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Key Findings

  • The vitamin B complex includes B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12.  

  • Alone – or in tandem – these essential nutrients perform a variety of vital functions, including energy generation, red blood cell creation and immune system enhancement.

  • Key B vitamins can help stave off premature aging, minimize acne, and promote healthy skin, hair and nails.


The Power of Eight

The popular TV sitcom in the late 70s “Eight is Enough” could have been talking about the vitamin B complex.  

At least where optimal body functionality and radiant skin is concerned, as these eight essential nutrients – alone or in different combinations – boast a myriad of health benefits from head to toe.

Known by many as vitamin B complex, this nutritional powerhouse is comprised of B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folic Acid) and B12 (Cobalamin).  Each performs critical tasks to keep body and soul performing at their best.  In concert, they can reap even greater rewards.

B vitamins can be easily obtained through a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of lean meats, fresh fish, leafy vegetables, and legumes and nuts.  Let’s see where to find these key nutrients – and how they can positively impact the body.

Vitamin B1

Charged with energy production, vitamin B1 helps the body metabolize the carbohydrates it receives from food.  In addition, it aids in new cell development and production, and facilitates brain, muscle and nervous system maintenance.  As an anti-stress vitamin, vitamin B1 also effectively supports the immune system.

Food sources:

  • Enriched and whole grain products

  • Wheat germ

  • Spinach and kale

  • Trout

  • Peanuts

  • Beans

Vitamin B2

By working as an anti-oxidant to fight off free radicals, vitamin B12 helps stave off premature aging. Like many of the B vitamins, it also helps convert food into energy, produce new red blood cells, and maintain healthy skin, eyes, nervous system and gut lining – with an additional aesthetic benefit of minimizing acne.

Food sources:

  • Eggs

  • Almonds

  • Milk and dairy products

  • Soybeans

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Wild rice

Vitamin B3

By helping the epidermis retain much-needed moisture, nicotinamide – a vitamin B3 (niacin) derivative – can help reduce fine lines and reveal softer, smoother skin.  It also helps boost HDL (good) cholesterol, convert food into energy, produce stress and sex hormones, and tag-team with other B vitamins to make and repair DNA.

Food sources:

  • Red and organ meats

  • Fish

  • Yeast

  • Eggs

  • Milk

  • Green vegetables

Vitamin B5

Found in almost every food group that’s part of a well-balanced diet, vitamin B5 helps convert fats and carbohydrates into energy, like many of its fellow B vitamins.  In addition, it can help produce sex and stress hormones in neurotransmitters and the adrenal glands, and minimize acne by helping the body break down oils.

Food sources:

  • Broccoli

  • Avocados

  • Legumes

  • Yogurt

  • Mushrooms

  • Chicken

Vitamin B6

Involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions throughout the body’s cells, vitamin B6 performs a litany of daily tasks.  These include helping regulate moods and sleep patterns, form new red blood cells and hemoglobin, metabolize amino acids from the foods we eat, and store protein and carbs as glycogen in the muscles and liver.

Food sources:

  • Salmon

  • Turkey

  • Cheese

  • Potatoes

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Non-citrus fruits

Vitamin B7

Referred to by many as “the beauty vitamin,” vitamin B7 is essential for lustrous hair and strong bones and nails.  Not only can it improve hair’s texture and tone, it can also help treat cradle cap on the scalp.  Vitamin B7’s other claim to fame is its role during pregnancy, when it helps support normal fetal development.

Food sources:

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Barley

  • Liver

  • Cauliflower

  • Egg yolks

  • Nuts

Vitamin B9

An essential nutrient for pregnant women, vitamin B9 is critical for the fetus’ healthy growth and development – particularly in reducing the likelihood of neurological birth defects in the spine and brain.  Vitamin B9 also assists in forming red blood cells, which can result in healthy nails, and can also help alleviate depression and prevent memory loss.

Food sources:

  • Beets

  • Root vegetables

  • Salmon

  • Dark leafy greens, including spinach

  • Asparagus

  • Orange juice

Vitamin B12

By helping regulate the skin’s pigment production and location, vitamin B12 can effectively ward off hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin).  It can also boost nail health, thanks to its role in promoting iron absorption, along with helping the body metabolize proteins, build DNA, and foster healthy nerve cells and nervous system.

Food sources:

  • Chicken

  • Shellfish, including clams

  • Fish

  • Beef liver and organ meats

  • Dairy products

  • Eggs

What’s the bottom line?

Comprised of eight powerful B vitamins that operate just as efficiently autonomously as in tandem, the vitamin B complex is a virtual nutritional powerhouse.  Not only does it affect what happens within the body, its benefits are equally manifested externally on the skin, hair and nails. Fortunately, most people can obtain their essential B vitamins through a nutritionally balanced diet.  However, if further supplementation is needed, consultation with a medical or holistic specialist is advised.