B Complex Vitamins are all water soluble and are not stored well in the body. Thus they are needed daily through diet or supplement to support their many functions. These vitamins are fairly easily digested from food or supplements and then absorbed into the blood, mainly from the small intestine. When the amount of Bs taken exceeds the body’s needs, the excess is easily excreted in the urine, giving it a dark yellow color.
The richest natural source containing the largest number of B vitamins is brewer’s yeast, or nutritional yeast. The germ and bran of cereal grains are good sources of these vitamins, as are some beans, peas, and nuts. Milk and many leafy green vegetables may also supply small amounts of B vitamins. Liver is an excellent source of the B complex vitamins. Other meats, such as beef, are fairly low, except for B12.
The B vitamins are catalytic spark plugs in the human body; they function as coenzymes to catalyze many biochemical reactions, such as converting carbohydrates to glucose, and they are important in fat and protein/amino acid metabolism. The B complex vitamins are also important for the normal functioning of the nervous system and are often helpful in bringing relaxation or energy to individuals who are stressed or fatigued.
Signs of deficiency:
- Loss of appetite
- Sore mouth or tongue
Source: Haas, E. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet & Nutritional Medicine. New York, Ten Speed.