The Ultimate Guide to 13 Vitamins - Water Soluble Vitamins

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

- Written by Nutritionist Ng Sheng Xin

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored by the body. Since they are eliminated in urine, they need to be replenished regularly in our diet. The water-soluble vitamins include the vitamin B-complex group and vitamin C.


Vitamin B

The B vitamins are a group of eight nutrients, each with unique roles in keeping the body healthy.


Vitamin B complex is composed of eight B vitamins:

  • B1 - Thiamin

  • B2 - Riboflavin

  • B3 - Niacin

  • B5 - Pantothenic Acid

  • B6 - Pyridoxine

  • B7 - Biotin

  • B9 - Folic Acid

  • B12 - Cobalamin


Vitamin B1 - Thiamin


Benefits

  • Enables body to use carbohydrates as energy

  • Plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function

Dietary Sources

  • Unrefined and unprocessed grains

  • Yeast

  • Beef / Pork

  • Pulses

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Loss of appetite

  • Muscle weakness

  • Tingling sensation in limbs

  • Fatigue

  • Reduced reflexes

  • Beriberi

  • Swelling at legs

Risk of Overdose

Evidence does not confirm any harm from too much vitamin B1. High dose of vitamin B1 may affect its absorption rate.


Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin


Benefit

  • Enables body to use carbohydrates, protein, and fats as energy

Dietary Sources

  • Dairy products

  • Whole grains

  • Nuts

  • Eggs

  • Almonds

  • Yeast

  • Dark green leafy vegetables

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth

  • Mouth ulcer

  • Red and cracked lips

  • Inflammation of the tongue

  • Skin problem

Risk of Overdose

Evidence does not confirm any harm from too much vitamin B2, excess of it will be excreted through urine.


Vitamin B3 - Niacin


Benefits

  • Breaks down carbohydrates, protein, and fats to supply energy for the body

  • Keeps the skin and nervous system healthy

Dietary Sources

  • Liver

  • Lean meat

  • Nuts like peanut

  • Legumes

  • Egg

  • Fish

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Fatigue

  • Dementia

  • Diarrhea

  • Dermatitis (inflamed skin)

  • Can be fatal if left untreated

Risk of Overdose

Supplemental dose exceeds 35mg/day cause flushed skin.


Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid


Benefits

  • Enables body to utilize carbohydrates, protein, and fats as energy

  • Maintains a healthy skin and hair

  • Helps in the formation of red blood cells

  • Maintains a healthy nervous system and liver

  • Produces sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands

Dietary Sources

  • The bacteria in our intestine can produce this vitamin

  • Royal jelly

  • All types of meat and animal organs

  • Whole grains

  • Seafood

  • Dairy products

  • Egg yolks

  • Legumes

Symptoms of Deficiency

Production of aldosterone, a type of hormone that is secreted on the adrenal gland, is decreased, which can have an impact on our blood pressure.


Others are fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, nerve damage that can cause burning feet, and impaired muscle coordination like muscle pain or muscle spasm.


Risk of Overdose

Evidence does not confirm any harm from too much vitamin B5.


Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine


Benefits

  • Turns carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy

  • Helps in the formation of red blood cells

  • Helps to create neurotransmitters that regulate emotions

Dietary Sources

  • Banana

  • Poultry

  • Fish

  • Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals

  • Chickpea

  • Potato

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Anemia

  • Tingling, numbness, and pain in the limbs

  • Mood swings

  • Weakened immune system

  • Seborrheic dermatitis

Risk of Overdose

Nerve damage and pain or numbness in the limbs and loss of control of body movement if supplementation of Vitamin B6 exceeds 100mg/day.


Vitamin B7 - Biotin


Benefits

  • Turns carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy

  • Supports the healthy growth of the hair and nails

Dietary Sources

  • Bacteria in intestine is able to produce this vitamin

  • Organ meat

  • Cooked whole egg

  • Yeast

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Fatigue

  • Hair loss

  • Brittle nails

  • Scaly

  • Red rash

  • Impaired immune function

Risk of Overdose

Evidence does not confirm any harm from too much vitamin B7, excess of it will be excreted.


Vitamin B9 - Folic Acid


Benefits

  • Helps form healthy new red blood cells

  • Crucial for DNA synthesis and repair

  • Reduces the risk of neural tube defects (NTD)

Dietary Sources

  • Spinach

  • Organ meat

  • Egg

  • Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals

  • Whole grains

  • Papaya

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Megaloblastic anemia

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Retarded growth

  • Infants may suffer from neural tube defects (NTD) during pregnancy

  • Increase the risk of getting cardiovascular disease

Risk of Overdose

Maximum supplementation of folic acid is set at 1000mcg as high dose of folic acid may mask vitamin B12 deficiency, but overall there is no cause for concern as it can readily excreted from the body.


Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin


Benefits

  • Helps in the formation of red blood cells

  • Crucial to normal function of the brain and the nervous system

  • Helps to create and regulate DNA

Dietary Sources

  • Only exist in animal foods

  • Vegetarian or vegan individuals could get from shiitake mushroom, nori, yeast and vitamin B12-fortified food

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Pernicious anemia

  • Megaloblastic anemia

  • Weakness

  • Lethargy

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet

  • Loss of appetite

Risk of Overdose

No toxic or adverse effects have been associated with high intakes of vitamin B12 from food or supplements.


Vitamin C


Benefits

  • Synthesis of collagen and carnitine

  • Acts as an antioxidant

  • Improves iron absorption

  • Boosts the immune system

  • Enhances wound healing

Dietary Sources

All fruits and vegetables, potato and sweet potato

Maximum intake of vitamin C is 2000mg/day

Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Scurvy

  • Bleeding gums

  • Loosen teeth

  • Slow healing of wound

  • Anemia

  • Easy bruising

  • Poor immunity

Risk of Overdose

Overdosing through supplementation may cause diarrhea, gastrointestinal discomfort, kidney stones formation, increased iron absorption leading to iron overload, which can cause serious damage to the heart, liver and pancreas, reduce vitamin B12 status and erosion of dental enamel.

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