What are the Different B Vitamins?

Diana Bocco

The B vitamins are a group of eight water-soluble nutrients essential to the optimal functioning of the body. The B vitamins are also known by their individual names or by denominations such as B1, B2, etc. For optimal results, it is ideal to consume the B vitamins as a group, rather than individually, although supplementation of certain B vitamins may be necessary in certain cases, as they do not accumulate in the body and cannot be stored for later use. The B vitamins include:

Beans, which are a good source of B1.
Beans, which are a good source of B1.

Niacin is important in preventing mental confusion and other mental health problems.
Niacin is important in preventing mental confusion and other mental health problems.
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Necessary for the health of the nervous system, energy production, and physical strength. A lack of this vitamin may lead to beriberi, a disease that causes weight loss and limb weakness.

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Essential for skin health, a riboflavin deficiency may lead to extreme sun sensitivity, dermatitis, and cracks in the lips.

  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Also known as Vitamin P over the past few years, vitamin B3 is one of the most controversial B vitamins, as many experts claim it should be considered as a separate nutrient. Niacin is essential for mental health, and is especially important in the prevention of mental confusion and memory loss.

  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): Essential to metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Deficiencies are extremely rare.

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxamine): Helps in the production of red blood cells and maintains cardiovascular health. B6 is also related to skin health, which makes it a desired nutrient for people suffering from psoriasis and other skin conditions.

  • Vitamin B7, (Biotin): Essential for growth, especially in infants. In adults, B7 is essential for the synthesis of fatty acids and to maintain blood sugar level. Biotin is now being studied as a complementary treatment for diabetes patients.

  • Vitamin B9 (Folic acid): Folate is one of the most common B vitamins, and it can be found in most green vegetables, dried beans, and fortified grains such as certain breads and cereals. Although no definitive studies have been done, B9 seems to be effective at helping prevent heart disease and anemia.

  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): B12 is essential against anemia. Because it aids in the production of red blood cells, B12 alone can reverse anemia even more effectively than iron.
Vitamin B2 is essential for skin health.
Vitamin B2 is essential for skin health.
Vegans may experience a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vegans may experience a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Most whole grain breads have high levels of vitamin B7, which is typically referred to as biotin.
Most whole grain breads have high levels of vitamin B7, which is typically referred to as biotin.
Consuming too much vitamin B3, B6 and B9 from supplements can be harmful.
Consuming too much vitamin B3, B6 and B9 from supplements can be harmful.
Oranges and other citrus fruits tend to be good sources of folate.
Oranges and other citrus fruits tend to be good sources of folate.
High doses of niacin may cause fatigue.
High doses of niacin may cause fatigue.

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Discussion Comments

softener

@Sequoia - You're actually much better off seeking out foods which contain Vitamin B and cutting out foods that deplete it as opposed to relying on food supplements. That means avoiding processed foods and refined sugar and replacing it with oats, wheat bran, barley, salmon, avocado, etc.

That's not to say that multivitamins are entirely useless however; if you're struggling to change your diet they're better than nothing. Just make sure you know what you're taking. Look for vitamins with the names of herbs and foods on the label as opposed to chemicals you've never heard of. Good luck!

Sequoia

My lips are constantly dry and cracked and someone suggested to me it might be because of a Vitamin B deficiency. Should I just take Vitamin B2 or should I take one of those Vitamin B Complex supplements which has them all?

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