Vitamin B Explained
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Vitamin B Explained

A look at all the B vitamins, their names and what they do as well as food stuff containing B vitamins. What happened to vitamin B4, B8, B10 and B11 explained.

All vitamins are a letter; A, C, D and so on and originally vitamin B was thought to be a single vitamin and was given that letter. It was then discovered that B is indeed a total of eight different vitamins making up the one B complex, which is why there are numbers after each B vitamin.

The vitamins in the B complex are water soluble vitamins that aid our metabolism, help keep skin, hair and muscle tone, boost the immune and nervous system, promote cell growth, help build red blood cells, and are believed to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.

The fact they are water soluble means they are sent round the body, but also means they can be lost in urine and need replacing.

A few things add to the confusion surrounding B vitamins and one is that some products are labelled with the name of the vitamin while yet others have the B number. Another mystery is what happened to vitamins B4, B8, B10 and B11, which are never mentioned in food stuff. The reason for this is again due to a misconception, as they were once believed to be vitamins but later were discovered not to be. B4 is adenine, B8 is adenosine monophosphate, B10 is para-aminobenzoic acid and B11 is pteryl-hepta-glutamic acid.

There were also a large number of other B vitamins, 13 – 22, and Bm, Bt, Bx and quite a few others.

A doctor once described B vitamins as; “they are a team and work best as a team”, and this says it all. Each one will do something on its own, but taken together they do so much more.

In 1905 William Fletcher, an English Doctor, was working on the cause and cure of a disease called Beriberi when he discovered eating unpolished rice averted this illness while polished rice did not. He came to the natural conclusion; the husk of rice contained something important. This was the beginning of the discovery of what later became known as vitamins.

The first vitamins were isolated and considered “amines” and in 1911/2 a Polish scientist, Cashmir Funk, added the Latin word for life “vita” as a suffix to indicate these were “vital amines”. The final “e” was dropped, along with the double “a” in the middle for ease of use, and vitamins had their name.

B complex names and numbers:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3(niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamins)

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Comments (7)
Ranked #10 in Healthy Living

Very informative

liked +s tweeted

Excellent and informative presentation

Nice. Like all the good info.

Very interesting and informative. Like the coupon for Swanson's too - my favorite source for vitamins

Ranked #2 in Healthy Living

Well-written and entirely pack info on B vitamin.

A lot of great information that I never knew.