When we think of the B family of vitamins, we tend to think primarily of B12 since this is one of the most publicized of the B family due to its association with energy and the fact that it is usually called simply “vitamin B”.
However, there are a number of other vitamins in this group that you may not have even known belonged to the family “B”. Further, many people simply don’t know why a certain branch of vitamin B is important, or how to get it in their diet, but they simply know that they’ve heard it’s an integral part of the healthy diet.
Folate for healthy cells
Folate is a member of this family for example. You may have seen it named as Vitamin B9, but most frequently it is called folate or folic acid. Folate is mostly known as a vitamin that is very important for women who are pregnant. This is because folate helps prevent serious birth defects and helps ensure a mother’s fetus grows normally, with less likelihood of irregular cell and organ development.
Folate is found most abundantly in dark leafy green vegetables (just one of the many reasons these are so important in any diet). Another good source is dried beans and legumes. Folate helps the body make healthy new cells, and helps protect their health once they are made. Folate, along with another B vitamin, B6, helps to form healthy hemoglobin, the main component of red blood cells.
Biotin and “Pro Vitamin B5” (panthenol) for hair health
This B vitamin, most commonly known as Biotin but also called vitamin B7, is largely reputed to be a great vitamin for hair growth. It also may help improve the health of the hair you already have.
It is actually a vitamin that is commonly recommended to patients who have lost their hair after chemotherapy. It may take a while to see a difference, but many people report having some level of success with helping grow their hair after taking a supplement of this vitamin.
The only side effect may be an increase in acne. This is reported in some users, and mostly it tends to occur in people who are more acne-prone to begin with.
Pro Vitamin B5, also known as panthenol, is valued for its excellent ability to hydrate and protect the hair and skin. Used topically, it helps infuse hair and skin with strength and has the unique ability to deeply penetrate tissues and hair with moisture.
Vitamin B12 for energy and stamina
Vitamin B12 is best known for its ability to help increase energy, treat feelings of lethargy and even some depression that tends to accompany it, and help increase your overall alertness. This is because B12 is essential in converting carbohydrates into energy.
People who are lacking in this vitamin, or who are having chronic issues with lethargy and exhaustion may benefit from getting injections of this vitamin. It helps prevent anemia and promotes an overall feeling of alertness and effective concentration. The best way of course is to get the vitamin through your diet. Green leafy vegetables again supply a healthy does, and minimal cooking will help preserve the nutrient value and vitamin content.
Dairy products are also a good source of vitamin B12. Poultry and fish are also excellent sources. Some foods are “fortified” with this vitamin but it is unknown how effectively it is absorbed by this body so it is best to get it from the whole, unprocessed food.
Niacin, the vasodilator
Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. It may help those with Raynauds syndrome and it also may benefit those with arteriosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
This is because it is an effective natural vasodilator. This simply means it helps to relax, and therefore broaden, the arteries, blood vessels and capillaries. This is also the reason why you may have heard of the “niacin flush”. Taking too much of this supplement or consuming energy drinks with high levels of niacin (it’s also helpful in producing energy) may cause the cheeks to flush due to the opening and subsequent increase of blood flow through the tiny capillaries.
Some people take niacin to help clear up acne. It may improve skin health due to the increased blood flow and availability of oxygen to the skin’s surface. Some also feel that it helps reduce sebum production although there isn’t concrete proof of this yet.
Danna Norek owns AuraSensory.com, which offers a line of chemical free skin and hair care including a newly formulated, highly effective Aluminum Free Deodorant, Sulfate Free Shine Enhancing Shampoo and Deep Hydration Conditioner with panthenol, argan oil and silk amino acids, and facial skin care products.
Sources for this article include: