B vitamins play a critical role in helping you stay energized and balanced throughout your day. But they also are vital in cell metabolism, healthy skin and hair, relieving stress, promoting mental clarity and focus, hormone balance, and immunity.
Vitamin B deficiencies can result in many problems, including irritability, confusion, brain fog, anemia, fatigue, dry skin, mouth cracks, bruising, numbness and tingling, and chronic disease.
In this article, we’re going to take you through the importance of each B vitamin and share how you can increase levels for ultimate wellness.
B Vitamins for Energy, Hormone Support, and Brain Function
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in keeping you sharp and ready to learn. It is crucial for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system and is critical for normal nerve function and nerve signaling.
When our bodies are deficient in B12 (the most common B vitamin deficiency), we are more vulnerable to emotional and physical stress, resulting in increased aging. We may feel tired, depleted, depressed, have a poor memory, or inability to retain new knowledge.
B vitamins, and B12 in particular, reduce levels of homocysteine, the amino acid linked to brain shrinkage and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. This is why getting B12 in through food and supplementation is crucial.
Since B12 is primarily found in meat and dairy products, and because our bodies do not naturally produce B12 on their own, strict vegetarians and vegans can be at higher risk for deficiency. Keeping B12 levels high through foods and supplements will help with energy levels, memory, mental clarity, focus, and emotional strength.
It’s important to note that B12 comes in various forms, and some are more effective than others. Methylcobalamin is the most effective form, while cyanocobalamin is the least effective as it is not as well absorbed and the cheapest to produce. Unfortunately, B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin is found in most supplements on the market.
When looking for a B12 supplement, it’s important to make sure you’re getting B12 in the form of methylcobalamin. This form of B12 has a positive impact on mood and promotes the free flow of neurotransmitters.
When formulating our Hydration Superfood Energy powder, we made sure to include B12 in the form of methylcobalamin.
Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 cellular reactions throughout the body and affects both our mental and physical health. Proper B6 levels promote a healthy flow of bile, fat, and toxins to and from the liver.
B6 also activates countless enzymes and helps with B12 and other B vitamin absorption, enhancing the effects of each vitamin.
As for its role in hormone function, B6 binds to estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, detoxifying excess amounts of hormones and reducing the risk of hormonal imbalances and diseases.
When we are deficient in B6, we can experience bloating, water retention, low energy, headaches, nausea, and poor mood. Ensuring we get an adequate amount of B6 via diet or supplementation is critical in keeping various bodily functions operating smoothly.
While B vitamins are water-soluble and eliminated in the urine, side effects from large doses are very uncommon. The exception to this is B6. Too high doses of B6 over a long period of time may result in neurological problems. That’s why we say to take an adequate amount, enough that it can help increase the absorption and assimilation of the other critical B vitamins.
Look for B6 in whole, non-citrus fruits, poultry, peanuts, and more.
Vitamin B9, also known as folate, is a powerful weapon against irritability, depression, and brain fog. It works to repair DNA, promote healthy detoxification, and has anti-aging benefits. As you may know, it is an essential vitamin for pregnant women because deficiency may cause congenital neurological disabilities.
An important thing to remember is that folate and folic acid are not the same. Folic acid is a synthetic version of B6 and used in a lot of supplements and processed foods. Folic acid attaches itself to folate receptors, which block natural folate from whole foods from doing its work.
When it comes to hormone function, folate can lower an adrenal hormone associated with increased blood pressure. It also has mood-enhancing properties and works synergistically with serotonin (our happy hormone) production.
When we have low levels of folate, our homocysteine levels may be high—which can be toxic and inflammatory. Low levels of B9 are also associated with depression and anxiety, red, sore tongue, anemia, apathy, digestive issues, insomnia, memory problems, and fatigue.
To increase B9 levels in your body, opt for dark leafy greens, asparagus, cantaloupes, beans, citrus fruits, and bananas.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is crucial for energy production. It activities Phase 1 detoxification where foreign substances and toxins are broken down for excretion. Thiamine also helps to metabolize glucose, which can help curb carb cravings.
When we are balanced in B1, we experience clarity, natural energy, and composure. If we are deficient in B1, we experience a lack of energy, brain fog, and carb cravings. Drinking lots of alcohol, caffeine, or taking oral contraceptives may result in reduced thiamine levels.
To up your intake of B1, include lots of whole vegetables, minutes, seeds, legumes, and seaweed in your diet.
Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is necessary for essential fatty acid metabolism, which helps increase energy production in nerve cells and brain function. It is also involved in proper thyroid function, which is crucial for balanced hormones and mood.
B2 also helps to alleviate eye fatigue and prevent cataracts. If you are deficient in B2, your eyes may tire quickly. You also may have a hard time digesting foods, detoxing toxins, and struggle with mouth cracks and sores.
To increase B2 levels, look for green leafy vegetables, legumes, wild-caught fish, and cage-free poultry.
B3 or niacin stimulates phase 1 detoxification and is critical for proper circulation, healthy nervous system function, and glowing skin.
B3 breaks down fats, carbohydrates, protein, and hydrochloric acid and lowers LDL cholesterol while regulating blood sugar levels.
It is also involved in bile production, which is important for detoxification and estrogen metabolism.
A fascinating fact about B3 is that it affects serotonin levels because the body uses tryptophan (precursor to serotonin production) to produce niacin. Because of this, it is believed that B3 has antidepressant and mood-elevating effects.
When it comes to hormone health, niacin impacts the adrenals by promoting the release of growth hormone.
To keep your hormones in balance, your nervous system functioning correctly, and your blood circulating, make sure you are getting enough niacin. Up your intake with liver, sesame seeds, brown rice, barley, almonds, seaweed, and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, supports phases 1 and 2 of detoxification and helps to eliminate inflammatory substances.
It also plays a key role in adrenal hormone production and is critical for coping with mental and physical stressors. Estrogen and progesterone are only produced when there is enough B5 in the system.
Pantothenic acid also helps produce neurotransmitters, enhance stamina, and inhibit fatigue, headaches, nausea, and tingling.
If you feel depleted or experience any of the above symptoms, increase your intake of B5 through avocado, mushrooms, banana, collard greens, broccoli, lentils, and eggs.
Where Can I get more B Vitamins?
Although we mentioned some specific foods under each vitamin, food is an important part to hit on again.
B vitamins are mostly found in meats like liver, turkey, and tuna. Plant sources include legumes, potatoes, bananas, tempeh, molasses, and whole grains. You can optimize B vitamin intake by getting them through fermented foods as gut bacteria can help synthesize vitamins. Good options include kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir.
B Vitamin Supplements
Fresh, whole foods that we consume now are not nearly as nutritious as when our grandparents were our age. This is largely because of industrial agriculture and soil depletion. Because of this fact, turning to supplements is a good idea.
When looking for a B vitamin supplement, specifically folate but also b6, and B12 make sure that it is methylated folate. This means that your body can more easily absorb and assimilate it. B6, B9, and B12 all regulate hormone metabolism which can be extremely helpful for during a woman’s cycle or during menopause.
Supplementing with B vitamins can be incredible for energy and hormone support, as we’ve learned. Our line of supplements contains the top B vitamins for these exact reasons.