What does Vitamin B do in the body? A lot.
The first thing to note, is there are many B vitamins, not just one!
In total, there are 8 essential B vitamins.1
B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenate), biotin, B6 (Pyridoxine), B9 (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamin).
Essential vitamins cannot be made by the body or simply cannot be made in enough quantities. Theses nutrients are needed by the body to carry out its most basic tasks. 2
Note: Synthetic forms of these vitamins have different names, because they are not the same. Folic acid, pantothenic acid and cyanocobalamin are not the same as the whole food, dietary vitamins; folate, pantothenate or cobalamin. Learn more about the difference by reading our article Folate VS Folic Acid.
Adequate amounts of B vitamins from whole foods and bioavailable sources, will provide your body with the energy it needs to thrive, plus many other health benefits!
If you find yourself needing more energy, you might be deficient in B vitamins. Watch our Human Energy Crisis video for information on how proper nutrition plays a major role in stress management and energy production.
B vitamins are the real MVP
B vitamins are needed to help carry out a multitude of bodily functions! Everything from helping the metabolic system function to forming red blood cells and improving mental cognitive ability. 1,3
However, there is one specific function that B vitamins are most known for, and perhaps that’s just because it’s the most experiential benefit! We’re talking about energy.
B vitamins allow your body to turn food into energy.1,4 Dietary B vitamins are known to give your body sustainable energy boosts, just ask anyone that takes our PureFood B!
Every B vitamin has a slightly different role in the body. Most contribute to converting food into energy, but also have other significant jobs.
What B vitamins help with in the body:
(B1) Thiamine – helps turn glucose into energy, as well as helps our nervous system function optimally. 1
(B2) Riboflavin – produces energy in the body and assists with keeping vision and skin healthy. 1
(B3) Niacin – converts carbohydrates into energy. Niacin is the only heat stable B vitamin.1,5
(B5) Pantothenate – is needed to produce red blood cells as well as matabolise proteins, fats and carbohydrates. 1
(B6) Pyridoxine – helps brain processes and development as well as metabolizes carbohydrates and proteins. 1
(B9) Folate – is required for your metabolism to function optimally. 1,3
(B12) Cobalamin – influences metabolic function, helps form red blood cells, improves mental ability and converts amino acids and fatty acids into energy your body can use. 1,3
why b vitamins in food aren’t enough
There are many plant foods that are rich in B vitamins; bell peppers, leafy greens and spinach are a few.6 However, before you go munchin’ on some raw green collard, you should know that many vitamins and minerals in leafy greens aren’t accessible. This is because they contain oxalates that act as inhibitors to valuable vitamins and minerals.7 Meaning they prevent B vitamins from being accessible during digestion. You can get around this by very lightly steaming your greens, or rubbing them in a vegetable oil and lemon mixture.
As mentioned previously, it’s also important to not cook B vitamin rich foods above 40 degrees Celsius, if you want to reap the benefits. These vitamins are very heat sensitive.8 So even if you’re a meat eater, you’re not safe either. Cooking your meat above 40 degrees will remove most if not all of the B vitamins too.
Unfortunately, because B vitamins are needed in almost every process in the body, your body needs a lot more than what you probably provide it with. This is partially due to the food systems in place in North America. In most cases, these processes do not prioritize fresh, organic or local produce. It’s been proven that organic produce in the freshest state possible, provides the most nutrition.9
Our body needs dietary, bioavailable B vitamins everyday. This is because most B vitamins are water soluble and extremely heat sensitive.1 Synthetic B vitamins are hard for your body to absorb and use; they don’t even come close to matching the absorption capabilities of B vitamins from food.10
you need a vitamin B supplement
Vitamin B deficiencies occur when there is a lack of bioavailable B vitamins in your diet, or in rare cases if your body is unable to absorb B vitamins.11 Due to the unstable nature of B vitamins as mentioned earlier, heating foods that are high in B vitamins will cause a majority of the vitamins to be destroyed. Not only that, but also previously mentioned, B vitamins are water soluble. This means B vitamins cannot be stored in the body, if there is more present in the body than what is needed, they are disposed of.
