Tuesday, May 18, 2010

B-Complex Made Simple

Vitamin B-Complex

Eight of the water-soluble vitamins are known as the B-complex group: thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. They function as coenzymes that help the body obtain energy from food. They also are important for normal appetite, good vision, healthy skin, healthy nervous system and red blood cell formation.

When grains and grain products are refined, essential nutrients lost during processing are put back into these foods through a process called enrichment. Among the nutrients added during the enrichment process are thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate and iron. Some examples of enriched grain products are white rice, many breakfast cereals, white flour, breads, and pasta.

Beriberi, pellagra and pernicious anemia are three well-known B-vitamin deficiencies. These diseases are not a problem in the United States, but occasionally they occur when people omit certain foods or overeat certain foods at the expense of others. Alcoholics are especially prone to thiamin deficiency because alcohol replaces food. Vegans will need a B12 supplement. For some populations, rice is the main dietary staple. When "polishing" rice (removing its outer layers) became popular, beriberi increased significantly.

Thaimin (B1)

Sources: Pork, liver, whole grains, enriched grain products, peas, meat, legumes.

Major Functions: Helps release energy from foods; promotes normal appetite; important in function of nervous system.

Stability in foods: Losses depend on cooking method, length, alkalinity of cooking medium (pH level); destroyed by sulfite used to treat dried fruits such as apricots; dissolves in cooking water.

Deficiency Symptoms: Mental confusion; muscle weakness, wasting; edema; impaired growth; beriberi.


Riboflavin (B2)

Sources: Liver, milk, dark green vegetables, whole and enriched grain products, eggs.

Major Functions: Helps release energy from foods; promotes good vision, healthy skin.

Stability in foods: Sensitive to light; unstable in alkaline solutions.

Deficiency symptoms: Cracks at corners of mouth; dermatitis around nose and lips; eyes sensitive to light.


Niacin (nicotinamide, nicotinic acid)

Sources: Liver, fish, poultry, meat, peanuts, whole and enriched grain products.

Major Functions: Energy production from foods; aids digestion, promotes normal appetite; promotes healthy skin, nerves.

Deficiency symptoms: Skin disorders; diarrhea; weakness; mental confusion; irritability.


Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)

Sources: Pork, meats, whole grains and cereals, legumes, green, leafy vegetables.

Major functions: Aids in protein metabolism, absorption; aids in red blood cell formation; helps body use fats.

Stability in foods: Considerable losses during cooking.

Deficiency symptoms: Skin disorders, dermatitis, cracks at corners of mouth; irritability; anemia; kidney stones; nausea; smooth tongue.


Folacin (folic acid)

Sources: Liver, kidney, dark green leafy vegetables, meats, fish, whole grains, fortified grains and cereals, legumes, citrus fruits.

Major functions: Aids in protein metabolism; promotes red blood cell formation; prevents birth defects of spine, brain; lowers homocystein levels and thus coronary heart disease risk.

Stability in foods: Easily destroyed by storing, cooking and other processing.

Deficiency symptoms: Anemia; smooth tongue; diarrhea.


Vitamin B12

Sources: Found only in animal foods: meats, liver, kidney, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, oysters, shellfish.

Major functions: Aids in building of genetic material; aids in development of normal red blood cells; maintenance of nervous system.

Deficiency symptoms: Pernicious anemia, anemia; neurological disorders; degeneration of peripheral nerves that may cause numbness, tingling in fingers and toes.


Pantothenic acid

Sources: Liver, kidney, meats, egg yolk, whole grains, legumes; also made by intestinal bacteria.

Major functions: Involved in energy production; aids in formation of hormones.

Stability in foods: About half of pantothenic acid is lost in the milling of grains and heavily refined foods.

Deficiency symptoms: Uncommon due to availability in most foods; fatigue; nausea, abdominal cramps; difficulty sleeping.



Sources: Liver, kidney, egg yolk, milk, most fresh vegetables, also made by intestinal bacteria.

Major functions: Helps release energy from carbohydrates; aids in fat synthesis.
Deficiency symptoms: Uncommon under normal circumstances; fatigue; loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting; depression; muscle pains; anemia.

 To  my surprise, I found a lot more B vitamin recipes than I did A, so here are some of the better ones I came across. Feel free to add more!

Grilled Peppery Top Round Steak with Parmesan Asparagus

5 Delicious Vitamin B-6 Recipes

B-12 Rich, Vegetarian OK Coconut Lightcake

Diet File: 6 More B-12 Rich Recipes That Sound Amazing

That's not enough for you? I found a site that features over 100 B-rich recipes, so take your pick!

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