B complex

B complex


Key Findings

  • There are eight vitamins in the vitamin B complex: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12.
  • Each of these vitamins plays a critical role in the health and well-being of body and mind.
  • Most people can meet their daily vitamin B needs with a well-balanced diet; however, supplements are readily available for those who need them.

Eight is Enough

Eight crayons in a new box. Eight phases of the moon. Good things come in eights!

Nutrition has its own perfect set of eight: the B vitamins.

The vitamin B complex is a group of eight essential, water-soluble vitamins necessary for good health. On its own, each vitamin provides a wealth of advantages; when they operate together, they act synergistically and can achieve even more.

The vitamins in the B complex are named B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits of each one, and more importantly, what foods we can find them in. You’ve probably read these vitamin names while eating your fortified breakfast cereal, but these vitamins can be found in more natural sources too.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is the first of the B vitamins, and it is responsible for helping the body get energy from carbohydrates. This supplies the needed energy to all body physiological processes. Vitamin B1 also helps the body construct new cells and maintain a healthy brain, nerves and muscles. It helps the body deal with stress, and in so doing keeps the immune system working strong.

Food sources:

  • Whole grain and enriched products
  • Peanuts
  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Wheat germ
  • Trout
  • Beans

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Like B1, vitamin B2 boosts the immune system. It’s an antioxidant, so it helps battle free radicals that can harm cells. Thus, it slows premature aging and the development of heart disease. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in the conversion of food into energy, and it aids in production of new red blood cells and the maintenance of healthy skin, eyes, nervous system and stomach lining. It can reduce acne and muscle cramps.

Food sources:

  • Almonds
  • Dairy products
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Eggs
  • Soybeans
  • Wild rice

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 is well known for the way it increases HDL (good) cholesterol and reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol. Vitamin B3 is also involved in obtaining energy from food. It works with enzymes and other B vitamins to assemble and repair DNA and plays a part in production of stress and sex hormones. It promotes healthy functioning of the digestive system and the nervous system.

Food sources:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Organ meats
  • Red meat
  • Yeast
  • Milk
  • Green vegetables

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

This vitamin can be found in practically every food category. It gets its name from that trait, as pantothen means “everywhere” in Greek. It can be found in practically every food category. Vitamin B5 is involved in the conversion of lipids and carbs into energy, as well as the production of sex and stress hormones in the adrenal glands.

Food sources:

  • Avocado
  • Yogurt
  • Legumes
  • Broccoli
  • Chicken
  • Mushrooms

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 enzyme processes throughout the body, making it a very active vitamin. It is responsible for metabolizing amino acids from the diet. It plays a role in regulating emotions and sleep patterns, forming new red blood cells and hemoglobin, and storing protein and carbohydrates in the muscles and liver as glycogen.

Food sources:

  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cheese
  • Potatoes
  • Non-citrus fruits

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Vitamin B7, commonly known as “the beauty vitamin,” is required for the production of fatty acids as well as the conversion of carbs, lipids and proteins into energy. It is well-known for supporting strong bones, hair and nails. It promotes proper fetal growth throughout pregnancy and may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

Food sources:

  • Barley
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Nuts

Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, is a high-priority nutrient for pregnant women. It is crucial for the baby’s proper growth and development and may also lower the chance of abnormalities in the brain and spine. Vitamin B9 may also be useful in preventing memory loss and avoiding depression.

Food sources:

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Root vegetables
  • Salmon
  • Orange juice

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 works in tandem with vitamin B9 to build red blood cells. It improves the effectiveness of iron to promote production of hemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen through the blood. Vitamin B12 also aids in the metabolism of proteins, the formation of DNA, and the maintenance of healthy nerve cells.

Food sources:

  • Shellfish, including clams
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Organ meats such as beef liver


The vitamin B complex is a nutritional powerhouse of eight essential vitamins. They play vital roles in the body, both individually and in cooperation with each other. B vitamins are found in many foods that make up a well-balanced diet, but can also be taken as supplements as prescribed by a doctor or holistic practitioner.