How much do you know about B vitamins? The B vitamin complex is a family of vitamins that share similar roles in the body. Yet each one has unique properties that supports the function of the other vitamins. They work synergistically as a team to ensure that your health and wellbeing is protected. This means that you need every one of these vitamins in your diet to ensure you are at the peak of your health throughout life.

Knowing about some of the most important B vitamins can help you to ensure you meet your nutritional needs on a regular basis. Knowledge is power, so it’s time to study up on your B vitamin knowledge!

Vitamin B12.

When you think of B vitamins, what comes to mind? Perhaps one of the most well-known B vitamins is Vitamin B12. So it wouldn’t be surprising if this was the first B vitamin you thought of!

As one of the most important of the B vitamins, B12 plays many different important roles within the body. It helps to ensure that your skin, nails, and hair are kept in good condition. Healthy skin and hair ensure a youthful appearance of general wellbeing. The main reasons why B12 is so good for skin is because it ensures normal and regular renewal of skin cells.

If you want to look after the health of your brain and cognitive function then B12 is essential. Especially in later adult life, looking after your cognitive health is essential to your wellbeing. The risk of Dementia or Alzheimer’s increases greatly as you age if you don’t get enough B12 in your diet. Not only does this B vitamin look after your nervous system, but it also prevents brain shrinkage, loss of brain cells, and mental illness.

Do you have high cholesterol, or a risk of high cholesterol? It can be quite a worry! High cholesterol can lead to strokes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. So naturally managing and lowering your cholesterol levels is important. B12 can help to control cholesterol levels in the blood stream whilst protecting the heart itself against the threat of strokes.

Other health benefits of Vitamin B12 include helping to prevent certain types of Cancer from spreading in the body. It is thought that B12 can help to protect you from Breast, Lung, Colon and Prostate Cancer, although research into this in the early stages. Finally, B12 also is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose, which means it helps your body produce and use energy.

One of the most common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency is Anaemia.

The value of B12 to cognitive health does not just concern brain mass and function. It also supports good emotional and mental health. It has been noted in various studies that patients suffering from Depression and chronic Stress often have a significant lack of Vitamin B12 in their diet.

Men who want to ensure sexual and reproductive wellbeing need Vitamin B12. B12 helps to keep your sperm count high. Poor digestive health is also a risk. Constipation and weight loss are repeated symptoms. Some people with extreme B12 deficiency can also report vision impairment, oral soreness, and ongoing fatigue. Getting Vitamin B12 regularly in your diet is a good way to ensure your wellbeing is protected throughout life. Deficiency is rare when you regularly get Vitamin B12 in your diet. Otherwise a supplement will more than ensure your protected wellbeing.

For people who don’t eat a lot of meat or animal products, Vitamin B12 deficiency can be a big problem. All the main sources of this B vitamin come from animal products, such as milk, egg, cheese, liver, and lean meats. If you eat any of these foods on a regular basis, then you probably are getting enough B12 in your diet. Having just one or two animal based products a day can ensure you get a regular dose of Vitamin B12 for your health needs. Vegetarians and vegans who eat little or no animal products need to consume fortified foods on a regular basis. Breakfast cereals, plant milks, breads, and other food products can be fortified with artificial B12 that is animal free. Make sure you consume a lot of these fortified products on a regular basis, or take a good supplement with B12.

Vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 was a subject of extensive research as early as the 1930s, making it one of the most well understood B vitamins around. It has a great variety of chemical forms, such as pyridoxal, Phosphate, and pyrodoxine. All these different chemical forms make Vitamin B6 widely available.

Vitamin B6 was originally known as ‘Antidermatitis factor’, where ‘dermis’ refers to the scientific name for skin.  . More specifically, ‘Dermatitis’ is a skin condition characterized by inflammation. B6 won the name ‘antidermatitis factor’ because early research indicated that it was essential for preventing this condition. In fact, a Vitamin B6 deficiency in the diet can directly cause dermatitis. To this day Vitamin B6 is used in skin creams to treat a range of common skin conditions.

So what does Vitamin B6 do for your body? Well one of its primary and most important functions is in the formation of new cells. This makes Vitamin B6 a key player in the maintenance and regeneration of body tissues, such as skin.  Asides from this you need Vitamin B6 to look after your nervous system. It ensures proper reactions of the nerves to stimuli. Finally, if you want to ensure your blood stays healthy then you need this particular B vitamin. B6 prevents the build-up of homocysteine in the blood, and aids oxygen and nutrient transportation in the blood.

Asides from Dermatitis, a range of other common and irritating skin conditions can be linked to a Vitamin B6 deficiency. Eczema is often linked to a lack of Vitamin B6 in the diet. The healing and regeneration of tissue cells is an important aspect of Vitamin B6, so a deficiency can slow these processes down significantly.

As Vitamin B6 is essential for a healthy nervous system, getting too little of it in your diet can increase your risk of convulsions, seizures, and other nervous system malfunctions. In terms of cardiovascular health, too little B6 can lead to Anaemia. More generally, B6 deficiency is noticeable because of fatigue and paleness.

Now that you know about the importance of Vitamin B6, how can you make sure you get enough of it? The best way to do so is to ensure you eat a variety of Vitamin B6 rich foods on a regular basis. Cereals grain and legumes are excellent food sources. Fish and shellfish contain a notable amount of B6, and are preferable to meat sources such as poultry or liver. Dark leafy green vegetables and some fruits can also help you to meet your daily B6 needs.


Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, is a well-known nutrient. Needed for many different functions in the nervous system, it is also essential for the conversion of glucose into energy, a function shared with Vitamin B12.

Thiamine has a variety of roles, and is particularly important to the most important systems of the body. These include muscular, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. A Thiamine deficiency can potentially lead to a condition known as ‘dry beriberi’, which is characterized by nerve degeneration, poor limb coordination pain in the calf muscles, and nerve tingling.  At the same time, ‘wet beriberi’ is caused by lack of Vitamin B1, but affects the cardiovascular system. It may lead to an enlarged heart, swelling, and even heart failure.

Further symptoms of Thiamine deficiency include mental confusion, ‘wet brain’ or Wekicke-Korsakoff syndrome, poor limb coordination, and muscle weakness. It has been noted that a high consumption of alcohol or white rice can greatly increase your risk of Thiamine deficiency. In particular, ‘wet brain’ can be caused by a combination of excessive alcohol intake and Thiamine deficiency.

The best food sources of Vitamin B1 can be found in various different types of seeds. Nuts are also good option, and like seeds can be used to top soups, salads, and cereal. Other plant options include legumes, yeast, and whole meal grains or cereals. Pork is one of the few animal products known to contain much Thiamine. Including a range of these Thiamine foods in your weekly diet can ensure that your body has the reserves of Vitamin B1 that it needs to function at its best.

Other B Vitamins.

Now that you are aware of Vitamin B12,B6 and Thiamine, what about the others? There are even more B vitamins that are almost as essential as these three. Not many people realise it, but Folate is a type of B vitamin as well. Essential for pregnant women, this vitamin prevents birth defects. Asides from Folate you also need Biotin, Pantothenic acid, Niacin and Riboflavin. Getting the most out of B vitamins means getting them all in the right amounts. Making sure you don’t miss out a single B vitamin in your diet can help to prevent any risk to your wellbeing.