Perhaps you have looked at a B Complex Vitamin and assumed they are just all the same type of Vitamin with a slightly different effect in the body. This would be just partially true. They are linked together because of their commonality but have some definite differences in the role they play as well. So why are these particular substances given a ‘B?’ What makes them similar are three things: they are soluble in water, they have overlap in physiological functions and they can be found in similar natural places for consumption.
First of all it is good to know the names of the Vitamins. Nowadays, with the great detail contained on the sides of the cardboard packaging for supplements and foods, the ‘B’ stipulation is sometimes absent though the traditional name is there.
Here is a list of the Vitamins included in B Complex:
B1 is thiamine
B2 is riboflavin
B3 is niacin
B5 is pantothenic acid
B6 is pyridoxine
B7 is biotin
B9 folate or folic acid
B12 is cobalamin
As a complex most understand the B Complex to assist the body to make energy from the food you eat. It metabolizes your food. This is also what earns them the name of coenzyme. Just in case you see the words on a side of a product, a coenzyme is a substance that works with enzymes to break down chemical compounds. Secondly these vitamins help form red blood cells. There are many sources the B Complex can be found in varying degrees including all the meat variations, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, beans and peas.
Since the B vitamins are soluble in water they break down easily making it necessary to have a constant stream of them for health. Some, like B12 can be stored – this one is taken in by the liver, and used at a later date, but most that are not used on the spot pass out of the body through the urine. This is different than the fat soluble vitamins which do not break down with the same ease in water.