You’ve probably heard of vitamin B; it’s one of the most popular vitamins, with hundreds of supplements and foods touting its health benefits. But did you know what vitamin B is and does? Read on to learn more about this crucial nutrient.
Vitamin B Basics
Vitamin B is an abbreviation for the more colloquial term ‘B Vitamin’ due to the multitude of vitamins originally classified as vitamin B. These include B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxal), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folic Acid), and B12 (Cobalamin). Together, they are sometimes referred to as the ‘B-complex vitamins’ or the ‘B vitamins’.
Vitamin B is crucial for human health, since it prevents deficiency diseases. These include night blindness, anemia, and damage to the heart and liver. But aside from preventing these deficiency diseases, vitamin B does a lot more! As mentioned above, vitamin B is a member of the B vitamin family, which also includes vitamins B2 and B3. This family of vitamins functions similarly, but not exactly the same as vitamin C. Instead of preventing disease, the B vitamins help maintain a healthy metabolism and enhance energy levels. They also keep the immune system strong, protect the skin from damage, and promote reproduction. All of these benefits make vitamin B a vitamin you should always have in your diet.
Vitamin B’s Roles
Although vitamin B assists in a variety of functions, it primarily serves as a component of many of these nutrients’ co-factors or enzymes. These are proteins that assist in chemical reactions inside the human body. Enzymes are important, as they speed up reactions that would otherwise take place more slowly. For example, vitamin C assists in the synthesis of L-Ascorbic Acid, which is a nutrient important for the health of the skin and bones. But without the help of an enzyme called L-Ascorbic Acid Hydrolase, L-Ascorbic Acid would not be able to perform it’s function in a timely manner. In a similar fashion, vitamin B is necessary for the function of many enzymes responsible for the chemical processes inside the body, including those involved in the creation of energy and the synthesis of DNA.
Some examples of the roles vitamin B plays include:
- Helping the body break down proteins and fats
- Producing new cells from precursors
- Maintaining healthy nerves
- Producing blood
- Protecting the human skin
- Assisting in the body’s primary defense against illness and infection
- Playing a role in hormone balance
- Maintaining healthy bones
- Relieving depression
- Participating in the regulation of body temperature
- Nourishing the human heart
- Fulfilling a vital role in the synthesis of certain fatty acids
- Participating in protein synthesis
- Activating vitamin C
Why Is Vitamin B Important?
Although the evidence is conflicting, it appears that vitamin B may assist the human body in losing weight. A study conducted in 2016 examined the effects of vitamin B on body weight in humans. Researchers randomly assigned obese participants to receive either a placebo or a vitamin B supplement for 12 weeks. At the end of this time, those who received vitamin B exhibited significant reductions in their body mass index (BMI) and abdominal fat, while those who received the placebo remained the same. The authors of the study concluded that their results “suggest that [vitamin B] intake may be a useful strategy in the fight against obesity.” While this study suggests that vitamin B may help with weight loss in humans, evidence from other clinical trials is lacking. This makes it difficult to know for sure. However, the existing research does point to vitamin B as a potentially effective weight loss supplement.
Which Form Should You Take?
The best way to obtain nutrients is through food, so you will get the most from your food sources. But if you are seeking a supplement to help with weight loss, it’s important to select one that is both reliable and affordable. Fortunately for you, we have compiled a list of the top vitamin B supplements available today.
We will discuss the various forms of vitamin B supplements below, along with their advantages and disadvantages. Be sure to refer to the table at the end of this article for more information on each type of vitamin B supplement. Keep in mind that the prices for these items vary widely, so check with your local health store or website for the best prices before committing.
Vitamin B As Capsules
Often referred to as ‘vitamin B Complex,’ these capsules contain a combination of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. Like most vitamin B supplements, vitamin B as capsules is available in a broad spectrum of different doses, from 100 mg to 1,000 mg. As with all vitamin B products, vitamin B as capsules is digested more quickly and efficiently than your average food, giving you a greater chance of achieving better results. When it comes to weight loss, the efficiency gained from digesting food faster is often more valuable than the actual food that you consume. Since all of the vitamins in these capsules are quickly and efficiently absorbed, there is also a greater chance that you will receive the nutrients your body needs, without experiencing any negative side effects. Some people may experience an initial burst of energy when taking these types of supplements, which is due to the vitamin B’s ability to enhance energy levels. However, this burst of energy usually wears off as the body adjusts to the increased vitamin B intake. In general, taking vitamin B as capsules is a good choice for individuals seeking a weight loss supplement.
Vitamin B As Tablets
Thanks to the development of new pharmaceutical technologies, there are now a wide variety of convenient, potent tablets available for weight loss. These options range from a basic vitamin B tablet to a multi-vitamin with fish oil. While these tablets are often more convenient for patients who need to take their supplements on the go, the benefits of taking vitamins B and other supplements on a daily basis are often greater than those provided by tablets. As with most other weight loss supplements, taking vitamins B as tablets also provides you with a greater chance of seeing positive results, since the nutrient is more available for the body to use. Some people may also benefit from the additional fiber that is found in many vitamin B supplements, helping to lower cholesterol and keep the digestive system healthy. Due to their enhanced bioavailability and effectiveness, taking vitamins B as tablets is often the preferred option for individuals seeking a weight loss supplement.
One of the biggest differences between the two above options and other common forms of vitamins B supplements is how these products are absorbed by the body. Since they are generally taken sublingually (under the tongue), tablets are more easily and completely absorbed than capsules. This enhanced bioavailability makes tablets a popular choice among athletes, bodybuilders, and other people who need to raise their energy levels quickly. Due to their enhanced bioavailability, these types of supplements often have a quicker onset of action, meaning they can help the body break down nutrients and toxins faster than ordinary versions. However, many individuals experience a negative side effect known as ‘cheese phenomenon’ when taking certain types of vitamin B tablets. Sometimes the intense acidity of the stomach causes some of the vitamins to be damaged or destroyed before they can be absorbed, leading to negative side effects. To reduce these risks, individuals who want to take vitamins B should consult with a pharmacist or doctor before starting any dietary supplements.
Vitamin B As Powder
Sometimes it’s not desirable to take a tablet or a capsule, but rather to absorb nutrients slowly through the digestive system. For these people, liquid nutritional supplements are often the preferred option. Since these are liquids, they more easily travel through the digestive system, allowing the body to absorb more nutrients than when the same amount of nutrients is taken in solid form. While powders are often more convenient for individuals seeking an easy way to take their supplements, liquid nutritional supplements offer a better chance of obtaining the nutrients your body needs, without having to break down food particles first.