What exactly is Vitamin B complex?
Vitamin B complex comprises of eight different vitamins all of which play an integral role in converting food into energy. Next time you take a look at your vitamins, check to see if it contains Vitamin B complex – essentially it means it contains the following eight vitamins combined:
Vitamin B1 Thiamine
This vitamin is important for our health and to maintain the healthy growth of our organs including our heart and brain
This is the vitamin that is needed to breakdown drugs and fats
Crucial for the body to maintain healthy nerves, skin and digestion
B5 – Pantothenic Acid
Needed for optimal health of the nervous system.
B6 – Pyridoxine
Needed to produce red blood cells and to keep our immune systems strong.
B7 – Biotin
This vitamin is vital for healthy nails, hair and nerves
B9 – Folic Acid
This is needed to synthesise DNA and other genetic material. It also reduces the risk of birth defects in the developing baby when consumed during pregnancy.
B12 – Cobalamin
This vitamin is needed for adequate functioning of the blood cells and nerves and it also helps prevent pernicious anaemia.
If you need a little extra help straight away; I’ve created a little Vegan Vitamin Cheat Sheet to print off and stick to your fridge.
So why do we need Vitamin B Complex?
1. Can help prevent migraines, the latest research suggests that some of the B vitamins can help prevent episodes of migraines. These vitamins specifically include vitamin B6, B9 and B12.
2. Anxiety and depression management – Scientists have concluded that vitamin B12 is extremely important for preventing anxiety and depression. It has also been found that people suffering from clinical depression often lack vitamin B12 which confirms a possible correlation between the two.
3. Skin Healing – B vitamins play a great role in the healing of the skin. While applied on the skin these vitamins significantly speed up the process of wound healing.
4.Treatment of canker sores – canker sores also known as oral ulcers are painful, but they can be prevented by using a B12 infused ointment.
5. Controlling PMS – PMS as you know can be painful, and miserable for many women. However, there is a possible solution to control the symptoms and supplementing with B6 has been found to control both psychological and physical symptoms. Vitamin B6 has also been found to be beneficial for the treatment or reduction of morning sickness.
6. Prevention of Pernicious Anaemia – one the most important roles in the formation of red blood cells and pernicious anaemia can occur when there is not enough B12 in the body.
When this type of anaemia developments, the quality and condition of new red blood cells is poor, and this can lead to a decrease in health.
𝗛𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲𝗻 𝗮 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗹𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗕 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲𝘅 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗽𝗲𝗲 𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗻 𝘆𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄?
Yes you did read that right- we’re talking bright radioactive neon yellow. If you have, DON’T PANIC! It’s just our bodies very clever way of making sure it runs properly and gets rid of any excess. The colour is down to our friend Riboflavin which contains flavins (naturally occurring yellow pigments) and as it’s a water soluble vitamin this means any excess levels are excreted in your pee. Genius!! I just bloody love how the body works. 😀
An additional amount of riboflavin B2 is needed during pregnancy. 1.4mg of riboflavin a day is recommended
in pregnancy. Riboflavin helps to release energy from food and is important for eye and heart health. Many women get most of their riboflavin from animal sources and particularly dairy foods and so if they avoid these foods it is important that they regularly eat non-animal sources of riboflavin.
- fortified breakfast
- granary bread
- soya beans
- wheatgerm bread
An additional amount of Thiamine is needed during the final stage of pregnancy so increase intake to 0.9mg
a day. Thiamine helps to release energy from food and plays an important role in the development of the baby’s nervous system.
- fortified breakfast
- white or brown bread
- wholemeal bread
- yeast extract
The Vegan Society produces a supplement called Veg1 which contains riboflavin, vitamin B6, folic acid (200 micrograms), vitamin B12 (10 micrograms), vitamin D (10 micrograms), iodine (150 micrograms) and selenium.
This supplement is suitable for pregnant women, but does not contain enough folic acid (as it contains 200 micrograms rather than the required 400 micrograms). So it should be taken with an additional folic acid supplement.
Good sources of vitamin B complex foods on a vegan diet
- nutritional yeast
- Yeast extract marmite / vegemite
- Acorn squash
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Mangetout peas
Getting the most vitamin B12
Pregnant women need 2.6 micrograms per day of vitamin B12. Your body needs vitamin B12 to keep your blood cells and nerve cells working properly. As Vitamin B12 is found in fish, eggs, diary and meat, vegans can get their b12 from these sources, as well as taking a decent prenatal vitamin with B12 included.
- Fortified foods with B12
- Non diary milks
- Non-dairy spread
- Nutritional yeast flakes
Complications of vitamin B12 deficiency
A lack of vitamin B12 (with or without anaemia) can cause complications such as neurological changes, vision problems, memory loss, and damage to parts of the nervous system- particularly in the legs.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can sometimes lead to temporary infertility, so its absolutely crucial that if you’re following a vegan diet and trying to conceive that you ensure you’re getting the right vitamins and nutrients way before falling pregnant.
If you’re pregnant, not having enough vitamin B12 can increase the risk of your baby developing a serious birth defect known as a neural tube defect.
Examples of neural tube defects include:
- spina bifida – where the baby’s spine does not develop properly
- anencephaly – where a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull
- encephalocele – where a membrane or skin-covered sac containing part of the brain pushes out of a hole in the skull
The foods that are fortified with B12 often contain more than is needed and they are also more easily absorbed in the gut than those found in meat products. Therefore, they can be beneficial to those suffering from IBS and crohns disease.