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B vitamins

B vitamins are a group of vitamins that are present in similar food types.  The B vitamins assist multiple enzymes in a variety of functions including oxygen transport, as well as energy release from carbohydrates and fats.    This group of 8 vitamins includes B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamin).

Thiamine assists with conversion of carbohydrates into energy.  Riboflavin has an important function in releasing energy in the electron transport chain, the citric acid cycle and beta oxidation of fatty acids.  Niacin has a role in lowering cholesterol levels, and it contributes to maintenance of healthy nerve and skin cells.  Biotin is also important for carbohydrate and protein metabolism, and it assists with production of hormones.  Folate and Cobalamin work together to promote red blood cell formation.  Folate is also required for DNA synthesis and therefore has important roles in maintaining cellular functions.

B vitamins are most commonly found in meat and carbohydrate based foods.  They are most abundant in turkey, tuna and liver foods, as well as legumes, bananas, potatoes, chili peppers and whole grains. B12 vitamin is not often available in vegetarian diet, so these individuals especially may require a B vitamin supplement. Vitamin B complex are dietary supplements which include all eight B vitamins.


National Institute of Health

Harvard School of Public Health

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