Note: Each week, family physician Regina Chinsio-Kwong, DO from Mission Heritage Medical Group in Laguna Niguel will offer insight on a different vitamin—why you need it, how to incorporate it into your diet and how it affects your health. If you are considering taking any kind of supplement, consult with a medical professional first.
WHAT IT DOES: If vitamins and minerals are nutritional superheroes for the body, then B complex is the Justice League. This group of vitamins includes B1 (also known as thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate or folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin). Individually, each of these B complex vitamins play important roles in maintaining good health, such as creating energy from food, aiding in normal growth and development, working with the heart and muscles, producing hormones and red blood cells, and ensuring healthy skin and nervous, digestive and immune systems.
RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE: There are different recommended doses for each B vitamin, and each of those can vary according to age, gender and the presence of certain medical conditions. It's best to talk with a doctor to see if you lack the necessary B vitamins and get advice on how to make up any deficiencies.
HOW TO INCLUDE IT IN YOUR DIET: B vitamins abound in food, either naturally or as an additive to food products such as breads and grains. Liver, pork, seafood, chicken, potatoes, green leafy vegetables, dried beans, bananas, peanuts, citrus fruit, mushrooms, peas, eggs and milk and dairy products are among the sources of B vitamins. The vitamins are also available in supplements, individually or, in a combined formula such as B-Complex or as part of a multivitamin.
HEALTH IMPACT: Because B vitamins affect your health in many ways, a lack of those vitamins can cause a range of problems such as anemia, fatigue, loss of appetite, mood changes, tingling or numbness in legs, or vision problems, depending on the type of B vitamin. But be careful about taking too much—there aren't many side effects, but in rare cases certain Bs can cause issues such as vomiting, blurred vision or high blood sugar, and they can have an effect on certain medical conditions. Because there are so many variables with each vitamin, it's best to consult with a doctor about B complex vitamins and your health.
RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT BRANDS:
Common: RAW B-complex, GNC, Life Extension, NatureMade
Professional Line: Designs for Health, Integrative Therapeutics, Pure Encapsulations, Thorne, Vital Nutrients, Xymogen