B vitamins are instrumental for maintaining proper health and growing bodies. Women in particular need more of specific B vitamins in their diets than men, depending on the different stages in their lives. From folic acid to B6 and B12, B vitamins all have important functions that can help you avoid birth defects, regulate metabolic functioning, increase energy, or just give you lustrous hair and healthy skin.
Why We Don't Get Enough
People would have to include at least five servings of fruits, grains, and vegetables rich in vitamin B to get the necessary dosage. However, modern Western diets consist mostly of processed foods that have stripped the nutritional value away, lowering the amount of vitamin B available in the food. In addition, as people age they have more difficulty processing the B vitamins in their foods, so supplements are recommended for people over the age of 50.
Foods Rich in Vitamin B
Different B vitamins are available in different foods. For instance, B1 and B2 are available through unprocessed grains and cereals. Vitamins B3 and B6 are available in chicken and turkey. Leafy green vegetables and lentils give you vitamin B9. You can get B12 by drinking milk or eating eggs. Vitamin B5 is in most foods, and vitamin B7 is in bananas. Orange juice and beans will also add B vitamins to your diet.
Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency
If you are experiencing tiredness or hair loss, you may blame it on aging – but it could be because you're not getting enough vitamin B. Being low in vitamin B can cause respiratory infections, muscle cramps and a loss of appetite. Even depression can have a hidden cause in a lack of B vitamins. Vitamin B is also essential to maintaining skin health, and deficiencies of it can cause eczema. Some doctors are prescribing B vitamins for cancer patients to improve their overall health and strengthen the immune system, even though there is no evidence that it can help cure cancer.
When to Increase Your Vitamin B Intake
If you are feeling lethargic or are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or breast feeding, it's a good idea to start including foods rich in vitamin B to your diet or add some vitamin supplements. If you are over the age of 50, consult with your doctor about increasing your vitamin B intake. Children who are growing also need the right amount of vitamin B to grow healthy and strong.
Is it Safe?
B vitamins are water soluble, and if you take more than you need, you will generally excrete the extra amount in your urine. Many doctors consider supplementation to be very safe. However, a little goes a long way, and if you do take too much, you can experience some problems. That's why diet is the safest way to increase your levels of vitamin B, and before supplementing you should check with your physician. If you are undertaking drug therapy, like chemotherapy, some vitamin B supplementation can interfere with the efficacy of the drugs. To avoid adverse health side effects check with your doctor to make sure it won't affect any other treatment you might be undergoing.
Jordan Traeger is a freelance writer, finance and insurance expert. He writes on various subjects and contributes to a number of websites, covering health insurance related topics such as short term medical insurance.
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