Good nutrition is tied to good health, as well as to the prevention and treatment of many conditions. Getting the recommended amounts of vitamins each day is an important part of the nutrition equation, and B vitamins in particular are essential for preventive care. Abundant in green vegetables, whole or fortified grains, dairy, and meats, B vitamins help promote a healthy metabolism and are also linked to a reduced risk of stroke, research shows.
Vitamin B Supplements Are Tied to Lower Stroke Risk
In addition to their role in metabolism and in maintaining healthy skin and hair, B vitamins have been linked to a lower incidence of stroke, a condition in which a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain, or a blood vessel bursts in the brain. A review of randomized clinical trials that lasted 6 months or longer revealed that taking vitamin B supplements lowered risk of stroke by 7 percent for a large group of over 50,000 participants. The study was authored by Xu Yuming and colleagues from Zhengzhow, China and published in the September 2013 issue of the clinical journal, Neurology.
Riboflavin, Vitamin B2, for Energy
A diet rich in vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is needed to avoid riboflavin deficiency. You can get this B vitamin from natural sources such as nuts, green vegetables, meat, and dairy products.
Riboflavin helps your body break down and use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet. This type of B vitamin also functions to keep your skin, lining of the gut, and blood cells healthy. Getting enough riboflavin may be preventive for migraine headaches and cataracts, according to the National Institutes of Health. Riboflavin may also increase energy levels, boost the immune system, and treat acne, muscle cramps, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Benefits of Niacin, or Vitamin B3
We need vitamin B3, also called nicotinic acid or niacin, in our diets every day to break down food we eat into energy we can use. Legumes, nuts, enriched breads, dairy, fish, and lean meats are all good sources of this type of vitamin B.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) for Growth
All people age 14 and older should get 5 mg of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) each day, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. You can find vitamin B5 in vegetables of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and kale, as well as in avocado. In addition, whole-grain cereals, potatoes, dairy, and organ meats are good sources. This type of vitamin B is needed for many of the biochemical reactions that go on in our cells each day, including breaking down carbohydrates and lipids for energy. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, you need vitamin B5 in your diet every day. Pantothenic acid is necessary for our bodies to produce hormones, and it’s also needed for growth.
Vitamin B6 is Essential for Healthy Blood
The recommended daily amount of vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is 1.3 mg for adults up to the age of 50, according to the National Institutes of Health.
You can find this type of vitamin B in potatoes and fruits (except citrus), as well as in poultry, fish, and organ meats.
Getting enough vitamin B6 is important because it’s involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body’s cells. These include helping the body metabolize amino acids from our food, and building new red blood cells. The health benefits of vitamin B6 uncovered by clinical research include reduction in heart disease risk. Although deficiency in this vitamin is rare in the United States, it can lead to anemia and rash, as well as depression and confusion.
Avoid Anemia With Vitamin B12
Adults need only 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12, also called cyanocobalamin, each day. Vitamin B12 is not naturally occurring in plant foods, so vegetarians and vegans might not get enough in their diets and may need to take a B supplement. Natural sources rich in vitamin B12 are dairy products, fish, meat, and — in particular — beef liver and clams. This type of vitamin B can also be found in fortified items like breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast.
Vitamin B12 is essential for building blood cells and maintaining healthy nerve cells in the body. Up to about 15 percent of people in the United States have vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to anemia. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, constipation, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Deficiency is also damaging to the nervous system and can cause depression, confusion, and dementia.