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Vitamin B Vitamin B
Must be REPLACED daily!

"DID You Know"
Vitamin B is NOT just one vitamin but a collection of eight water soluble vitamins that make up what is call VITAMIN B Complex!


What is Vitamin B?

Vitamins are organic compounds in food that are needed in very small amounts for various metabolic processes and other functions. The vitamin B-complex is a collection of eight water soluble vitamins.

Although present in many foods, the B-group vitamins are delicate and easily destroyed, particularly by alcohol and cooking (B vitamins tend to leak into cooking water). Food processing also removes the B vitamins, making white flours, breads and rice less nutritious than their wholemeal counterparts.

The body cannot store most of the B-group vitamins (except B12 and folate, which are stored in the liver). They need to be consumed EVERY DAY.

Where does Vitamin B come from?

The B-group vitamins

The eight B-group vitamins are:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Folic acid (folate)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin).

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

Thiamin helps to convert glucose into energy and has a role in the development of red blood cells and the maintenance of muscle tissue. More information about thiamin:
  • Good sources of thiamin - these include wholemeal cereal grains, seeds (especially sesame seeds), legumes, wheatgerm, watermelon, yeast and pork. In Australia, white flour is also fortified with thiamin.
  • Thiamin deficiency - is generally found in countries where the dietary staple is white rice. Deficiencies in the Western world are generally caused by excessive alcohol intake and a very poor diet. Symptoms include: depression, irritability, headache, lethargy, fatigue and weakness.
  • Beriberi - this is caused by thiamin deficiency and affects the cardiovascular, muscular, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. As well as the above symptoms, a person with 'dry' beriberi may have: nerve degeneration, nervous tingling throughout the body, poor arm and leg coordination, and deep pain in the calf muscles. Symptoms of 'wet' beriberi include: an enlarged heart, heart failure and severe oedema (swelling).
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome - this syndrome is a rare thiamin-deficiency disease associated with alcohol excess and a thiamin-deficient diet. Alcohol reduces thiamin absorption in the gut and increases its excretion from the kidneys. The disease is characterised by involuntary movement of the eyeball, paralysis of the eye muscle, staggering and mental confusion.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Riboflavin is involved in energy metabolism and supports vision and skin health. More information about riboflavin:
  • Good sources of riboflavin - these include milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, wholegrain breads and cereals, egg white, leafy green vegetables, meat, liver and kidney.
  • Riboflavin deficiency - people at risk of deficiency include those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol and those who do not consume milk or milk products. Riboflavin deficiency is usually seen along with other B-group vitamin deficiencies. Symptoms include: inflamed tongue (painful, smooth, purple-red tongue), cracks and redness in the tongue and corners of the mouth, anxiety, inflamed eyelids and sensitivity to light, reddening of the cornea, skin rash.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is essential for the body to metabolise carbohydrates, fat and alcohol to produce energy. It helps maintain skin health and supports the nervous and digestive systems. More information about niacin:
  • Good sources of niacin - these include lean meats, milk, eggs, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, leafy green vegetables and all protein-containing foods.
  • Excessive intake - large doses of niacin in the form of nicotinic acid produce a drug-like effect on the nervous system, and on blood lipids and glucose.
  • Niacin deficiency - the name given to the disease of niacin deficiency is pellagra. People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol or live on a diet almost exclusively based on corn are at risk of pellagra. The main symptoms of pellagra are commonly referred to as the three Ds: dementia, diarrhoea and dermatitis. Other symptoms include: inflamed and swollen tongue, irritability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, weakness and dizziness. This disease can lead to death if not treated.

Pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid is needed to metabolise carbohydrates, proteins and fats. More information about pantothenic acid:
  • Good sources of pantothenic acid - this is widespread in a range of foods, but some good sources include liver, kidneys, eggs, meats, yeast, peanuts and legumes.
  • Pantothenic acid deficiency - this is extremely rare. However, symptoms include: loss of appetite, tiredness, fatigue and insomnia, constipation, vomiting and intestinal distress.


