B vitamins are vital for maintaining optimal health, as they play a crucial role in supporting many functions of the body; brain function, the nervous system, energy production and they work extra hard during times of stress to see you through.
What are B vitamins?
There are eight B vitamins in total – collectively referred to as B complex vitamins. There’s thiamine (B12), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12).
How to achieve proper B vitamins intake?
If you’re eating a healthy, varied diet then you should be getting all the B vitamins you need but sometimes, for various reasons, we fall short. Lifestyle choices, medications and health conditions can all impact your B vitamin status. The excessive use of pesticides in intensive farming has shown to deplete nutrients in food, some cooking methods such as boiling can reduce the vitamin content of foods, certain gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS or IBD can impact absorption of vitamins, the use of the oral contraceptive pill can interfere with absorption and chronic stress can deplete your B vitamin levels.
Here are some reasons why you might need more B vitamins:
- B vitamins and Hormone support
Maintaining healthy reproductive hormone levels requires metabolism by our liver and the detoxification pathways needed to make this happen rely on a number of B vitamins, including B3, B6, folate and B12. If we are deficient in any of these vitamins, it can result in hormones not being eliminated and result in a build-up in our bloodstream.
There is increasing evidence regarding the role of Vitamin B6 for PMS, with early evidence suggesting B6 supplementation may help to relieve a range of PMS symptoms such as bloating and breast tenderness.
- B vitamins and Stress resilience
B vitamins are important for stress tolerance and optimal nervous system function. When our body is faced with a source of stress, our adrenal glands get into action and produce stress hormones including cortisol and vitamin B5 is needed for this process so the more stressed we feel, the more B5 is required. Low levels of certain B vitamins, namely B6 and B12, have also been found in those suffering with anxiety.
- B vitamins and Energy
Our main energy molecule is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and B Vitamins are involved in the production of this molecule. If you’re lacking in certain B vitamins then you may struggle to effectively make ATP and may suffer from fatigue.
Whether you are stressed and tired or looking for some additional hormone support, supplementing with a vitamin B complex in an active and bioavailable form may help.