The Energy Vitamin: Why B Vitamins are important for our health
Vitamins are essential for the human body to function correctly. Today, vitamin deficiencies are still incredibly common. Major surveys over the years have reported that as many as 6% of those aged under 60 living in the UK and the US are deficient in Vitamin B12 1 . While folate deficiency is as high as 20% in women of reproductive age in countries with lower income economies, compared to 5% in high income ones 2 .
For many, lack of an adequate diet and access to good nutritious sources of food are the main causes of these deficiencies. However, there are some people who are unable to absorb vitamins tirely through diet alone – particularly B12 and folate. At biomega ® , our purpose is to make a positive impact on the world, so incorporating B Vitamins into our solutions is one way of making a difference to consumers’ diet. Yet to understand why B vitamins are so important for our health, we need to first look at what each one does.
How many B Vitamins are there?
There are eight B Vitamins all available in a range of everyday foods we consume on a daily basis – and many of them help to break down food and release energy in the body. Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine, keeps the nervous system in good shape, while Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) are known to keep skin healthy 3 . .Vitamin B5’s (Pantothenic acid) main function is to help the body release energy from food, where it helps to synthesise and metabolise fats and proteins, and Vitamin B7 (Biotin) is only necessary in small amounts to help the body make fatty acids 4 . .
Yet perhaps the most important of the B Vitamins are B6 (Pyridoxine), B9 (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamin), mainly due to their support in developing healthy red blood cells and carrying oxygen around the body. As the relationship between these three vitamins are so intricately intertwined, there can be potentially disastrous consequences to an individual’s nervous system and cognitive function if a deficiency is found in later life, or indeed in infancy.
Vitamin B6, Folate and Vitamin B12 deficiencies explained
According to the NHS healthcare service in the UK, a B6 deficiency is often naturally found in those who are deficient first in B12 or Folate. This is because malabsorption of B12 can lead to lower levels of Folate, and in turn, B6. While many who suffer from B12 deficiency are through diet alone, such as vegans and vegetarians who choose not to eat meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs, there are others who simply cannot absorb B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor. This autoimmune disease, known as Pernicious Anaemia – which attacks and has the potential to destroy gut cells – affects an estimated 151 per 100,000 adults in the US 5 and is the most common condition of B12 deficiency through malabsorption. It is perceived that up to 15% of the general population has Vitamin B12 Deficiency 6 .
When an individual is deficient in B12, a gradual onset of symptoms occurs, such as fatigue and tiredness, as well as loss of neurological and cognitive function. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has ruled that B12 has a central role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and foods that support at least 15% of daily recommended intake of Vitamin B12 can claim to reduce tiredness and fatigue, contribute to normal homocysteine metabolism, and contribute to normal neurological and psychological functions7.
B12 and folate work together in synergy to make red blood cells. Should an individual be deficient in B12, the body’s stores of folate – usually found in foods like leafy green vegetables, chickpeas and kidney beans – cannot be used effectively. In South Asia, where women of reproductive age are at risk of developing B12 deficiency, poor neurodevelopment in young children has been found. In a 2017 study, which measured Vitamin B12 levels in children aged five, it was concluded that low B12 had an adverse effect on social perception tasks and visuospatial abilities8.
Due to studies like this, it is now recommended that pregnant women take a 200mg supplement of folate every day in the first trimester. This helps to reduce the risk of birth defects, like spina bifida, in unborn babies9.
B Vitamins through diet and supplementation
All B Vitamins can be naturally found in many animal foods like poultry, pork, liver and fish. One of the best nutritional sources of Vitamin B12 is found in salmon. A half fillet of cooked salmon can contain around 208% of the daily value of B12 required10. Unfortunately, many consumers are failing to reach the adequate intake through diet alone.
As manufacturers of salmon peptides and oils, biomega® is well equipped to assist brands in helping consumers supplement their diets with solutions that deliver an excellent source of B12. Our 100% water soluble SalMe Peptides are produced by way of continuous enzymatic hydrolysis to preserve the functional and nutritional values of salmon. This makes them high in Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and other important micronutrients such as taurine.
As a powdered ingredient, SalMe Peptides are incredibly versatile and can be used in many different applications, such as soups, juices and gummies. Perfect for consumers that require a quick energy boost during the day!
For more information on how biomega® can support your formulation requirements or to learn more about the benefits of SalMe Peptides, contact our sales team today.
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center, University of California, Davis, 2008.
2 . Rogers, Lisa M, et al. «Global folate status in women of reproductive age: a systematic review with emphasis on methodological issues.» Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences vol. 1431.1 (2018): 35-57. doi:10.1111/nyas.13963
3,4,9 . NHS UK, Vitamin B. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/ Accessed on 15.11.23.
5. National Institutes of Health, USA, Vitamin B12. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/ Accessed on 15/11/2023.
6. Harvard, School of Public Health. Vitamin B12 . .https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/ . Accessed on 15.11.2023.
7. EFSA, Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin B12. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1756
8. Ingrid Kvestad et al, Vitamin B-12 status in infancy is positively associated with development and cognitive functioning 5 years later in Nepalese children, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 5, 2017. https://doi. org/10.3945/ajcn.116.144931.
10. Food Data Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175168/nutrients. Accessed on 15.11.23.