Vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy body and mind, and since they often work in tandem and because each has its own set of benefits, it is impossible to single out one as the most important. For example, while vitamin D helps create strong and healthy bones, vitamin E helps with blood circulation. While one cannot say that one is more important than the other, people with weak bones but healthy blood circulation will benefit more from the former than the latter. The B vitamins, on the other hand, perform some of the functions of the other vitamins, but they’re particularly essential in a healthy metabolism and preventative care such as lowering the risk of strokes and heart attacks. There are eight B vitamins, each with their own set of health benefits. These vitamins are abundant in whole or fortified grains, green vegetables, meats, and dairy products, among others. The benefits of each of the B vitamins are briefly discussed below.
Thiamine helps the body to create healthy new cells and helps to break carbohydrates down into sugars. It is therefore essential in boosting the body’s immune system and converting food into energy. It also aids in the normal functioning of the nervous system. A lack of thiamine will result in beriberi, which affects the heart, nervous system, and digestive system.
Riboflavin acts as an antioxidant in the body and combats particles that damage cells. It stimulates red cell production, helps to prevent early ageing, and prevents heart disease. Some studies, like those by the National Institutes of Health, suggest that it also prevents headaches and migraines. Like thiamine, riboflavin also helps to break down carbohydrates.
Niacin boosts HDL (good) cholesterol, which lowers levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol, thus decreasing the risk of heart attacks. It also helps combat skin conditions like acne. A shortage of niacin causes pellagra, a disease that includes a range of mental and physical difficulties such as dementia and diarrhoea.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Pantothenic Acid helps to break down fats and carbohydrates and convert them to energy. It promotes healthy skin and stimulates healthy growth, and also plays a vital role in the biochemical reactions in the body, such as the production of hormones.
Pyridoxine is involved in more than 100 cellular reactions in the human body and therefore plays an important role in various bodily functions. It improves one’s mood and sleep patterns through the production of hormones. Studies also suggest that it reduces inflammation. A shortage of pyridoxine can result in physical conditions like anaemia and rashes, and mental conditions like confusion and depression.
Biotin helps with the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and also promotes healthy hair, nails, and skin. It also helps to control high blood glucose levels and for pregnant women it is essential for the normal growth of the baby.
Folate helps to combat depression and also promotes good memory. For pregnant women, it also prevents neurological birth defects. Folate is also vital during pregnancy and for the healthy growth of babies.
Cobalamin works with folate to produce red blood cells and promotes the functioning of iron in the body. A B12 shortage can result in fatigue, loss of appetite, constipation, and anaemia. It also promotes a healthy nervous system, therefore a shortage can result in depression, dementia, and confusion. Cobalamin is only found in animal products, so vegetarians will need to get this vitamin from dairy products and vegans will need to take a supplement to get the vitamin.
A good balance between the B vitamins (and other vitamins and minerals) is essential for a healthy body and mind. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, people should have a healthy intake of all the B vitamins, instead of just a small sub-set in order to preserve brain health. This can be achieved with a balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables, dairy products, eggs, meats, grains, seeds, nuts, etc. Some people, especially lower-income and rural people in South Africa, unfortunately do not have access to all these foods, or they only have access to some, which can lead to a deficiency of some of the essential vitamins and minerals. Nhlayisa Power Supply instant porridge offers affordable products that are enriched with not only B vitamins, but all the vitamins, as well as minerals and nutrients such as calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, and selenium; all of which will ensure a healthy body and mind at a fraction of the cost and effort of some healthy foods.