Vitamins of group B: where they are found in the diet and what happens if we are deficient

 In recent years there has been an increasing attention to the health aspects of nutrition and to the functional effects that different nutrients can exert on the organism. In the context of the new "food patterns", the role of micronutrients, such as vitamins and mineral salts, remains fundamental.

Vitamins are essential substances for survival : they contribute to the production of red blood cells, to the maintenance of immune defenses, to the good health of the nervous structures and to the energy metabolism. The B vitamins, in particular, play a fundamental role in the functioning of the nervous system (B1, B3, B6, B12, folic acid), the immune system (B6, B12) and energy metabolism, as well as to maintain balance some functions of the organism such as the growth and integrity of skin and mucous membranes.

As water- soluble vitamins , that is to say they dissolve in water, the B vitamins cannot be accumulated by the body but must be taken daily through food. However, there are conditions that make it difficult to reach the daily requirement.

Hence the possibility of taking supplements, always after talking to the doctor. Vitamin B and B12 supplements in orodispersible films are the new frontier in oral delivery systems developed with IBSA FilmTec ™ technology. Made up of a flexible and ultra-thin sheet of the size of a postage stamp (50-150 microns thick), the new patented formulation has the advantage of dissolving rapidly in contact with saliva, ensuring a precise and uniform concentration of the active ingredients and facilitating the at the same time taking supplements under any circumstances and under different conditions.

We asked Dr. Lucilla Titta , Nutritionist and Researcher at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan, to explain why B vitamins are particularly important and what is the correct diet to take them.

Why are B vitamins and their function important?

B vitamins play an essential role in the functioning of the nervous system (B1, B3, B6, B12, folic acid ), the immune system (B6, B12 ) and energy metabolism, as well as maintaining some body functions in balance such as the growth and integrity of skin and mucous membranes.

What are the most important B vitamins for women?

It is important to reach the daily requirement of all the B vitamins, however particular attention should be paid to the consumption of folate, in particular to vitamin B9 which has a fundamental role in the growth and reproduction of cells and for the formation of the central nervous system in embryo and fetus. Furthermore, vitamin B9 intervenes in the transformation of tryptophan into the neurotransmitter serotonin, in the synthesis of DNA and in the metabolism of amino acids.

What foods are they found in?

Foods rich in vitamin B6 are cereals, nuts, potatoes, peas, lentils, green leafy vegetables. Vitamin B9 is present in many green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, but also in oranges, legumes and cereals. Vitamin B12 is present in all foods of animal origin, even in minimal quantities. In particular, it is found in meat, fish, liver, milk, eggs. In nature there are no plants or vegetables that contain quantities of vitamin B12 capable of satisfying the daily needs of humans.

Is there a difference between a woman of childbearing age and a woman in menopause in the assimilation of vitamin B?

Already after the age of fifty the organism undergoes a progressive atrophy of the gastric mucosa which can lead to a malabsorption of vitamin B12, therefore the simple progress of age can represent a risk factor for the deficiency of this vitamin. While with regard to women of childbearing age, there is now numerous scientific evidence on the need to support the need for vitamin B9, better known as folic acid, both before and during pregnancy. This vitamin is, in fact, essential for the development of the child's nervous system, prevents anemia  and neural tube defects (spina bifida) and reduces the risk of congenital heart disease.

Let's go towards the summer: what should we pay attention to?

Summer offers many occasions for the consumption of fresh and raw vegetables that well preserve their content of water-soluble vitamins, such as the B vitamins, otherwise easily dispersed in cooking.

What are the symptoms of a possible deficiency?

The symptoms can be the most diverse: small cuts on the sides of the mouth, dry skin, hair weakness, fatigue and cramps up to neurological disorders. It is therefore essential, depending on age and type of diet, to consult your doctor for the dosage of vitamins in the blood and thus identify any deficiencies.

In addition to nutrition, how can we supplement the B vitamins?

Through the use of food supplements recommended by your doctor or nutritionist.


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