Vitamin B Complex – Facilitating Energy Releasing Reactions

The vitamin B complex of vitamins are generally associated with energy, but do vitamins really give you energy? Actually no they don’t because they are not carbohydrates, fats or proteins. So, where did this misconception come from? Well, maybe it comes from the fact that the vitamin B complex facilitates metabolic reactions that allow the release of the energy in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to become fuel for the cells.

It is healthy food choices that actually give you all of the vitamins that you need without supplementation, foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, and lean meats or meat alternatives.

So just what is the B complex of vitamins? These are the water soluble vitamins, which are comprised of eight B vitamins and vitamin C (more about C later). The water soluble vitamins unlike fat soluble vitamins are not allowed to accumulate in the body as excess vitamin, water soluble vitamins are excreted by the kidneys, so the excess is removed, with the exception of vitamin B12 which is also known as cobalamins, which are stored in the liver in large amounts. Therefore, water soluble vitamins such as the B vitamins should be obtained from the diet in small amounts daily.

Water soluble vitamins are also destroyed by some forms of cooking, especially those that prolong cooking times, so to retain the nutrients in these vitamins the best forms of cooking are steaming, stir-frying and microwaving with a minimal amount of water, since water soluble vitamins can be leached or removed from vegetables during cooking, these vitamins are what are known as hydrophilic or water loving, so since you want your vitamins to stay in the cooked vegetables and not end up in the water that they are cooked, use of a small amount of water during cooking is best.

Actions of the B Vitamins

What are the actions of the B vitamins? These vitamins act as what are called coenzymes or as parts of coenzymes. What are coenzymes? These are compounds that make it possible for specific enzymes to function. What are enzymes? These are large proteins that speed up the rate of chemical reactions in the cells but that are not changed in the process.

All of the B vitamins have a role in helping the body to obtain energy from the other nutrients that are eaten, these being carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Vitamin Enrichment of Foods

Sadly the processing of many foods by milling to remove the bran and germ to make such products as white flour, white rice refined cornmeal, flour for pasta and most breakfast cereals also removes vitamins such as B, E, and minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc. Therefore, it is now government mandated that these products have vitamins added back through a process called enrichment. A prolonged consumption of foods with their natural B vitamins removed can result in such deficiency diseases as pellagra and beriberi.

The government also mandates that some products be fortified by adding additional vitamins and minerals. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to get our vitamins and minerals from non-processed foods, since although these foods may be enriched or fortified they may still lack some of the other micronutrients ( those that are required in small amounts in the diet), so it is recommended that whole grain products such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal be eaten as part of the diet.

What Is The Vitamin B Complex?

There are eight vitamins that make up this the vitamin B complex of vitamins, some known only by their numbers such as vitamin 6 and vitamin B12, but others are known only by their names. The complete list of vitamins in the vitamin B complex are:

Formula Representing Vitamin B Complex

Formula Representing B Complex

B1 Thiamine
B2 Riboflavin
B3 Niacin
B5 Pantothenic Acid
B6 Pyridoxine
B7 Biotin
B9 Folic Acid
B12 Cobalamins

For more information about Vitamin B Complex click on the link to

For other information on nutrition, and vitamins in particular some great references are:

• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein

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