the Difference Between the B Vitamins?

Posted on May 09 2017

B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C (whereas vitamins A, D, and E are fat-soluble).

They are grouped together because they usually are found working together in the body. Simply put, B vitamins is a name given to a group of vitamins that help keep your nervous system healthy. The B vitamins have other common names (see below).

In addition to commonly recognized benefits such as nervous system function, many B vitamins help with functions related to your hormones, metabolism, digestive system, and cardiovascular system.

Here are the general differences between the B vitamin numericals and their (perhaps) more common name:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) converts glucose into energy and supports nerve system function. Some of the best sources of Thiamin are legumes, whole grains, and pork.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is partially responsible for energy production and supporting vision and skin health. Some of the best sources of Riboflavin are spinach, broccoli, beef, salmon, eggs, and milk.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) converts carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol into energy. Some of the best sources of Niacin are fish, beef, poultry, and lentils. Some people claim that doses of Niacin help relieve the symptoms of depression.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) metabolizes carbohydrates and produces red blood cells and steroid hormones. Some of the best sources of Pantothenic Acid are organ meats, egg yolks, whole grains, avocados, broccoli, soy beans, brown rice, nuts, and lentils.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) supports immunity, brain function, and protein metabolism. Some of the best sources of Pyridoxine are fish, eggs, bananas, poultry, and cooked spinach.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin) is responsible for energy metabolism and fat synthesis. Some of the best sources of Biotin are yeasts, strawberries, organ meat, soybeans, and cheese.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid or Folate) is responsible for oxygenating of the blood, DNA synthesis, and cell growth. Some of the best sources of Folic Acid are fortified foods, cruciferous vegetables, brewer's yeast, liver, avocados, dates, and beets.

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) is responsible for nerve cell structure, mental ability, and breaking down of fatty acids. Cyanocobalamin actually requires Folic Acid (vitamin B9) to work. Some of the best sources of Cyanocobalamin are milk, eggs, fish, poultry, and beef.

Should I take a vitamin B supplement?

Many people benefit from taking a B vitamin supplement, especially vegans or vegetarians as B vitamins from diet come primarily from animal proteins.

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