Check out Vitamins-Part 1 here
DISCLAIMER: You should consider your age and physiological state (e.g. pregnancy or lactation) will change your daily requirements for each vitamin, these are for adults over 18 who are not pregnant. Also, requirements vary among nations.
This is the second and final instalment of the vitamin series, covering the B complex vitamins and vitamin C. Once again, these posts are for reference for those who are interested in understanding what vitamins contribute to your overall health.
The B and C vitamins are water-soluble, which means if you over-do them it generally is NOT a problem, they’ll get flushed out in your next bathroom visit. Easy.
The B Complex
The B complex vitamins are often called the “energy vitamins”, they work together to help in energy production and also assist in breaking down the carbohydrates, fats and proteins we consume.
Also known as thiamin.
Importance? Muscle & nerve health, processing carbs & proteins.
Where from? Pork products – this may be your only excuse to eat bacon and say it’s “healthy” perhaps go for a leaner pork chop instead but consider the fats and salt content of consuming bacon regularly, sunflower seeds, pasta and bread (except for gluten-free products which have not been fortified).
How much? You probably get enough already from any flour product you consume daily.
What happens if I don’t get enough? The deficiency syndrome for B1 is called beri beri, which have various symptoms affecting the nervous system. This mostly affects chronic alcoholics, and those that consume an excess of raw fish.
Also known as riboflavin
Importance? Growth, eye health, blood production, processing carbs and fats.
Where from? Beef, eggs, whole grains, green leafy veg.
How much? Consuming green veg, eggs and some dairy each day should do it.
What happens if I don’t get enough? Light sensitivity, inflammation of various membranes (skin, mouth, eyes & intestinal system), anaemia, hindrance of growth in children.
Also known as nicotinic acid/niacin or nicotinamide.
Importance? Helps with digestion & carb processing, required for extracting energy from our diet, used in making cholesterol and fats.
Where from? Whole grains, legumes, seeds, pork, dairy, meat, coffee. These foods contain a particular amino acid called tryptophan which can be converted to B3 in our body.
How much? A cup of coffee is more than enough of your daily intake if you’re not into coffee, any white meat or pork will be enough for the day.
What happens if I don’t get enough? Pellagra – dermatitis, diarrhea & inflamed tongue, symptoms become very severe in some cases.
What happens if I have too much? Skin flushing, liver damage, decreased insulin sensitivity (you’d have to be consuming A LOT of tryptophan containing products for a long period of time to experience these symptoms).
Also known as pantothenic acid
Importance? Digestive health, processing carbs, blood production, essential in generating energy from our diet, cholesterol and hormone synthesis, metabolizing drugs, and making the fatty coating on our nerves that keep them protected and healthy.
Where from? Whole grains, nuts & seeds, legumes, most vegetables
How much? A bit of all of the above each day.
What happens if I don’t get enough? This is rare, only found amongst very malnourished people.
Also known as pyridoxal phosphate
Importance? Brain function, important in carb & protein processing, blood & DNA production.
Where from? Meat, spinach, bananas, potatoes, refined grains – however, it is heat-sensitive. Best to eat your spinach & bananas raw.
How much? One banana will give you about a quarter of your daily intake, so including a serve of meat with potatoes (a pot roast favourite) wouldn’t go astray.
What happens if I don’t get enough? Rare as it is found in so many foods.
Also known as biotin
Importance? Metabolism of fats and proteins, and has also been recommended to strengthen your hair.
Where from? Egg yolk, liver, kidney, cereals, yeast, soybeans, peanuts, walnuts. Avoid consuming raw egg whites, which blocks the use of biotin in our body, ensure they’re cooked well and try and include the yolk too!
How much? A serve of eggs.
What happens if I don’t get enough? High cholesterol, dermatitis, fatigue, nausea, weight loss, alopecia.
Also known as folic acid or folate.
Importance? Brain function and mental health, DNA production, important during pregnancy and early life as it helps the rapid growth of tissues.
Where from? Green leafy veg.
How much? Well, here’s the deal, if you don’t have some greens you probably aren’t getting too much B9, especially if you like to party on the weekend (or any other day of the week).
What happens if I don’t get enough? The consumption of alcohol can reduce folate absorbance and contribute to a deficiency which can cause cellular abnormalities in tissues, anaemia, infertility, diarrhea and neural tube defects in an unborn baby (spina bifida, anencephaly), the importance of pre-natal vitamins if you are trying to conceive is absolutely imperative.
Also known as cobalamin
Importance? Healthy nervous system, blood & DNA production.
Where from? Animal products (liver, oysters, beef, eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurt) – vegans beware.
How much? Consuming dairy on a daily basis is sufficient.
What happens if I don’t get enough? Anaemia – pernicious (fatal form of anaemia) and/or megablastic (larger & fewer red blood cells, decreased DNA production), Neuropahty
Also known as ascorbic acid.
Importance? Skin & tissue production and helps in producing collagen which keeps skin looking youthful and also ensures our blood vessels have the appropriate elasticity & strength, wound healing, immune system, preservative for foods, enhances iron absorption.
Where from? Fruit & veg – spinach, tomatoes, oranges (try and avoid cooking to maximize vitamin C intake).
How much? One orange is almost all your daily requirement.
What happens if I don’t get enough? We all know about the sailors and their bleeding gums due to scurvy, however this is pretty uncommon. You may be deficient and experience some very non-specific symptoms including fatigue, anorexia, weakness and, of course, increased susceptibility to infection.
So, if you’ve been considering the carb/protein/fat content of food, it might also be an idea to think about the vitamins they can give you too. Also, if you’ve been considering a multi-vitamin, have a look into the dosage of each vitamin and whether it’s enough for your needs.