People constantly ask about the different B vitamins and what they do. So I decided to make a list of all of them and briefly explain their purpose. B vitamins are absolutely essential for a healthy body and mind. In general B vitamins are water soluble, meaning they are not retained in the body like calcium and vitamin D over long periods of time. B vitamins have to be taken daily and they should be taken in small doses combined together. ( 1 )
Following is the list of all the B vitamins and their purpose:
B1 is known Thiamine.
B1, thiamine, helps form blood cells; increase metabolism to burn carbohydrates; digest food; regulate brain function; and shrink blockages in artery walls. ( 5 )
B1 is found in the following foods: beans, lentils, chickpeas, brown rice, nuts, whole grains; eggs, fish, and poultry. ( 5 )
Dieting and alcohol abuse can cause B1 deficiency. (6 ) The foods listed to have B1 tend to cause weight gain, and even inflammation. As a result many people tend to avoid eating them. Abstaining from these foods will result in weight loss, and unfortunately a B1 deficiency. As for Alcohol consumption, according to the National Academy of Sciences, alcohol blocks B1 assimilation and injures intestines. This makes nutrient absorption difficult. ( 6)
B2 is also called Riboflavin.
B2 produces energy that breaks down and uses fats, carbs, and proteins. It forms red blood cells; make antibodies; and promotes human cell growth. It also improves the reproduction system; regulate thyroid function; and make healthy skin, nails, and hair. ( 2; 5)
B2 is found in whole grains, soybeans, green vegetables, beef liver, beef heart, beef kidneys, milk, cheese, fish, eggs, and fortified cereals. ( 6 )
A deficiency in B2 can result in weak finger and toe nails that crack easily; premature wrinkling; weak eye sight; dry lips, inflammation in the mouth; liver disease; skin lesions; anemia; and nerve dysfunction. (5 )
B3 is also called Niacin
B3 serves various important functions. B3 is needed for proper digestion function. It rids the body of toxins and chemicals. It regulates blood pressure. It produce enzymes needed to speed up the production of energy by breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It improves circulation, and reduces cholesterol level. ( 2; 5)
Niacinamide is derived from niacin. It treats migraine headaches osteoarthiritis, sleeping disorders, muscle aches, and rheumatoid arthritis. (5 )
Foods containing B3 are, nuts, dairy products, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, enrich breads and cereals, beets, broccoli, carrots, beef liver, and beef kidney. (6 )
The lack of B3 causes, muscular weakness, lack of appetite, red skin rashes, and other skin problems. A B3 deficiency also results in indigestion, anemia, dementia, some mental health problems. (5 )
B5 is know as Pantothenic Acid.
It can prevent heart disease. It lowers cholesterol as niacin does. It helps wounds to heal. It produces dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which is needed to reduce anxiety and stress. (5 )
B5 food sources are crimini mushrooms, sweet potatoes, peas, beans , tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, corn , broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, grapefruit, dairy products, poultry, beef liver, and beef kidney.( 6)
B5 deficiency may lead to fatigue, anxiety and depression. (5 )
B6 is known as Pyridoxine.
B6 produces, antibodies which fights diseases. It normalizes nerves. It makes sure oxygen is carried throughout the body and prevents anemia. It breaks down protein. It regulates the blood sugar. (5 )
Food with B6 are meat, whole grains, chicken, nuts, beans, and fruit. (6 )
B6 deficiency causes confusion, irritability and depression ( 5). Too much B6 can cause headache and numbness in limbs ( 3).
B7 is Biotin.
B7, biotin, increase the body’s metabolism to breakdown and use fat, proteins, and carbohydrates. It strengthens toe and fingernails. It strengthens the hair too, preventing breakages and premature graying. B7 stabilizes the blood sugar level in diabetics. It also corrects certain skin disorders, skin rashes, and help skin heal quickly. (4 )
Foods that are a source of biotin are beans, grains, cauliflower, chocolate, eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy products, nuts, poultry, bananas, mushrooms ( 4; 6). Avoid processed foods. Food processing takes biotin from the food (4 ).
Biotin deficiency result in hair loss, anemia, muscle pain, and dermatitis (4 ). Eating raw egg whites can prevent biotin absorption (4). Egg whites have a protein that attaches to biotin and keeps it from being absorbed into the body’s system ( 4).
Also anti-seizure medication can cause a biotin deficiency by preventing the body from absorbing it. ( 4)
B9 is known as Folic Acid. According to the British Dietetic Association B9, it is needed to make and repair DNA and RNA. It induces speedy cell division and growth. It yields healthy red blood cells. B9, folic acid, prevents birth defects in the brain and spinal cord of babies. It also improves memory on both adults and children. (5 )
Sources of Folic acid, B9, are dark green vegetables, egg yolk, lentils, beef kidney and liver, papaya, kiwi, milk, oranges, fortified bread and cereal, and parsnips. (6 )
B9 deficiency result in weakness, forgetfulness, irritableness, weight loss, and appetite loss; other risks are heart attacks, stroke, stomach cancer, depression, and low bone density. (5 )
B12 is known as colalamins.
It forms an active metabolism like all the other B vitamins, and it promotes a healthy central nervous system. B12 also improves digestion, circulation, and absorption over other vitamins and minerals. (3;5 )
B12 is found in meat such as beef, turkey and chicken; it is also found in shell fish, such as oysters and clams and in fish, such as salmon and sardines. ( 6)
B12 deficiency results in tiredness, breathing trouble, nervousness, diarrhea, numbness, tingling in the hands and feet. ( 5)
This is just a brief over view of all the B vitamins and their functions. I suggest taking a B complex daily, since B vitamins are water soluble and cannot be stored by the body. A vitamin B deficiency can cause serious health problems. Talk to your doctor about what dosage is best for you. Also to more detail study about B vitamins.
(1) Whitney, N; Rolfes, S Crowe, T Cameron-Smith, D Walsh, A (2011). Understanding Nutrition. Melbourne: Cengage Learning. Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
(2) Gropper, S; Smith, J (2009). Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
(3) University of Maryland Medical Center (2012). “Vitamin B” Retrieved 16 September 2012.
(4) University of Bristol (2012). “Biotin” Retrieved 17 September 2012.
(5) “Chapter 8 – Folate”. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin and Choline. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
(6) National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board., ed. (1998). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. pp. 58-86.