Vitamin B isn't just a single vitamin but a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Research showed that while they are chemically distinct, B vitamins often coexist in the same foods.

Vitamin B was once thought to be a single nutrient that existed in extracts of rice, liver, or yeast, but researchers later discovered that these extracts contained 8 separate vitamins and as a group are now referred to as vitamin B complex. These were then given distinguishing numbers.

The B vitamins are:

B1 (thiamine)
B2 (riboflavin)
B3 (niacin)
B5 (pantothenic acid)
B7 (biotin)
Folic acid

Each member of the B-complex has a unique structure and performs unique functions in the human body. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and biotin participate in different aspects of energy production, vitamin B6 is essential for amino acid metabolism, and vitamin B12 and folic acid facilitate steps required for cell division and also help form red blood cells. . Each of these vitamins has many additional functions. However, contrary to popular belief, no functions require all B-complex vitamins simultaneously.

Thiamine (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and other B vitamins have all been shown to play a role in wound healing. For this reason, some healthcare practitioners recommend a high-potency B vitamin supplement to promote wound healing.

Foods rich in B vitamins

B vitamins are particularly concentrated in meat, fish and dairy such as turkey, liver and tuna. Good sources for B vitamins include kombucha, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh, beans, nutritional yeast, brewer's yeast (yummy marmite) , and molasses.

Although the yeast used to make beer results in beers being a source of B vitamins, their bio-availability ranges from poor to negative as drinking ethanol inhibits absorption of thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), biotin (B7), and folic acid (B9). Nowadays,  Many cereals and some breads have added B vitamins.

The B12 vitamin is of note because it is not available from plant products. This makes B12 deficiency a legitimate concern for vegans.

Vitamin B deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency or hypocobalaminemia is a low blood level of vitamin B12. It can cause permanent damage to nervous tissue if left untreated long enough. Vitamin B12 itself was discovered through investigation of pernicious anemia, which is an autoimmune disease that destroys parietal cells in the stomach that secrete intrinsic factor. Pernicious anemia, if left untreated, is usually fatal within three years. Once identified, however, the condition can be treated successfully, although it cannot be cured and ongoing treatment is required.

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