Vitamin Profile-The B Family

The "B" family has 8 official  and four unofficial vitamins
The “B” family has 8 official and four unofficial vitamins


How Many B’s are there?

There are 8 official “B” Vitamins and four that are not officially B vitamins, but aid the B vitamins work better.

The mystery of the numbers…

The numbers for the B vitamins were first used as they were first being discovered in the 1800’s.  As more and more B’s were being found, the system began to get confusing, often because the ones they were discovering turned out to be the same or similar to the ones they already had named, causing phantom numbers.  Today, researchers prefer to use the names for the B vitamins to avoid confusion.


The Official Vitamins

  • Thiamin, B1
    • Supports healthy cells
    • Keeps the nervous system working normally
    • Helps with mental function and alertness
    • Helps convert food into energy
  • Riboflavin, B2
    • Aids the body in releasing energy from food
    • A must for normal growth and development
    • Keeps red blood cells healthy
    • Helps manufacture hormones
  • Niacin, B3
    • More than 50 bodily functions rely on this B to function properly
      • i.e. manufacturing hormones, detoxing
  • Pantothenic acid, B5
    • Helps other B’s to function better
    • Aids in the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates for energy
    • Also helps the body make Vitamin D, some hormones and red blood cells
  • Pyridoxine, B6
    • Helps in the organizing of amino acids to manufacture over 5,000 proteins that your body requires
    • Also helps to make more than 60 different enzymes
  • Biotin, B7
    • Essential in breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into fuel for the body
  • Folic acid, B9
    • Helps cells to grow and divide properly
    • Essential in preventing birth defects
    • Helps manufacture natural body chemicals that control mood, appetite, and how you sleep.
    • Vital to keep arteries open
    • Lowers the chances of heart attack or stroke
  • Cobalamin, B12
    • Helps the body process carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in food into energy
    • Instrumental in creating the protective covering of nerve cells
    • Keeps red blood cells healthy
    • Helps to prevent heart disease

The unofficial B’s

  • Choline
    • Helps store memories
    • Helpful, in some cases, in treating depression
    • May be useful in treating hepatitis
  • Inositol
    • Makes healthy cells membranes and messenger chemicals
    • Helpful, in some cases, for relieving nerve damage from diabetes
  • PABA
    • Stands for Para-aminobenzoic acid
    • Protects your skin from sun damage
  • Lipoic acid
    • Helps the B vitamins
    • Works closely with Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Pantothenic acid in the conversion of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into fuel for the body.
    • Also aids to recycle Vitamin C and Vitamin E

They work as a team…

As co-vitamins, they work as a team to strengthen bodily functions and keep cells, nerves, and hormones in check.  This also presents problems if you are deficient.  They can’t work at their best if you are deficient in one, and at the same time, finding the one your deficient in can be a pain.  Why?  The others will over-compensate to make up for the deficiency.

Could you be deficient?

Before you determine whether or not you are deficient in B vitamins, please go to you professional health care giver.

  • Alcohol Abusers
    • Alcohol blocks your ability to absorb B vitamins
    • Makes you excrete them faster
    • More likely to be deficient in Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine, and Folic acid.
  • Elderly
    • You absorb less B’s as you age
    • Living alone often means that they don’t often eat properly
  • Smokers
    • Tobacco decreases your absorption of B vitamins
  • Chronic Digestive Problems
    • May not absorb enough B vitamins through the intestinal system
  • People on Strict Diets
    • Those on macrobiotic diets or strict vegetarians may not be getting enough B vitamins

Eating Your B’s

  • Thiamin
    • Pork, liver, fish, oranges, peas, peanut butter, wheat germ, beans, and whole grains
  • Riboflavin
    • Milk, dairy products, meat, beans, nuts, green leafy vegetables, avocados
  • Niacin
    • Meat, chicken, fish, beans, peas, peanut butter, milk, dairy products, nuts
  • Pantothenic acid
    • Liver, meat, fish, chicken, whole grains, beans
  • Pyridoxine
    • Meat, fish, chicken, peanuts, beans, peas, bananas, avocados, potatoes
  • Biotin
    • Liver, oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter, milk, salmon, clams, bananas
  • Folic acid
    • Dark-green leafy vegetables, liver, orange juice, beans, avocados, beets
  • Cobalamin
    • Meat, chicken, fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs

Handy tip!

To preserve vitamin B in foods, don’t overcook meat and poultry.  Steam vegetables in as little water as possible.

Watch out!

If you are taking medication for Parkinson’s or epilepsy, B vitamins could interfere with them.  Please, consult your doctor before you start supplementing your diet with B vitamins.

Next month will be a more in-depth look into Thiamin.

Sources for post:

Pressman, Alan H. D.C., Ph. D. C.C.N.; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vitamins and Minerals



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