Vitamin B: Are You Getting Enough of All Kinds?

  • Reviewed By: Sabrina Felson, MD
    Sabrina Felson, MD

    Sabrina Felson, MD

    Sabrina Felson, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and has practiced at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Manhattan Campus since 2006. She maintains a busy primary practice, caring for close to 1,000 of our nation’s veterans. She supervises New York University internal medicine residents during their ambulatory clinics and instructs medical students on the bedside physical exam. In her role as assistant chief of outpatient medicine, Felson shares responsibility for the smooth operations of the primary care clinic, and to this end she is involved in faculty evaluations, system redesign, and clinic flow. She has developed IT tools used throughout her service network to promote communication with the patient, encouraging appropriate follow-up between visits. Like any true generalist, she is interested in many facets of health care, including veteran homelessness, maximizing the utility of clinical reminders, addiction medicine, diabetes, patient navigation, resident clinics, and, most importantly, taking very good care of patients.

Reviewed on 6/24/2018

To B or Not ...

Adequate B vitamins support energy production and other functions in the body.

You definitely should. Without enough B12 (and folate), for example, you can become tired, weak, constipated, or depressed. And that's just one of the kinds of vitamin B you need. For a big hit of vitamin B12, try clams or beef liver.

Vitamin B6

Lack of B6 may lead to mental confusion and other symptoms.

Without enough of this B, you may get sick more often and feel depressed or confused. You may also get scaly, cracked lips. You only need a small amount of it each day, though, and most of us get that. If you want to make sure, your best bets are chickpeas, tuna, and -- surprise -- beef liver.

B1 (Thiamin)

Alcohol consumption inhibits absorption of vitamin B1.

Your body may not absorb enough of this if you often have more than a few drinks. Without it, you may have weakness, fatigue, and even brain damage. It can also lead to psychosis. So get your B1. Enriched rice, trout, and black beans are good sources.

B2 (Riboflavin)

Beef is a good source of vitamin B2.

Most Americans get plenty of riboflavin. That's a good thing, because a serious lack of it can damage your liver and nervous system. For the most per bite, eat a big plate of beef liver. Can't do it? Milk, yogurt, and beef are good second choices.

B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 helps skin, nerves, and digestion, but it can be harmful in excess.

Niacin helps your digestion, skin, and nerves work the way they should. It also helps change food to energy. You can get it from milk, eggs, rice, and fish. But don't overdo it. Too much can cause liver damage, peptic ulcers, and skin rashes.

B7 (Biotin)

A lack of biotin may make your hair fall out.

A lack of B7 can lead to skin rashes, hair loss, high cholesterol, and heart problems. You can find it in cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas, soy flour, cereals, and yeast.

Folic Acid (Folate)

Folic acid is important for women to protect against birth defects.

This is an important member of the B vitamin family -- especially if you're pregnant, because it can help prevent certain birth defects. Folic acid is the lab version of folate, which is naturally found in foods. Whip up some spinach and black-eyed peas to get some in your diet.

Vitamin B: Are You Getting Enough of All Kinds?

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