Most B vitamin supplements on the market are made synthetically in a lab, using isolated vitamins. Avoid B vitamins that contain folic acid, pantothenic acid cyanocobalamin, pyridoxine HCI, crystalline biotin and/or ptyeoylglutamic acid. These are not bioavailable B vitamins that are found in nature, but instead synthetic isolates that can cause various health complications. 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21
Food is complex, and for this reason isolated, synthetic nutrients simply cannot compete. Any small change to natural, bioavailable foods will destroy their nutritious effects.22 The only way to ensure your body is getting the nutrition it needs, is to invest in a supplement that is solely made with pure, actual food. Not derivatives, extracts or food bases. For the maximum benefits, a fully organic supplement made from pure, bioavailable plant foods is best. This is because organic foods have much higher nutritional potency than conventionally grown produce.23
Watch out for impostors
Fake B vitamins posing as real ones are all a part of the greenwashing game. Companies put out a cheap product that won’t actually do your body any good, and put tons of money into ‘greenwashing’ it to make everyone think it’s beneficial for good health. Synthetic vitamins are a huge part of this. Companies will use words like ‘food based’ and ‘actual real food’ but unfortunately these terms aren’t regulated. Fortunately, you can still do your research and find out which products are telling the truth, and which one’s are posers.
Some brands will try to position themselves as whole food supplements by putting synthetic vitamins into yeast. Fortified yeast is often referred to as saccharomyces cerevisiaev on nutritional labels. They then add this yeast to their supplements and claim they source their vitamins and minerals from whole food, when in reality they’ve just fortified nutritional or brewer’s yeast with synthetics.
Learn more about fortified nutritional yeast, by reading this article.
Synthetic B vitamins like folic acid for example, are only partial nutrients.24 This means they act like “anti-nutrients” in the body, because they’re missing cofactors, phytonutrients and other compounds needed to transform the vitamins into energy. The body must then rob its own stores setting the stage for nutritional deficiencies. So yes, your supplements could actually be causing nutritional deficiencies.
Get energy now
Absorbable, B vitamins from actual whole foods should be taken daily for adrenal and metabolic support and most importantly, for energy!! If your current B vitamin isn’t giving you a noticeable energy increase, it’s time to switch to one that will.
Our PureFood B is an excellent way to get a ton of bioavailable B vitamins from actual food. That’s it! Our nutritional B powder contains organic guava, lemon, holy basil and spirulina. There aren’t any binders, fillers or extracts. Plus we use gentle production methods to ensure the food in our powders is never treated with anything other than water, light or air. Additionally, the food ingredients we use are never heated above 40 degrees Celsius, because we’re all about nutrient retention. Booyah!
Yay for whole food supplements that actually work!
Want to know why we need more nutrition now than ever? Read Dr. David Wang’s eBook; Healthy People Healthy Planet. This eBook focuses on therapeutic health practices that will help you thrive in your modern life, while ensuring the planet’s health isn’t sacrificed in the process.
10 Feher M, Schmidt J. Property Distributions: Differences between Drugs, Natural Products, and
Molecules from Combinatorial Chemistry. Journal of Chemical Information and Computer
12 Whitney EN, Rolfes S. Understanding Nutrition, 4th ed. West Publishing, New York, 1987
13 Budvari S, et al editors. The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs and Biologicals, 12th ed. Merck Research Laboratories, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 1996
14 DeCava JA. The Real Truth about Vitamins and Antioxidants. A Printery, Centerfield, MA, 1997
15 Ensminger AH, et al. Food & Nutrition Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. CRC Press, New York, 1993
16 Thiel R. The Truth about Vitamins in Supplements. ANMA Monitor, 2003;6(2)
17 Thiel R. Natural Vitamins May Be Superior to Synthetic Ones. Medical Hypo, 2000;55(6):461-469
18 Vinson J, Bose P, Lemoine L, Hsiao KH. Nutrient Availability: Chemical and Biological Aspects. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge (UK), 11989:125-127
19 Shils ME, Shilke M, et al. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 10th ed, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Phil., 2005
20 Ensminger, AH, Ensminger ME, Konlande JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 1994, CRC Press, Ann Arbor, MI
21 O’Neil M, Editor. The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs and Biologicals. 14th ed., 2006, Merck & Co. Inc., NJ
22 Trichopoulou A, Katsouyanni K, et al. Consumption of Olive oil and Specific Food Groups in
Relation to Breast Cancer Risk in Greece. J Natl Cancer Inst, 1995;87(2):110-116
24 Powers, H. (2007). Folic acid under scrutiny. <i>British Journal of Nutrition,</i> <i>98</i>(4), 665-666. doi:10.1017/S0007114507795326