B Vitamins: The Ultimate Guide
Vitamins are one of those things that you tend to either religiously include as part of your healthy lifestyle, or skip altogether, and let’s face it supplementation can be confusing! With so many different options out there it’s hard to determine which vitamins we really need to supplement with, and if we do choose to supplement, how to find clean products.
So, let’s talk B vitamins. Getting enough B’s into your diet is essential for overall health. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of B vitamins you may not be familiar with.
The Not So Commonly Known Benefits of B Vitamins
- While B vitamins are often referred to as a group of vitamins, each of the B’s perform a unique function in your body. This is why it’s important to consume a wide variety of B vitamins. If you do choose to take a supplement, a B complex is a great idea.
- B vitamins work together to keep the body in tip-top condition when it comes to metabolic function, cell growth, and division. They also help the digestive system work properly.
- B vitamins are known for fighting anxiety and depression and can even help combat stress levels.
- These vitamins are essential for keeping your nervous system in top condition.
- B vitamin supplementation has been linked to a reduced risk of stroke.
- This group of powerful vitamins can help combat that mid-afternoon slump.
- Riboflavin, a B vitamin (Vitamin B2) can help your body break down and use carbs, fats, and protein.
- Vitamin B6 has proven to be very helpful for nausea and even nausea during pregnancy. B6 is also very important for blood health as it is involved in nearly 100 different enzyme reactions in our body cells.
- Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy nerve function in the body, and a B12 deficiency can lead to anemia.
So, You Want to Supplement With B Vitamins? What to Look for in a Supplement
With all the wonderful health benefits B vitamins have to offer, you may be interested in adding a supplement to your routine. While supplements can be great, not all vitamins and created equal. In fact, vitamins are a lot like food in the sense that some promote health while others, not so much. Just like food products, vitamins can contain synthetic ingredients, artificial colorings, and lots of fillers. Some vitamins are also not as readily absorbed as others. Here are some things you will want to look for and some things to watch out for when shopping for B vitamins.
What to Look For
- Take a look at the B-12 content. If purchasing a B-complex supplement, check to be sure B-12 is in the form of methyl B12 which absorbs better than other forms of this vitamin.
- Choose a B complex that has a nice balance of all 8 of the B vitamins. Lacking in one can throw off your entire B vitamin balance as they all work together.
- Test how you react to niacin before getting a supplement with more than 100% of your daily recommended value. When niacin, a type of B vitamin, is taken in excess, it can cause a niacin flush or even heart palpitations for some people. Remember that many foods are rich in B vitamins, so you don’t need to go overboard with your supplements. B-12 is a bit of an exception for vegetarians as they will need more than a meat eater would.
- Choose a product that is food basedVS synthetic as it will be more readily absorbed by the body.
- Do not choose a supplement that contains folic acid, a synthetic B vitamin with many side effects. Instead, eat folate-rich foods.
Supplement I Recommend
- Pure B Complex Plus: I like this product because it’s non-synthetic, easy to digest, and has a balance of all 8 B vitamins. The suggested use is also only 1 capsule per day making it easy to get into your diet! It also does not contain any nasty fillers, preservatives, or gluten.
What to Watch Out For
- Before purchasing any supplement, always look at the ingredient label. If it’s packed full of additives and extra ingredients, skip it and go for a more natural option.
- Hydrogenated oils. Surprisingly many supplements contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils which can be detrimental to your health. Don’t let a beautiful looking vitamin label trick you into thinking it’s healthy before reading the label first!
- Check for common allergens. Some supplements contain corn, soy, and even gluten which are very common allergens. Be sure to check the label before you buy.
- Watch out for artificial colorings. Many vitamin companies will add artificial colorings to their product. If you see a food coloring listed, it’s a red flag. Look for something more food-based that isn’t filled with artificial additives and colorings.
What Foods Are Rich in B Vitamins?
While supplementing with B vitamins may seem like an easy way to get these vitamins into your diet, food is much more readily absorbed than any supplement you take. This is not to say that supplements don’t have their place, but food should always come first. To give your body an extra dose of B vitamin power, here are some foods rich in this group of vitamins.
- Dark leafy greens
- Wild caught salmon
- Beans (Try soaking/sprouting your beans to lessen the lectins.)