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The B Vitamins - what do they do and how do we get them?

The Elves explore the B vitamins today to see what they are, why we need them and where we can get them from. Like the Elves, B vitamins work as a team and in harmony together. They are an important group for us and because they are soluble in water, care needs to be taken in food preparation and also we need to keep adding them to our diet as we store them poorly in our bodies.

Vitamin B1 Thiamin

Helps in releasing energy from food, promotes muscle production particularly the heart, together with red blood cell production and also aids digestion and the nervous system. So all in all pretty useful. Watch out for alcohol as this increases demand for and excretion of Thiamin.

Get it from whole grains, nuts, pulses, yeast, red meat, oats and seafood.

Vitamin B2 Riboflavin

Helps in releasing energy from food as Thiamin, supports mucus membranes, including eyes, it’s an antioxidant so promotes skin and hair health, also works in favour of your immune system and produces antibodies.

Get it from whole grains, eggs, dairy, green leafy veggies, pulses and yeast.

Vitamin B3 Niacin

Helps in releasing energy from food  again, supports production of key enzymes and nervous system. Great for cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. We make our own from tryptophan this is gained from eggs and cheese. Useful!

Get it from whole grains, nuts, seeds, poultry, meat, oily fish, dairy, dried fruit and yeast.

Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid

Works to aid energy production, adrenal gland hormone production and metabolises fats, proteins and carbs from food. Great for helping wounds heal to as it supercharges number and speed of cells transported to the wound. Look after your gut and you produce some of your own of this too!

Get it from whole grains, egg yolks, pulses, kidneys and liver.

Vitamin B6 Pyroxidine

Aids protein metabolising and red blood cell formation. It’s also jolly useful because it gets involved in producing a whole range of good things for us, such as; insulin, haemoglobin, serotonin and collagen. You’ll use it to metabolise oestrogen and produce the acid for your stomach. Watch out for headaches, especially those associated with menstrual cycle, anxiety and irritability as this could mean you’re missing out on enough Vit B6…

Get it from wholegrain (are you getting the point yet?), pork, pulses and green leafy veggies, banana, avocado and walnuts.

Vitamin B9 Folate

Helps with protein metabolism, forming red blood cells and healthy cell division which helps protect against some cancers. Recent research on genetics has shown that the folate found in foods sometimes works better than Folic acid which is synthetic form. Watch out for anaemia as an indicator of not enough B9

Get it from green leafy vegetables, meats especially liver and kidney, fish, pulses and citrus fruits.

Vitamin B12 Cobalamin

Unlike the rest B12 can be stored in the liver and is needed with folic acid to produce new DNA as well as the high turnover cells such as hair and gut. It’s good at protecting nerves and making antibodies after vaccination. 

Get it from milk products, liver and kidney, eggs

Vitamin B7 Biotin (Used to be Vitamin H)

Required for producing fatty acids, DNA and is great for aiding healthy hair, nails, nerve cells and skin.

Get it from whole grains, nuts, cauliflower, egg yolk, oily fish, yeast extract and liver.


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