Organic Vitamin B: What You Were Not Aware Of
Organic, natural or synthetic vitamin B is not just one vitamin. It is a family of water-soluble vitamins, each with its own job to do. The B vitamins are thiamin or B1, riboflavin or B2, niacin or B3, pyridoxine or B6, folate, cobalamine or B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. There are good organic sources for all the B vitamin family, ranging from meats to fruits and vegetables.
The B vitamins are absorbed in your gut and are able to quickly pass into the bloodstream for distribution to cells throughout your body. Most the B vitamins are not stored in your body. Excesses are excreted in urine. This means that deficiencies of most the B vitamins can develop quickly. The jobs of the B vitamins range from helping to create your DNA to assisting in your energy metabolism. If you don’t get enough from your food, organic vitamins are available.
Thiamine, Vitamin B1
Energy metabolism is a main function of this B vitamin, which also helps with the function of nerves that prompt muscle movement. The government’s Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) is 1.2 milligrams daily for men and 1.1 mg for women. Rich sources include organic lean pork, enriched grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. Just one ounce of cooked pork tenderloin contains more than half the daily need for thiamine. A cup of dried organic sunflower seeds contains most of a day’s requirement, and just one ounce of dried macadamia nuts have about a third of your daily need. Deficiency of this B vitamin can cause a disease called “beriberi,” with symptoms such as weakness, disorientation and a fast heartbeat.
Riboflavin, Vitamin B2
Riboflavin also plays a role in releasing energy from the foods you eat. Its DRI is 1.3 milligrams for men and 1.1 milligram for women. The best organic sources are milk and dairy products, but meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dark green leafy vegetables are rich sources. A cup of cooked broccoli contains about a third of the daily requirement. One eight-ounce glass of organic 1% milk also has about a third of the daily need. An ounce of broiled beef tenderloin has about 20 percent of the daily requirement.
Niacin, Vitamin B3
This is another B Vitamin involved in energy metabolism. It can be measured in units called niacin equivalents (NE). But the DRI is 16 mg and 14 mg for women. Good organic sources include meats, poultry, legumes, whole cereal and milk. One ounce of roast turkey, with skin, contains most your daily needs. Deficiency symptoms for B3 include muscle weakness and indigestion. Severe deficiency leads to a disease called pellagra, with symptoms including dementia, diarrhea and a scaly skin rash. You might not know this, but you can harm your health by taking too much vitamin B3. In large doses, it can cause skin flushing. Very high doses, from consuming too much in supplements, can harm your liver.
Pyridoxine, Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps metabolize amino acids and proteins, are needed for proper functioning the nervous system and has a role in making hemoglobin, the molecule that moves oxygen in your blood. Its DRI is 1.3 mg daily for adults under age 70. After 70, the DRI is 1.5 mg for women and 1.7 for men. Good organic sources include whole grains and cereals, legumes and poultry. An ounce of cooked chicken thigh or a cup of brown rice each have around 20 percent of the daily B6 requirement. An ounce of dry roasted sunflower seeds has about 20 percent of the daily need. B6 deficiencies lead to metabolic abnormalities, and especially show up in skin and the nervous system. Symptoms include weakness and undersized red blood cells without enough hemoglobin
B Vitamin Folate
Several similar compounds make up folate, which is crucial for making red and white blood cells, amino acids, your very DNA and one part of hemoglobin. It is also needed for spinal cord development in fetuses. The DRI for adults is only about 400 micrograms per day, because some folate is stored in the body. Good sources include organic leafy green vegetables, legumes and foods containing ascorbic acid, such as oranges. A cup of cooked lentils contains close to half a day’s need and half a cup of cooked spinach has about a third. A deficiency can cause anemia.
Cobalamine, Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a group of cobalamine compounds. They help move, store and activate folate, and play a role in the metabolism of fatty and amino acids. Because B12 is stored in your liver, the RDI for adults is a mere 2.4 micrograms per day. Organic animal products are good sources, like meat, dairy and eggs. An ounce of broiled ground lamb almost contains the entire daily requirement. A B12 deficiency disrupts cell division, causes pernicious anemia and eventually damages the nervous system. Older people are more at risk for pernicious anemia because their stomachs make less of a substance called intrinsic factor, which is needed for your body to absorb B12.
Biotin: A Little Bit Will Do It
Your body can’t make biotin but you need it to metabolize fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The adult RDI is 30 micrograms per day. Breastfeeding women need five extra micrograms. A deficiency is almost unknown in the United States because biotin is widely distributed in foods. Organic sources include milk, peanut butter, egg yolks and a few vegetables.
This vitamin makes up part of an enzyme needed to turn food into energy. It’s found in all living things, so a deficiency is extremely rare. The RDI is five milligrams, which you can get in organic whole grain cereals, legumes, meat and poultry.