There are many different types of vitamins that play a multitude of key roles in the body. But, did you know that eight of these vitamins are found in a group called B vitamins?
B vitamins (also known as b-group or b-complex vitamins) are water-soluble vitamins that contribute to different areas in your body. The eight vitamins in this group are B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folic Acid) and B12 (Cobalamin).
With so many vitamins in just one group, it can be hard to keep up with the role of each one. By the end of this guide, you will have a clear understanding of each one, which will help you to figure out if you may benefit from a vitamin B supplement.
Essential B Vitamins Explained
1. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine, also known as thiamin or vitamin B1, helps the body to release nutrients from food. It has also been found to contribute towards the nervous system.
Sources: Vitamin B1 can be found in the foods you eat. It is a vegan-friendly vitamin, most commonly found in peas, bananas, oranges, nuts, and some fortified breakfast cereals. It can also be found in liver.
2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, helps the body to release energy from food. Vitamin B2 also contributes towards keeping your skin, nails, hair and teeth healthy.
Sources: Vitamin B2 can be found in mushrooms and plain yoghurt.
3. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is very similar to vitamin B2. It once again helps the body to release energy from food, as well as keeping the nervous system healthy.
Sources: Excellent sources of vitamin B3 include meat, fish and eggs.
4. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5) is most commonly known for helping the body to release energy from food.
Sources: Vitamin B5 is found in the majority of vegetables. Other great sources include chicken, eggs, mushroom and avocado.
5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is necessary to maintain energy and general vitality. It also helps to ensure the normal functioning of the body’s organ tissues, particularly in old age.
Sources: The great thing about vitamin B6 is that it’s found in such a wide array of foods. This includes some fish, peanuts, oats, bananas and milk.
6. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin (vitamin B7) is needed for the proper metabolism of proteins. It is also necessary for health teeth, bones, hair, skin and nails.
Sources: The bacteria in your bowel are able to make biotin. With this in mind, there’s currently no guidance on whether you need to source additional amounts of the vitamin.
7. Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Folic acid is actually the man made form of vitamin B9. It’s original form is called folate. It helps to maintain cognitive performance and contributes to cell division.
Sources: You can find small amounts of folate in a variety of foods. This includes leafy green vegetables and chickpeas.
8. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
When you hear about B vitamins, vitamin B12 is probably the one that springs to mind. It supports cognitive performance and is needed to keep the nervous system healthy.
Sources: If you eat meat and dairy, you should get all the vitamin B12 you need from your diet. Good sources of vitamin B12 include nori seaweed, tempeh, chlorella.
All of the above information has been sourced from the NHS and approved by the EFSA. Photography by Clay Banks.