Why Is Vitamin B Important?

by Keri Gardner

About Keri Gardner

Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.

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A healthy diet supplies B vitamins for growth, development and various metabolic functions. Vitamin B is actually a complex of eight B vitamins: B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-9, and B-12. Many of these vitamins overlap in their physiological functions and participate as coenzymes in important cellular processes. Your nervous system, digestive system and even your red blood cells depend on adequate dietary vitamin B-complex intake.

Digestive System

Several B vitamins affect your digestive system. Vitamin B-5 is an important component of coenzyme A. Coenzyme A helps your body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Vitamin B-1 deficiency is associated with poor appetite, ulcerative colitis and diarrhea. Niacin, known as vitamin B-3, is involved in proper digestive functioning as well. Niacin deficiency causes a condition called pellagra, which manifests as a dark red rash on the hands and feet, intestinal ailments and mental disturbances.

Nervous System

Vitamin B-12 is an enzyme cofactor that plays a role the formation of red blood cells and beneifts the central nervous system. A vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause neurological symptoms. Additionally, your brain depends on one of the three forms of vitamin B-6 to synthesize serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Seizures, depression and other neurologic symptoms result from low B-6. Even vitamin B-1 is involved in nervous system functions, as it is important for proper neurological enzyme performance.

Blood

Several critical functions of your red blood cells and their formation involve B vitamins. Vitamin B-6 functions as a coenzyme for heme molecules, which become important for oxygen transport throughout your body. Folic acid, or B-9, deficiency results in abnormal blood cell division and consequently anemia. If your body is unable to absorb dietary vitamin B-12, pernicious anemia can become a problem.

Growth and Development

Vitamin B-12 is one of the B vitamins important to metabolism. If a child is unable to metabolize digestive products, proper growth and development cannot occur. Vitamins B-5 and B-7 are also essential for metabolism and growth. Vitamin B-5 breaks down carbohydrates, fats and proteins, while B-7 works on proteins and carbohydrates. Neither humans nor animals can live without sufficient vitamin B-5.

Skin and the Immune System

Your immune system is adversely affected by deficiencies in vitamins B-6 and B-7. Vitamin B-6 helps your immune system create antibodies that help fight disease. A hereditary disorder of B-7 metabolism presents as an impaired immune system. Your skin is constantly making new cells to protect your body, but deficiencies in vitamins that enable cellular division can damage your skin. Vitamins B-2, B-3 and B-7 deficiencies cause skin rash, inflammation and dermatitis.

Photo Credits:

  • soft focused portrait of a newborn baby image by Vladimir Melnik from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.