This vitamin is needed for energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism and glycogen synthesis. High biotin intake can contribute to elevated blood cholesterol levels. More information about biotin:
  • Good sources of biotin - these include cauliflower, egg yolks, peanuts, liver, chicken, yeast and mushrooms.
  • Biotin deficiency - biotin is widespread in foods and is only required in small amounts, so deficiency is very rare. Symptoms include: pale or grey skin, cracked sore tongue, depression, hallucination, abnormal heart actions, loss of appetite, nausea, dry skin and scaly dermatitis, hair loss, muscle pain, and weakness and fatigue.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Pyridoxine is needed for protein and fatty acid metabolism, the formation of red blood cells and certain brain chemicals. It influences brain processes and development, immune function and steroid hormone activity. More information about pyridoxine:

  • Good sources of pyridoxine - these include: cereal grains and legumes, green and leafy vegetables, fish and shellfish, meat and poultry, nuts, liver and fruit.
  • Excessive intake - this can lead to toxic levels in the body. Symptoms include walking difficulties and numbness in the hands and feet. Large doses of B6 taken over a long period can lead to irreversible nerve damage.
  • PMT and carpal tunnel syndrome - there is some evidence that vitamin B6 may be useful in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and premenstrual syndrome. Seek advice from a doctor before using large doses of this supplement (above 100mg per day) because of the danger of overdose.
  • Pyridoxine deficiency - people with excessive alcohol intake, women (especially those on the contraceptive pill), the elderly and people with thyroid disease are at particular risk of deficiency. Symptoms include: insomnia, premenstrual tension, anaemia, smooth tongue and cracked corners of the mouth, irritability, muscle twitching, convulsions, kidney stones and dermatitis.

Folic acid (folate)

Folate is needed to form red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. It helps the development of the foetal nervous system, as well as DNA synthesis and cell growth. Women of child-bearing age need a diet rich in folic acid and, if planning a pregnancy, should consider taking supplements or eat fortified foods. This is important to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the baby. More information about folate:

  • Good sources of folate - these include green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, liver, poultry, eggs, cereals and citrus fruits. Many cereal-based foods in Australia, such as bread and breakfast cereals, are fortified with folate.
  • Excessive intake - folate is generally considered non-toxic, although excessive intakes above 1,000mg per day over a period of time can lead to malaise, irritability and intestinal dysfunction. The main risk with excessive folate intake is that it can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency so it is best to consume these two vitamins within the recommended amounts.
  • Folate deficiency - the symptoms include: weight loss, tiredness, fatigue and weakness, folic acid deficiency anaemia (megaloblastic anaemia), and (during pregnancy) an increased risk of a neural tube defect such as spina bifida for the baby. Other symptoms include: depression, mental confusion and fainting, heartburn, diarrhoea or constipation, frequent infections and a smooth red tongue.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is involved in the production and maintenance of body cells, mental ability and the breaking down of some fatty acids and amino acids. Vitamin B12 has a close relationship with folate, as both depend on the other to work properly. More information about vitamin B12:

  • Good sources of B12 - these include liver, meat, milk, cheese and eggs - almost anything of animal origin.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency - this is most common in the elderly, vegans (vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin) and breastfed babies of vegan mothers and is called pernicious anaemia. Symptoms include: tiredness and fatigue, lack of appetite and weight loss, apathy and depression, anaemia, smooth tongue and degeneration of peripheral nerves progressing to paralysis.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor or a qualified dietitian.

Things to remember

  • The B-group vitamins are a collection of eight vitamins essential for various metabolic processes.
  • Most of these vitamins can't be stored by the body and have to be consumed regularly in the diet.
  • Extended cooking, food processing and alcohol can destroy or reduce the availability of many of these vitamins.
  • It is important not to self-diagnose a vitamin deficiency because some vitamins can be toxic if taken incorrectly. See your doctor or dietitian for advice.

Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Everyone needs B-Vitamins and YES you can have deficiencies. B-vitamins are water soluble so they need to be replenished each and everyday to help keep you functioning act optimum levels!

How much should be taken? Are there side effects?

Follow all manufactures direction unless otherwise directed by your physician or qualified health care practitioner.

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