Vitamin B in general

Scientists and researchers agree that the vitamin B complex is of particular importance for our health. The B vitamins perform many important tasks in the body. They support energy and muscle function, contribute to a healthy immune system and promote cardiovascular health. If you want to have beautiful skin and strong hair, you need enough vitamin B.

Especially during physical, mental and emotional stress, the body consumes a particularly high amount of vitamin B. A vitamin B complex is therefore particularly suitable for people who are often under stress.

Although the B vitamins are grouped together, they are quite different from a purely chemical point of view. All B vitamins are water-soluble but not fat-soluble. A large part of the water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored by the body. So you have to take them regularly to avoid deficiencies.

Vitamin B12 is an exception to this rule. A healthy person has a vitamin B12 store and can thus get by for several months without adequate intake. However, this store is insufficiently filled in most people, so that deficiency symptoms still occur.

Which B vitamins are there?

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
The body has only a small storage capacity for this vitamin, about 30 mg, so a regular daily supply is necessary. B1 is needed in the body for energy metabolism, the nervous system and protein synthesis.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
B2 plays an important role within the carbohydrate, fatty acid and protein metabolism in the cell. B2 has an antioxidant effect, helps with energy production and is responsible for growth and tissue supply.

Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid/Niacin)
B3 is found in foods and supplements in two forms: Nicotinic acid and niacinamide. Both can be converted by the body into the metabolically active form niacin. B3 has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, is responsible with chromium for the formation of GTF (regulates blood sugar levels with insulin), supports cholesterol metabolism and is necessary for the function of over 200 enzymes.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Pantothenic acid plays a central role in energy metabolism in the cell. It is involved in over 100 reactions that influence the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats and thus the build-up of cellular energy. It is also involved in the body's own formation of sex hormones, as well as cholesterol and vitamin D.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
B6 is absorbed from food and converted in the body into its active form coenzyme pyridoxal-5-phosphate. Activation of B6 requires adequate zinc and vitamin B2 status. B6 is essential for the formation of niacin, is essential for the formation of hemoglobin and plays an important role in fat metabolism.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin/vitamin H)
Biotin is an indispensable component of important enzymes in sugar, fat and amino acid metabolism. Important steps in the formation and breakdown of fatty acids depend on enzymes containing biotin and influence the activity of various genetic information.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
Normally, the body stores only small amounts of folic acid, half of which is stored in the liver. Folic acid plays a crucial role in the normal development of the foetus and in the synthesis of structural and functional proteins. Coenzymes containing folic acid are important for the production of DNA during cell growth throughout the body.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
B12 is involved in the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow, is necessary in the conversion of folic acid into its active form and is an extremely important co-factor in the metabolism of the mitochondria (this is where energy production takes place in the cell).

How do B vitamins work together and what deficiency symptoms occur?

The group of B vitamins includes a total of eight vitamins that take on central functions as coenzymes in many metabolic processes. Even though these vitamins are grouped together as the B complex, the eight B vitamins are completely different substances and independent vitamins.

Nevertheless, the vitamins of the vitamin B complex work very closely together. Some B vitamins are needed for the activation of other B vitamins, so that a deficiency of one B vitamin can also impair the effect of another. The lack of individual vitamins, but also an imbalance in the supply can therefore be problematic.

Vitamin B deficiency and symptoms

In view of the versatile tasks of the B vitamins, it becomes clear how important the vitamin B complex is for health. A vitamin B deficiency can cause many complaints. The B vitamins are involved in many processes in the organism. The symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency are correspondingly diverse and often non-specific. For example, a vitamin B deficiency can cause symptoms of the skin, the nervous system or even muscle function.

Possible symptoms of vitamin B deficiency include1,2,3:

  • Headaches (B1)
  • Memory and concentration disorders up to dementia (B1)
  • Dry and inflamed skin (B2 and B6)
  • Loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting (B6)
  • Lack of red blood cells (B12)
  • Damage to the mucous membrane of the mouth and throat (B12)

Click here for the individual B vitamins...

1 Briani C, Dalla Torre C, Citton V, et al. Cobalamin deficiency: clinical picture and radiological findings. Nutrients, 5(11), 2013, 4521–4539 | 2 Gibson GE, Hirsch JA, Fonzetti P, Jordan BD, Cirio RT, Elder J. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and dementia. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1367(1), 2016, 21–30 | 3 Spinneker A, Sola R, Lemmen V, Castillo MJ, Pietrzik K, González-Gross M. Vitamin B6 status, deficiency and its consequences--an overview. Nutr Hosp, 22(1)7–24