We pack our diets full of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. We try to reduce stress, move our bodies, and always opt for a more natural approach to health. But even then, due to poor food quality and depleted soil, sometimes our diet just doesn't give us the same kind of coverage we need.
So what do we do when our diet is full of the right things, but our energy levels and metabolism seem to be suffering? One option is to take a daily B-vitamin supplement—like the NOW® Methylfolate and Methyl B-12—to make sure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs. B vitamins are important for cellular energy, hormonal function, and a healthy metabolism.* But don't take our word for it! Here are all the B vitamins and why it's important to have enough of each in your diet, according to the latest science:
Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamin or thiamine. It's water-soluble and very important for energy metabolism and the healthy growth and function of our body's cells.* We can't produce thiamin on our own, which means we have to get it through our diet. Great dietary sources of B1 include whole grains, meats, fish, seaweed, sunflower seeds, and black beans.
All of the B vitamins have more than one name, and vitamin B2's nickname is riboflavin. Riboflavin is an important part of two major coenzymes (called FMN and FAD) in the body that are critical for energy production, cellular health, and the metabolism of fats and drugs.*
One interesting thing about riboflavin (and other B vitamins as well) is its connection to the bacteria in your gut. Certain microbes living in the large intestine can produce riboflavin, which can then be absorbed and used by your body. If you need a little extra motivation to eat your veggies, you'll be happy to know that studies have shown that more riboflavin is produced after eating vegetables than meats.
Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) is important for converting food to energy.* If you feel a pattern forming here, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. As a group, B vitamins are well-known for their role in energy production.* B3 is also crucial for digestive health, skin health, and the health of nerves.* Eggs, fish, and legumes all contain great levels of this vitamin.
The most important thing to know about vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is its role in the creation of coenzyme A (CoA).* You might remember CoA from high school physiology, and it's important for a number of biological functions.*
So what foods contain B5? There's good news and bad news here. The good news is that almost all whole foods (both plant-based and animal-based) contain B5 to some degree. The bad news is that processing decreases the amount of B5 in a food by as much as 80 percent. The take-away? If you find yourself leaning a little too hard on packaged or processed foods, it might be time to start meal prepping or scheduling a weekly visit to the farmers market to make sure you're getting enough real, B5-rich foods.
Vitamin B6 (nickname: pyridoxine) is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body and plays an especially important role in protein metabolism.* According to the FDA, it may also help to support a healthy vascular system when combined with a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet.* You can get vitamin B6 from food, or you can invest in a high-quality supplement like NOW's 50 mg B6 Tablets.
You're probably already familiar with vitamin B7, which is more commonly referred to as biotin. Biotin is pretty famous for its ability to promote healthy skin, but it's also important for immune system health and—you guessed it!—energy production and metabolism.* Salmon, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, and eggs are great sources of biotin. Need some inspiration to get in the kitchen this week? Here are 15 healthy (and ridiculously tasty) ways to eat sweet potatoes.
If you're a parent, you probably know that B9 (or folate) is an important vitamin. During pregnancy your body needs more folate than usual since it plays an important role in nucleic acid synthesis.* Also known as folic acid, the recommended daily allowance increases from 400 mcg/day for non-pregnant women to 600 mcg/day for pregnant women. Men need about 400 mcg/day steadily throughout their adult life. If you like to try and get your essential vitamins and minerals through food, spinach is a great source of vitamin B9. Not sure how to get more spinach into your life? Try popping it into your smoothie or omelet in the mornings.
Whether you've been taking a B-vitamin complex for years and are just now learning exactly what each B vitamin does—or you're just now considering supplementing with B vitamins and you're doing your research first—it's important to educate yourself on exactly how each nutrient might benefit your health. When it comes to choosing a supplement, it's always important to make sure you're taking the highest quality nutrients in their most bioavailable form so they can actually be used by your body. Luckily, NOW is committed to high-quality ingredients and rigorous testing. That way, you know that what's on the label is actually in the bottle.