B vitamins are essential nutrients that are water-soluble, so they must be replenished every day.
There are eight B vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate [folic acid]), and B12 (cobalamin). “The B vitamins each have different functions in your body and for your health,” says Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD. “They help with nervous system function by coating the nerve cells so that they can function properly. They help you use energy from food. Some of them help you absorb other vitamins. They help you with digestion and muscle tone. They make red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout your bloodstream to your organs.” Here’s what happens when you take B vitamins every day, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
B9 [folate] is very important for a healthy pregnancy. “The Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that all women of childbearing age take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily,” says Dr. Sutherby. “During pregnancy, you need 600 to 1,000 micrograms of folic acid daily. Folate is essential for the healthy development of a baby’s brain and spinal column. Getting enough of this vitamin before and during your pregnancy helps prevent certain types of birth abnormalities.”
Thiamin is instrumental in converting energy for the body from nutrients. “Like other B-complex vitamins, thiamine is sometimes called an ‘anti-stress’ vitamin because it may strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions,” says Mount Sinai Health. “It is named B1 because it was the first B vitamin discovered. Thiamine is found in both plants and animals and plays a crucial role in certain metabolic reactions. Your body needs it to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy.”
B12 is important for nerve function, brain function, and more. “Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is naturally found in animal foods. It can also be added to foods or supplements. Vitamin B12 is needed to form red blood cells and DNA. It is also a key player in the function and development of brain and nerve cells,” according to the Harvard TH Chan of Public Health.
B7 [Biotin] is important for a healthy metabolism. “Many systems benefit from biotin including the skin, nerves, digestive tract, metabolism and cells,” says Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “Biotin is needed for the formation of fatty acids and glucose, which are used as energy in our body.”
B5 [Pantothenic acid] helps convert food into energy. “Pantothenic acid is typically used in combination with other B vitamins in the form of a vitamin B complex formulation,” says Dr. Ross. “Pantothenic acid is used in treating and preventing pantothenic acid deficiency and skin reactions from radiation therapy. Other health benefits of pantothenic acid that have been suggested but not scientifically proven include improve symptoms related to ADHD, arthritis, athletic performance, skin problems, alcoholism, allergies, hair loss, asthma, heart problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, lung disorders, nerve damage, colitis, eye infections, convulsions, kidney disorders, dandruff, depression, diabetic problems, immune function, headaches, hyperactivity, low blood pressure, insomnia, irritability, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and muscle cramps.”
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan