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What do the individual B vitamins do?


Senior Member
B1 (Thiamine)
What It Does: Vitamin B1s primary purposes are metabolizing carbohydrates, facilitating the release of energy from food, and assisting cardiac and nervous system functions. Its also been known to strengthen the immune system, reduce stress, neutralize free radicals (thus helping to prevent premature aging and senility), and stave off polyneuritis (the inflammation of multiple nerves at once).

Which Foods Include It: brown rice, egg yolks, wheat germ, brewers yeast, oatmeal, bran, bean sprouts, soybeans, cashew nuts, lean pork

B2 (Riboflavin)
What It Does: Vitamin B2, riboflavin, packs a serious punch in terms of its benefits. It plays an essential role in energy production by helping us metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and in the formation of red-blood cells and antibodies. In addition, it ensures proper development of our reproductive organs, tissues, eyes, nervous system, and mucous membranes; regulates thyroid activity; strengthens our antibodies; prevents acne; protects the digestive tract; and helps treat nervous-system conditions such as Alzheimers, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.

Which Foods Include It: The most significant sources of riboflavin are dairy products, brewers yeast, and liver. Others include seafood, such as mackerel, eel, shellfish, salmon, and herring; lean meat; mushrooms, broccoli, avocados, dark leafy greens, and asparagus; millet and wild rice; dried peas, sunflower seeds, and beans.

B3 (Niacin)
What It Does: Vitamin B3, also known as niacin or nicotinic acid, is a crystalline substance that occurs naturally in various plant and animal tissues. Its especially helpful in improving circulation and lowering LDL cholesterol while raising levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Niacin is necessary for the formation of red blood cells, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels. It also supports the central nervous system, and high doses have been known to regulate mood. Finally, it keeps the stomach and intestinal tract working smoothly and, like its brethren, assists our bodies in metabolizing carbs, protein, and fat.

Which Foods Contain It: meat, poultry, fish, liver, kidneys, eggs, nuts, peanut butter, brewers yeast, wheat germ

B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
What It Does: Vitamin B5 is a master synthesizer; it facilitates the formation of fats, proteins, amino acids, and antibiotics. Doctors have touted its ability to keep the human heart ticking steadily, and to sustain healthy blood pressure levels. B5 also enhances our immune system and our physical stamina, spurs DNA reproduction, and keeps the hormones that cause stress and anxiety in check. But perhaps its best-known function of all is its contribution to skin health, particularly in warding off signs of early aging.

Which Foods Contain It: mainly mushrooms, collard greens, cabbage, salmon, broccoli, and legumes; also soybeans, molasses, milk, and cheese

B6 (Pyridoxine)
What It Does: The superstar of the B complex, vitamin B6 supports more bodily functions than any other vitamin. Acting as a coenzyme for a number of systems, its what enables our bodies to metabolize amino acids, most notably in the intestines. Without it, serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline, among other chemicals, could not form. When taken in conjunction with vitamins B9 and B12, it reduces levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which contributes to heart disease and stroke. Its also used for the treatment of sideroblast anemia and even PMS.

Which Foods Contain It: white meat, spinach, carrots, peas, eggs, sunflower seeds, walnuts, brewers yeast, wheat germ, whole-grain (but not enriched) breads and cereals

B7 (Biotin)
What It Does: Like vitamin B5, biotin plays an integral role in skin, hair, and fingernail health. It helps develop and repair muscle tissue and nervous-system tissue, reduces cholesterol, maintains normal blood-sugar levels and enables the human body to better adapt to insulin, synthesizes fatty acids and amino acids, and catalyzes metabolic reactions to optimize our energy level. And because it reduces surplus fat, doctors often recommend that their overweight patients eat a B7-rich diet.

Which Foods Contain It: milk, liver, kidney, egg yolks, fish, brown rice, potatoes, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, soybeans, brewers yeast

B9 (Folic Acid)
What It Does: Folic acid is most readily recognized for its amazing benefits to pregnant women: its known to prevent birth defects by assuring normal development of the fetuss neural tube and protecting against pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, low birth weight, miscarriage, and premature birth. Any woman whos of childbearing age and even thinking about starting a family someday should include folic acid in her daily arsenal of supplements. But this wonder vitamin also may play a part in lowering the risk of stroke, heart disease, some types of cancer, and even Alzheimers, so its a good idea for both sexes to take it.

Which Foods Contain It: lentils and black-eyed peas; whole-wheat bread, pasta, and tortillas; asparagus, beets, broccoli, and brussels sprouts; tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, raspberries, avocados, and bananas

B12 (Cobalmin)
What It Does: Working with vitamin B6 and folic acid, cobalmin is an effective treatment for high levels of homocysteine, the amino acid whose buildup can cause heart disease. It helps red blood cells form and regenerate, and aids our bodies in manufacturing DNA and RNA. Its also reputed to combat male infertility, pernicious anemia, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and chronic fatigue syndrome, among other conditions. And on the neurological front, its been shown to fight sleep disorders, memory loss, and depression.

Which Foods Contain It: sea vegetables, such as kelp, komba, and nori; some fish, including mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna, cod, sardines, trout, and bluefish; oysters, clams, and mussels; crab and lobster; certain cheeses, like Swiss, mozzarella, parmesan, and feta; beef and lamb; eggs

Via http://www.divinecaroline.com/22175/96629-b-list-b-vitamins-essential/3#ixzz1p5rOaDwU


Formerly PWCalvin
This is good stuff, Gavman. Have you seen any discussions of risks and signs of taking too much vitamin B? What little I've read indicated that B vitamins are fairly safe, but I haven't spent much time looking into it yet.


Senior Member
Excellent, my doc sent something similar about a year ago. The only thing she's warned me about is getting too outta balance. For instance, if you take too much niacin or riboflavin for long periods of time without having some of the other B's, it can be overwhelming to the system and create imbalances. Whereas short term high dose B's, such as using high dose niacin for strep, is fine. The idea being, they all work together to make the system work more efficiently and while you'll pee out much of the extra, it can still lead to imbalances in other areas down the line.



Southern USA
Yes, all so very important in the right amount especially. B6 is one to be really careful with. I love them all of course, ha.

I take Benfotiamine, a b1 that is fat and water soluble. It is REALLY good, one of the best things I take for POTS.

Great list.


Senior Member
If someone is deficient in one area, i think a good way to balance it is to take a b vitamin complex and then add the other to hopefully rebalance that way. Most that i've come across would suggest B3 (niacin) and B6 (pyridoxine) as areas to watch the upper intake of. B6 more so due to SSRIs and creating serotonin. I think the more obvious danger is in the balancing act, if you take too much folic acid while your b12 is low and it depletes it, thats when potential problems arise. Its important to do your research, once you've found out a mineral/nutrient that is indicated in you, look for cofactors or antagonists.

For instance, B6 is indicated to be taken for anxiety and/or depression, yet it might not be the B6 but low B2 as Riboflavin is further needed to activate vitamin B6, helps to create niacin and assists the adrenal gland. I've been told by numerous therapists about how useful B vitamins are in dealing with stress and breaking down foods but because i had a crap b vitamin solution, i didn't realise how improved i would feel on it. Its done wonders for my blood flow and i'm developing more awareness of my lower legs (I was heavily indicated in not having enough B2)

From Wikipedia:
B3 Toxicity warning: Intake of 3000 mg/day of nicotinamide and 1500 mg/day of nicotinic acid are associated with nausea, vomiting, and signs and symptoms of liver toxicity. Other effects may include glucose intolerance, and (reversible) ocular effects. Additionally, the nicotinic acid form may cause vasodilatory effects, also known as flushing, including redness of the skin, often accompanied by an itching, tingling, or mild burning sensation, which is also often accompanied by pruritus, headaches, and increased intracranial blood flow, and occasionally accompanied by pain.[8] Medical practitioners prescribe recommended doses up to 2000 mg. per day of niacin, usually in time release format, to combat arterial plaque development in cases of high lipid levels.[9]

B6 Toxicity: Intake of more than 1000 mg/day is associated with peripheral sensory neuropathy; other effects are unconfirmed: dermatological lesions [causal association is unlikely]; B6 dependency in newborns [causal association is also unlikely].[10]

B9/Folic Acid: Masks B12 deficiency, which can lead to permanent neurological damage.