Overview of Vitamin B Complex

Foods High in B Vitamins
Foods rich in the B vitamins

Vitamin B, once thought to be a single vitamin is actually made up of eight separate vitamins which are now called vitamin B-complex.

Vitamin B-Complex: Eight Distinct Vitamins

Vitamin B-complex is a blend of eight water soluble vitamins that the body needs each day. These vitamins include:

  • Vitamin B12 - cobalamin
  • Vitamin B6 - pyridoxine
  • Vitamin B5 - pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B1 - thiamine
  • Vitamin B2 - riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3 - niacin
  • Vitamin B7 - biotin, also known as vitamin H
  • Vitamin B9 - folate, also known as folic acid, vitamin B-c and vitamin M

Due to the belief that vitamin B was a single vitamin, it was also believed that the B vitamins shared their functions within the body. However, research has shown that they do not share a common bond and each B vitamin preforms a separate and unique function.

Water Soluble Vitamins

All of the B-complex vitamins are water soluble which means they dissolve in water. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins that are stored in the liver and fatty tissues, the body cannot store water soluble vitamins. It is important to include foods rich in vitamin B in our daily diets as any excess that the body cannot use is eliminated in urine.

Special care should be taken when storing and preparing foods that are rich in B vitamins. Because they are water-soluble, much of the nutritional value can be lost during storage, preparation and cooking. Following a few simple recommendations will reduce the vitamin loss of these foods.

  • Refrigerate produce as soon as you get it home.
  • Use fresh produce within a few days of purchase.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables raw when possible.
  • Cook vegetables for a short time.
  • Use the water from cooked vegetables to soups.
  • Keep milk and milk products away from strong light.
  • Keep grain products away from strong light.

The Benefits of B-Complex Vitamins

The B-complex vitamins are essential for the healthy functioning of the body and are needed for almost every body process including:

  • Converting carbohydrates into glucose
  • Regulating the nervous system
  • Healthy digestion
  • DNA and RNA syntheses
  • Cell reproduction
  • Increased energy
  • A feeling of calmness
  • Stabilization of moods
  • Improved memory

Food Sources of Vitamin B-Complex

The eight B vitamins that make up vitamin B-complex are found together in yeast, liver and cereal germ, such as wheat germ. Various B vitamins are found in a variety of different foods including:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Cereal grains
  • Fortified cereal
  • Legumes
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits


The eight vitamins included in vitamin B-complex are essential nutrients that the body needs to remain healthy.

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Overview of Vitamin B Complex