Everything you need to know about B-vitamins


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Each B vitamin is essential to certain bodily functions.

B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 helps the body make new cells.

Food sources: Whole grain foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, rice, noodles, and flour, wheat germ, eggs, beans, and nuts.

B2 (Riboflavin)

This B vitamin is important for red blood cell production and fighting free radicals.

Food sources: Milk and dairy products, nuts, eggs, green leafy vegetables, lean meats, legumes, and milk.

B3 (Niacin)

Helps regulate the nervous and digestive systems and aids in the conversion of food into energy.


Food sources: Eggs, fish, nuts, dairy, lean meats, legumes, and yeast.

B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Breaks down fats and carbohydrates for energy and is responsible for the production of hormones.

Food sources: Vitamin B5 is found in almost all foods, including avocados, broccoli, kale, whole grains, potatoes, eggs, legumes, and meat.

B6 (Pyridoxine)

Helps the body turn food into energy. Vitamin B6 also helps the body fight infection.

Food sources: Potatoes, chickpeas, fruits (except citrus), chicken, fish, and organ meats.

B7 (Biotin)

Involved in the production of hormones.

Food sources: Wheat germ, whole grain foods, egg yolks, fish, milk, mushrooms, nuts, Swiss chard, chicken, and salmon. 

B9 (Folic acid)

This B vitamin helps cells make and maintain DNA and promotes the growth of red blood cells. It also helps to reduce the risk of birth defects.

Food sources: Beef liver, spinach, beans and legumes, asparagus. orange juice, broccoli, peanuts, avocado, dark leafy greens, and salmon.

B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 helps regulate the nervous system and plays a role in red blood cell formation.

Food sources: Fish, beef, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, shellfish, beef liver, and clams.

Possible Side Effects

Although B complex supplements are water-soluble and do not stay in the body for long, large doses of the vitamins in supplement form can cause certain side effects:


  • B3 (niacin): Skin flushing or pain, elevated blood sugar levels, and liver toxicity.
  • B6 (pyridoxine): Nerve damage, skin lesions, worsening of kidney function, and increased risk of heart attack, stroke and death in people with diabetes and advanced kidney disease.
  • B9 (folic acid): Kidney damage, increased insulin resistance in offspring, lower natural killer cell activity in older women, and may be associated with increased risk of some cancers. Can mask the diagnosis of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • B12 (cobalamin): Acne and rosacea in some people.