Vitamin B Dictionary

There are many vitamins that play an essential role in our health. The B group is particularly important. Here is why.

B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that play key roles in the body:

  • Thiamine (B1) aids in processing sugars and amino-acids.
  • Riboflavin (B2) precursor of coenzymes needed for activation of other vitamins.
  • Niacinamide (B3) precursor of coenzymes needed in many metabolic processes.
  • d-Panthenol (pro-Vitamin B5) precursor of coenzyme A, needed to metabolize certain molecules.
  • Pyridoxine (B6) intervenes in many enzymatic reactions in the metabolism.
  • Biotin (B7) assists in the synthesis of fatty acids and in gluconeogenesis.
  • Folate (B9) precursor of DNA creation and repair, and it aids in rapid cell division and growth.
  • Cobalamins (B12) affects DNA synthesis and regulation, as well as the metabolism of fatty acids and amino-acids.

Certain groups, such as older adults, pregnant women, and vegans have a higher risk of specific vitamin B deficiencies and need to supplement some types of vitamin B. Can you guess which for each? B12, B9 and B12 again! In fact, B12 is estimated to be low in 1.5 to 15% of the population.

The symptoms of vitamin B deficiency depend on which type of vitamin B has insufficient levels in the body, but they can range from fatigue to compromised immune system.

To treat a vitamin deficiency, it is recommended to increase the intake of foods that contain the needed vitamin, take vitamin oral supplements, or even inject the vitamin directly into the bloodstream in the most extreme cases.

Vitamin B History

The history of the discovery of Vitamin B started in 1889 when Christian Eijkman, a Dutch physician, observed a difference in the diet of people affected by Beriberi; a disease which symptoms include weakness and confusion.

He noted that those sick consumed refined rice as a main component of their diet.

In 1906, Frederick Gowland Hopkins, an English biochemist, realized there were “accessory food factors” affecting the variations in growth of certain animals.

Later, in 1911, Casmir Funk, a Polish biochemist, coined the term “vitamin” to refer to those underlying substances required to maintain health.

In 1926, Barend Jansen and Willem Donath, Dutch chemists, were able to isolate crystals of the anti-Beriberi factor from what was left of rice refinement and Eijkman used it to successfully treat the disease in birds.

This was the first vitamin to be isolated: Thiamine, or vitamin B1.