B vitamins are responsible for creating energy from the food you eat. According to recent studies, being even slightly deficient in these vital nutrients can decrease your body’s ability to repair itself after exercising and inhibit energy levels and performance during workouts.
A study from the University of Oregon found that athletes who don’t consume enough B-complex vitamins were more likely to experience greater difficulty building muscle and healing from muscle injuries. Performance levels were also significantly impacted, especially for high-intensity workouts. Common symptoms included headache, dizziness, fatigue and shortness of breath, usually worsened by exercising.
When you exercise, you sweat, compounding your vitamin loss, as perspiration contains vital nutrients. So, if you’re putting in a strenuous workout, you are even more at risk of vitamin B loss. Poor eating habits can also contribute to a lack of B vitamins. If you’re avoiding dairy or eggs to keep your weight down, you are at an increased risk of deficiency.
So, what can you do to avoid vitamin B deficiency? Many of the B vitamins exist in foods such as dark leafy green vegetables. Whole grain breads, eggs, milk, yogurt, whole wheat pasta, fortified cereals, brown rice, liver and beef are also all good sources of many of the B vitamins. If you’re still suffering from vitamin B deficiency, taking a high-quality B supplement can help. It’s important to look for one with a wide range of B vitamins. These are the B vitamins and their functions:
- Thiamin (B1): Helps produce cellular energy from the foods you eat, and is also required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.
- Riboflavin (B2): Helps promote growth and development. It is needed for healthy cellular energy production and also supports antioxidant activity in the body.
- Niacin (B3): Supports over 200 chemical reactions in the body including cellular energy production and fatty acid synthesis. Niacin has important heart health benefits.
- Pantothenic Acid (B5): Helps support fatty acid synthesis and cellular energy production in the body.
- Vitamin B6: Involved in over 100 cellular reactions throughout the body, vitamin B6 keeps bodily functions running at capacity.
- Biotin (B7): Helps support healthy hair, skin and nails. Biotin also encourages healthy carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.
- Folic Acid (B9): Encourages healthy DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells and the metabolism of amino acids. Folic acid is especially critical during fetal development for its role in the formation of the spinal cord and nervous system.
- Vitamin B12: Plays a critical role in the pathways of the body that produce cellular energy. It is also needed for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation and for healthy nervous system function. Vegetarians and vegans are at risk of deficiency since B12 is predominant found in foods with animal origins.