B vitamins – what is it, benefits and side effects!

The B vitamins are a set of nine water-soluble vitamins with important action in cellular metabolism and for the health of the body. In the past, vitamins, as they are known, were thought to be a single vitamin, called vitamin B. Later, research showed that they were chemically distinct vitamins that coexist in some foods.

What are B vitamins?

Vitamin B complex  is composed of micronutrients, namely: Vitamin B1 (or Thiamine), B2 (or Riboflavin), B3 (or Niacin), B5 (or Pantothenic Acid), B6 ​​(or Pyridoxine), B7 (or Biotin) , B9 (or Folic Acid), Vitamin B11 (or Carnitine) and B12 (or Cobalamin). The more we exercise, the greater the demand for these nutrients, so be sure to include them in your routine.

What are B vitamins used for?

In general, they are very important to prevent various diseases, such as anemia, weakness in nails and hair, fetal malformation, fatigue, baldness, depression, mental confusion, arthritis, allergies, insomnia and lack of energy.

What are the B vitamins?

B vitamins are  water soluble and are not produced in sufficient quantities by the human body, so they must be acquired through food. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6 have mutually complementary functions and need each other to carry out their functions in the body.

Vitamins B12 and B9 do not require the presence of the former, but they also complement each other’s functions. See the benefits, problems caused by the lack and sources of each vitamin in the B complex. The main ones are:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine):

Vitamin B1 , also known as thiamine, is responsible for regulating energy expenditure and stimulating appetite.

Problems caused by the lack: 

A lack of vitamin B1 in the body can cause a tingling sensation in the body, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, lack of appetite, weakness, constipation, swelling in the legs and feet, drowsiness and lack of attention and memory.

In addition, vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to the development of Beriberi disease, which is a disease of the nervous system characterized by decreased sensitivity and muscle strength, paralysis and heart failure, for example. Learn more about this disease.


Vitamin B1 can be found in foods like brewer’s yeast, wheat germ and sunflower seeds, for example. Discover other foods rich in vitamin B1.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavina):

Vitamin B2 has strong antioxidant action and therefore acts by fighting free radicals. In addition, it acts on the metabolism of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids, that is, it helps the body to use these substances efficiently.

In addition, it also plays an important role in the formation of the myelin sheath, which surrounds the nerve fibers and allows messages between the nerves, among the B vitamins  the most important for the nervous system is vitamin B12.

Problems caused by the lack: 

Vitamin B2 deficiency is rare, but vegetarians, alcoholics, children, pregnant women and the elderly are more vulnerable to the problem. A lack of this nutrient can cause dizziness, vertigo, seborrheic dermatitis, inflammation of the lips and tongue, and itchy eyes.


The main sources of vitamin B2 are meat (liver), milk, eggs, legumes, vegetables, especially broccoli, whole grains, pulses such as peas, some oilseeds such as peanuts, chestnuts and walnuts, and avocado and brewer’s yeast.

Vitamin B3 (Niacina):

As with much of the benefits of B vitamins , one of the main functions of niacin – as vitamin B3 is known – is to help convert food into energy. Vitamin B3 allows fats and carbohydrates to be turned into fuel for cells.

One of the main benefits of Vitamin B3 is to act on cholesterol levels, helping to increase the concentration of HLD (good cholesterol) in the circulation. Niacin also contributes to the formation and maintenance of cells in the nervous and blood system. Adequate levels of niacin are also critical for the proper functioning of the digestive and nervous systems.


Vegetables, eggs, milk, red meat, beans and yeast.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid):

Known as the “anti-stress” vitamin, vitamin B5 plays a role in the production of adrenal hormones and the formation of antibodies. The use of vitamins helps in the conversion of lipids, carbohydrates and proteins into energy. This vitamin is needed to produce vital steroids and cortisone in the adrenal gland and is an essential element of coenzyme A. A lack of it causes hair and hair loss, in addition to producing a feeling of malaise and weakness.


The main sources of vitamin B5 are eggs, milk, meat (guts), pulses such as peas and beans, mushrooms and wheat germ.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine):

Vitamin B6 is important for the production of red blood cells. It also acts on the metabolism of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids, that is, it helps the body to use these substances efficiently.

In addition, the nutrient plays an important role in the formation of the myelin sheath, which surrounds the nerve fibers and allows messages between nerves and in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, among the B vitamins,  the most important for the nervous system is b12 vitamin. Vitamin B6 allows the synthesis of glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant.

Problems caused by the lack: 

Inadequate levels of vitamin B6 can compromise the conversion of glutamate, the neurotransmitter that excites thorium, into GABA, the relaxing neurotransmitter. A nutrient deficiency can cause seizures in young children, anemia, dermatitis, nerve damage, mental confusion in adults, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.

Anemia can also happen due to a lack of vitamin B6 . Excessive alcohol consumption can also decrease vitamin B6 levels, as can contraceptive use. However, food can replace the lack of the nutrient and it is important to consult a doctor or nutritionist to find out if there is a need to consume the supplement.


The best sources of vitamin B6 are fish such as tuna, salmon, trout and herring, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, corn and whole grains, pulses, cauliflower, bananas, melons. and raisins.

Vitamin B7 (Biotina):

Vitamin B7 , known as biotin, is considered the beauty vitamin. That’s because she is able to improve and skin  and hair. It is very good for diabetes control.


liver, egg, pork, fish, potatoes, cauliflower, nuts.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid):

Vitamin B9 participates in the formation of red blood cells and is essential for the growth and reproduction of all cells in the body.

Problems caused by the lack: 

canker sores, tiredness, muscle weakness, headache, leg pain and memory impairment.


dark green vegetables, beans, peas, offal, meat, seafood, eggs, brewer’s yeast, beef liver, potatoes, nuts, pork, chicken, broccoli, cabbage and fortified foods.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine):

Vitamin B12 also known as cobalamin, storage of the vitamin occurs to a greater extent in the liver and to a lesser extent in the kidneys, being released when needed to the bone marrow and other body tissues.

It is essential for the functioning of cell metabolism, especially those of the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow and nervous tissue. It participates in protein metabolism and is associated with the absorption of folic acid.

Problems caused by the lack: 

The causes of vitamin deficiency can be classified into three categories: reduced absorptive capacity, increased needs and insufficient consumption. The most evident manifestation of the deficiency is pernicious or megaloblastic anemia, caused by the malabsorption of B12, which may be accompanied by neurological alterations.


Useful links: 

Foods rich in vitamin B12 are those of animal origin, such as dairy products, meat, liver, fish and eggs.

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