B Complex Vitamins Sources and Benefits

In This Article

Table of Contents


  • B1 (Thiamine)

  • B2 (Riboflavin)

  • B3 (Niacin)

  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

  • B6 (Pyridoxine)

  • B7 (Biotin)

  • B9 (Folic Acid)

  • B12 (Cobalamin)

  • Uses 

  • Side Effects

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A B complex vitamin usually delivers eight of the B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). Found naturally in meat, leafy greens, dairy, beans, peas, and whole or fortified grains, B complex vitamins help your body make energy from the food you eat, form red blood cells, and play an essential role in certain bodily functions. Take a closer look at the benefits, signs of deficiency, and food sources for each of these B complex vitamins.

benefits of B vitamins

B1 (Thiamine)

Health Benefits

  • Helps the body use carbohydrates from food to produce energy
  • Needed for the health of the brain, muscles, and nervous system
  • Critical for the growth, development, and function of cells in the body

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weight loss
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Cardiovascular symptoms
  • Irritability
  • Beriberi

Food Sources

Common food sources of vitamin B1 include fortified breakfast cereal, enriched and whole grain products (bread, breakfast cereals, rice, noodles, and flour), wheat germ, pork, trout, black beans, mussels, and tuna.

B2 (Riboflavin)

Health Benefits

  • Works with other B vitamins (helps convert B6 into a usable form and aids in niacin production)
  • Helps convert food into energy
  • Needed for red blood cell production and growth
  • Keeps the eyes, nervous system, and skin healthy

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Skin disorders
  • Swelling of the mouth and throat
  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • Swollen, cracked lips
  • Hair loss
  • Sore throat
  • Sensitivity to light.

Food Sources

Common food sources of vitamin B2 include milk and dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, beef liver, clams, portobello mushrooms, almonds, and chicken.

B3 (Niacin)

Health Benefits

  • Aids in the conversion of food into energy
  • Helps enzymes in the body function properly by helping the body use other B vitamins and make and repair DNA (the genetic material found in all body cells)
  • Needed for the production of hormones, such as sex and stress hormones
  • Helps with the function of the digestive and nervous systems and skin

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Digestive problems
  • Canker sores
  • Fatigue
  • Inflamed skin
  • Poor circulation
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Pellagra

Food Sources

Common food sources of vitamin B3 include eggs, fish, fortified bread and cereal, rice, nuts, milk and dairy, chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, organ meats, peanuts.

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