B vitamins are a group of nutrients that play many vital roles in the body. Most people get the recommended amounts of these vitamins through the diet alone as they are found in a wide variety of foods.
However, factors such as age, pregnancy, dietary choices, medical conditions, genetics, drug and alcohol consumption increase the body’s demand for B vitamins.
In these circumstances, a B vitamin supplement may be required.
We will introduce you to the eight vitamins of group B, their roles in the body and their benefits for athletes.
Types of Vitamin B:
B vitamins are soluble in water, which means that your body does not store them. For this reason, your diet must provide them every day.
B vitamins have many essential functions and are essential for maintaining good health. They usually contain the following:
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Thiamine plays an essential role in metabolism by helping to convert nutrients into energy. The richest food sources are pork, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Riboflavin helps convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant. The foods richest in riboflavin include beef and mushrooms.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Niacin plays a role in cell signalling, metabolism, production and repair of DNA. Food sources include chicken, tuna and lentils.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Like other B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps your body get energy from food and is also involved in producing hormones and cholesterol. Liver, fish, yoghurt and avocado are all excellent sources.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine is involved in the metabolism of amino acids, the production of red blood cells, and neurotransmitters’ creation. The foods richest in this vitamin include chickpeas, salmon and potatoes.
Vitamin B7 (biotin)
Biotin is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and it regulates gene expression. Yeast, eggs, salmon, cheese and liver are among the best sources of biotin.
Vitamin B9 (folate)
Folate is necessary for cell growth, amino acid metabolism, the formation of red blood cells and white blood cells, and proper cell division. It is found in foods such as leafy vegetables, liver and beans, or in supplements in the form of folic acid.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
Perhaps the best known of all B vitamins, B12 is vital for neurological function, DNA production and the development of red blood cells. B12 is found naturally in animal sources such as meats, eggs, seafood and dairy products.
Although these vitamins share specific characteristics, they all have unique functions and are needed in different amounts.
Why are B vitamins essential for athletes?
While it is essential to ensure that you meet the daily needs of the entire group of B vitamins because of the large number of roles they play, thiamine, riboflavin and B12 are essential in the production of energy and red blood cells from food.
These are essential processes for athletes because we need energy to power and recover workouts and enough blood cells to carry oxygen to the active muscles.
Here are the main advantages of a B vitamin complex:
- Better conversion of carbohydrates and proteins in energy for the body
- Faster cell repair and production (better recovery)
- Increased natural production of hormones, including testosterone
- Increased number of red blood cells carrying oxygen in the body
- It helps reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL)
Should you take a B vitamin supplement?
If you eat many fruits, vegetables and different sources of animal products, supplementation is not necessarily necessary.
However, there are times when you might want to include a Multivitamins that meets or exceeds the recommended daily intake of B vitamins, for example, if you try to lose weight, to dry (because your overall food intake can be reduced), or if you have periods of high training volume where you spend large amounts of energy over several weeks.
Current research suggests that exercise may increase riboflavin and vitamin B6 requirements, while data on folate and vitamin B-12 are limited. Athletes who have a poor diet, especially those who limit energy intake or eliminate food groups from the diet, should consider supplementing themselves with a B vitamin complex.