Vitamin B goes by so many names that it’s hard to remember what’s what. It’s like naming Snow White’s short friends — one always seems to escape your mind. There are quite a few vitamin B names, and they can be hard to keep track of. Well, you’re covered with this quick guide to vitamin B names and functions.
Vitamin B is not a single nutrient. B-complex consists of different vitamins, each playing a role in supporting our health.
What Are the Different B Vitamins?
The B vitamins aren’t always recognizable. They go by other names, like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and biotin. Take a look at the list below to quickly decode which vitamin is which and see what each vitamin is known for.
The B Vitamins
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin, Nicotinic acid)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (Hydroxocobalamin)
Roles of Each B Vitamin
Are you interested in learning more about vitamins and minerals? Vitamin B vitamins are not fat-soluble vitamins. They are water-soluble vitamins… which means your body can’t store them for long and why you should seek them out in your diet.
Find more details on a specific B vitamin below. You’ll learn about vitamin B deficiency, too.
Vitamin B1 – Thiamine
Thiamine has many functions, but helping to process sugars and amino acids is at the top of the list. Turns out, thiamine is only stored for a short while before your body excretes it. Supplements can be added to your diet to make sure you’re getting the right amount of B1.
Sufficient thiamine levels are needed to fend off lactic acidosis, the buildup of lactate in the body.
When vitamin B1 breaks down sugars and amino acids, their parts make other molecules. Your body needs these to function properly.
Now, enzymes help create chemical reactions in your body. But unfortunately, low thiamine levels can result in sluggish enzymatic activity. A deficiency of thiamine can slow down your energy and the reactions that support cell life.1
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps in the making of adenosine 5′-triphosphate (or ATP). This is where the cells in your body get their energy. Riboflavin can help reduce the presence of pathogens in the blood.2
When you’re dealing with a riboflavin deficiency, you may experience symptoms like —
- Itching of the skin
It’s important to get your riboflavin to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Vitamin B3 – Niacin
Niacin plays a pretty significant part in the production of ATP. But, vitamin B3 can do a whole lot more for your body. Vitamin B Niacin helps —
- Break down dietary fats
- Process carbohydrates
- Break down proteins and absorption
- Synthesize carbohydrates and fatty acids
Niacin deficiency can cause some troubling issues. But if you are mindful to include fortified foods, you shouldn’t have a problem. And if you eat a lot of carbohydrates, you’ll really need vitamin B3.
Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid
When it comes to water-soluble vitamins, B5 helps the production of enzymes. These enzymes facilitate fatty acid synthesis, and breakdown is a top priority. Pantothenic acid also helps build and break down cells. Your red blood cells carry pantothenic acid throughout your body for these purposes.5
Don’t worry much about getting vitamin B5… it’s found in many foods. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B5 is about 5 mg per day — for men and women. And pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers… you can up your daily intake to 7 mg to avoid deficiency.
Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine
Water-soluble vitamins like pyridoxine can make a good impact on your health. Vitamin B6 helps maintain nerve health, skin health, and the health of your red blood cells.
Maybe that’s because vitamin B6 is one of the most relied on molecules in the cells of all living things. Vitamin B6 helps to regulate your cellular metabolism.6 Vitamin B6 is also crucial for the production of amino acids.
It can help make serotonin, and dopamine, too.
If you don’t get pyridoxine, you could experience low energy levels. And you’ll want to make sure you get your vitamin B6. Turns out, pyridoxine (like all B vitamins) is water soluble. You can lose a lot of its nutrient power when you urinate.
Vitamin B7 – Biotin
Like its vitamin B sisters and brothers, biotin helps with the breakdown of sugars. That means vitamin B7 is essential for maintaining already-healthy blood sugar levels.
Not only that… biotin absorption is famous for helping to strengthen your hair and nails. When you’re experiencing a biotin deficiency, your hair health, and skin health suffer.7
Vitamin B9 – Folic acid
Vitamin B9 is a big deal for pregnant women and early infancy support. That’s because folic acid is essential for the synthesis of nucleic acids and amino acids.8 These acids are necessary for rapid cell division and DNA replication.
Rapid cell division is crucial during pregnancy and in the production of red blood cells. This is because red blood cells have a rapid turnover rate. But dietary supplements of folic acid-iron may help.9
Vitamin B12 – Hydroxocobalamin
Vitamin B12 can help maintain the health of your neurological brain tissue. Hydroxocobalamin deficiency could cause a loss of nerve sensation or other neurological issues.
Make sure you’re getting calcium, as it’s needed to offset stomach acid for better B12 absorption.11
B12 absorption hinges on a liquid secreted by your stomach known as Intrinsic Factor (IF). B12 deficiency has been associated with compromised eye health. Make sure you take B12 to avoid a higher risk of overall frailty.12
Now you know how important it is to load your diet with various types of vitamin B. But what foods give you the vitamin B you need?
How to Best Get Vitamin B in Your Diet
There are so many ways to get your vitamin B naturally. And now, many foods are vitamin B fortified. This makes it even easier to get the B you need and avoid deficiency.
For thiamine (vitamin B1) look to omega-3 eggs, asparagus, and kale. To find riboflavin, drink up your casein-A2 milk, and feast on mushrooms and spinach. Free-range, grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish are also good sources of riboflavin.13
For niacin, grace your plate with the good fats from wild-caught salmon or avocado. Up your pantothenic acid intake by going for grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken. And leafy vegetables and omega-3 egg yolks can help erase biotin deficiency.
One More Word About Folic Acid
Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are great sources of folate. On occasion, add folic acid to your diet with in-season citrus fruits. But make sure to eat the whole fruit… the juice alone is too sugary.
Vitamin B Round-up
Include leafy vegetables and grass-fed or wild-caught animal proteins in your diet. This should help to provide the B vitamins you need for absorption.
There’s more than one vitamin B. From biotin to niacin to riboflavin, focus on getting a healthy spread. Each vitamin B type can offer specific benefits to help you enjoy a longer and healthier life.