Vitamin B complex: symptoms B deficiency, function and nutrition

Vitamin B complex is the collective name for all B vitamins. What is vitamin B, what types of vitamin B are there and what are the symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency? Vitamin B complex is the collective name for all B vitamins. The B vitamins are eight water-soluble vitamins that play an important role in cellular cell metabolism. It used to be thought to have to do with a single vitamin and it was referred to as vitamin B, just as people refer to vitamin C. Later research showed that there are different B vitamins that differ in composition and can occur alongside each other in same food. What is vitamin B good for and what are the symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency? Where is vitamin B and in which foods do you find vitamin B? That and much more will be reviewed.
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Which B vitamins are there?
  • Function of vitamin B
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B8 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B11 (folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
  • Vitamin B in food
  • Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) of vitamin B
  • Symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency
  • Vitamin B complex side effects
  • Vitamin B reduces the risk of stroke
Vitamin B / Source: NatchaS /

Vitamin B complex

Vitamin B complex is the collective name for all B vitamins. B vitamins play an important role in cellular cell metabolism and are needed for the storage and breakdown of sugar, fats and proteins. The human body cannot produce B vitamins itself. We have to get them through the food. Too many of these vitamins leave the body in small amounts via the urine.

Which B vitamins are there?

The B vitamins to be distinguished are:
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin);
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin);
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin, nicotinic acid and includes nicotinamide);
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid);
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine);
  • Vitamin B7 (the term 'vitamin B7' is still used abroad to refer to biotin);
  • Vitamin B8 (biotin);
  • Vitamin B11 (folic acid) ¹;
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin).

Every B vitamin has certain properties and plays an important, unique role in the body.

Function of vitamin B

What role do the different B vitamins play in the body?

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

This vitamin: plays a role in releasing energy from carbohydrates.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 plays a role in the release of energy from the carbohydrates, proteins and fats that the body gets through the diet. The vitamin is necessary for the formation of healthy skin, nails and hair growth. This vitamin also plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, which ensure oxygen transport in the blood.

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

This vitamin plays a role in energy production and promotes the functioning of the nervous system.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B5 mainly plays a role in releasing energy from fatty acids.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

This vitamin is important for resistance and digestion. It also plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and it ensures proper functioning of the nervous system.

Vitamin B8 (biotin)

This vitamin contributes to the energy supply for the body and plays an important role in the construction and breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins and the production of fatty acids. Vitamin B8 is also important for healthy skin and hair.

Vitamin B11 (folic acid)

Folic acid is involved in the formation of red blood cells, the development of the brain and spinal cord in a fetus (it is recommended that pregnant women and women with a child wish to take folic acid during pregnancy), it stimulates the formation of stomach acid and it plays a role in a good liver function. Furthermore, folic acid is needed for the metabolism of DNA and RNA. In addition, it is indispensable in the body's cell division processes.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

Vitamin B12: this vitamin is necessary for the production of red blood cells and for an adequate functioning of the nervous system. For absorption into the body, this vitamin depends on a substance called Intrinsic Factor (IF). This substance is made in the stomach. Vitamin B12 is unique in the sense that it is the only water-soluble vitamin that is stored in the body.
Cashew nuts / Source:

Vitamin B in food

In which foods do the B vitamins differ?
  • Vitamin B1: bread and cereal products, potatoes, vegetables, meat and meat products, milk and milk products.
  • Vitamin B2: milk and milk products, as well as in meat, meat products, vegetables, fruit, bread and cereal products. Note: vitamin B2 cannot stand light and therefore milk must always be stored in the dark.
  • Vitamin B3: fish, meat, whole-grain cereals, vegetables, potatoes and cashews. In addition, the body itself makes vitamin B3 from the amino acid tryptophan, which is a component of all proteins in the diet. It is found, for example, in chickpeas, milk, bananas and chocolate.
  • Vitamin B5: fruit and vegetables, meat, whole-grain products, legumes, eggs, milk and milk products.
    Vegetables / Source:
  • Vitamin B6: bread and cereal products, potatoes, legumes, meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, milk, milk products and cheese.
  • Vitamin B8: liver, eggs, milk, soy products, nuts and peanuts.
  • Vitamin B11: (green) vegetables, bread, potatoes, (organ) meat and dairy products. Note: 30 to 80% of the folic acid can be lost when heated.
  • Vitamin B12: this vitamin is only found in animal products such as milk, milk products, meat, meat products, fish and eggs. Vegans have a high risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. They will have to take supplements.

Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) of vitamin B

An overview of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA):
  • Vitamin B1: 1-3 years: 0.3; 4-8 years: 0.5; 9-13 years: 0.8; 14 and older: 1.1; pregnant: 1.4; breastfeeding: 1.7.
  • Vitamin B2: 1-3 years: 0.5; 4-8 years: 0.7; 9-13 years: 1.0; male 14 years and older: 1.5; women 14 years and older: 1.1; pregnant: 1.4; breastfeeding: 1.7.
  • Vitamin B3: 1-3 years: 4; 4-8 years: 7; 9-13 years: 11; male 14 years and older: 17; women 14 years and older: 13; pregnant: 17; breastfeeding: 20.
  • Vitamin B5: 1-3 years: 2; 4-8 years: 3; 9-13 years: 4; 14 and older: 5; pregnant: 5; breastfeeding: 7.
  • Vitamin B6: 1-3 years: 0.4; 4-8 years: 0.7; 9-13 years: 1.1; 14-50 years: 1.5; female> 70: 1.5; male> 70: 1.8; pregnant: 1.9; breastfeeding: 1.9.
  • Vitamin B8: For vitamin B8, an adequate intake (AI) of 4 micrograms per day has been established for the group of babies aged 0-5 months, according to the Nutrition Center. Due to lack of data there are no recommendations for other age groups (source:
  • Vitamin B11: 0 to 5 months: 50; 6 to 11 months: 60; 1-3 years: 85; 4-8 years: 150; 9-13 years: 225; 14-18 years: 300; from 19 years: 300; pregnant women and breastfeeding women: 400 (from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after conception).
  • Vitamin B12: 1-3 years: 0.7; 4-8 years: 1.3; 9-13 years: 2.0; 14 years and older: 2.8; pregnant: 3.1; breastfeeding: 3.5.
Fatigue complaints due to a vitamin B deficiency / Source:

Symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency

The symptoms of deficiency are for the respective B vitamins:
  • Vitamin B1: fatigue; muscle weakness; loss of appetite; irritability; gloomy and depressive; poor memory; tingling sensation in the toes and on the soles of the feet; digestive complaints; nausea; beriberi (a disease in which the cardiovascular system is affected or manifests itself with neurological symptoms).
  • Vitamin B2: skin disorders in the mouth, tongue and nose (inflammation); tongue inflammation and tingling; cracked skin and mucous membrane; eczema on the skin and genitals; burning sensation on the skin; fatigue; insomnia.
  • Vitamin B3: the chance of a deficiency in the west is extremely small. It can occur with alcohol abuse. A vitamin B3 deficiency can lead to pellagra disease or niacin deficiency, which is accompanied by blood diarrhea, flaking skin conditions, skin gaps, loss of appetite, diarrhea with blood and dementia.
  • Vitamin B5: vomiting; cramps; general malaise and fatigue; insomnia; reduced resistance to infections; stomach ache; burning or painful sensation in the feet or toes.
    Stomach pain due to a vitamin B5 deficiency / Source: Andrey Popov /
  • Vitamin B6: disorders of the nerves in the arms and legs; skin problems.
  • Vitamin B8: Nausea and vomiting, whiteness, loss of appetite (= anorexia), skin conditions (dry and flaking), hair loss and depression. Since this vitamin is abundant in foods, a deficiency only occurs sporadically. According to the Netherlands Nutrition Center, you can only be deficient if you often eat a lot of raw eggs, because raw protein contains a substance called avidin, which forms an insoluble complex with biotin (vitamin B8). This substance is inactivated by boiling or frying an egg.
  • Vitamin B11: A deficiency can lead to abnormalities of the red and white blood cells, as well as changes in the bone marrow. It can also lead to a reduced intake of various nutrients in the intestine. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, general malaise and fatigue. In women, a shortage of folic acid at the start of pregnancy can lead to an open back (Spina Bifida) in the baby.
  • Vitamin B12: the body can store a supply of B12, but in the long run a structural deficiency can lead to a form of anemia called 'pernicious anemia' and neurological consequences such as a disturbance in perception or paraesthesia (an irritating, burning or painful) feeling in the fingers), memory loss, insecure gait and coordination problems (ataxia), muscle twitching and muscle weakness in the legs.

Vitamin B complex side effects

What happens if you get more vitamin B than you need? What are the possible side effects of vitamin B complex? Even with large quantities per day where the RDA is amply exceeded, no adverse consequences have been demonstrated since the surplus is peeed out (source: It is therefore difficult to record too much. Nevertheless, avoid doses that are larger than the recommended daily allowances. High doses could eventually lead to all sorts of complaints. For example, with very high doses of vitamin B5, diarrhea can occur. Vitamin B12 is indeed stored in the body, but the body ensures that it is not absorbed too much through the gastrointestinal tract. No significant interactions with other drugs are known for the vitamin B complex. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, you can safely use vitamin B complex. It has been used for years by pregnant and breastfeeding women, without harming the unborn child or the infant. Vitamin B complex is available without a prescription. Vitamin B complex injections are only available with a doctor's prescription.

Vitamin B reduces the risk of stroke

Swallowing vitamin B supplements may reduce the risk of stroke. Researchers from Zhengzhou University in China come to that conclusion.
Researcher Xu Yuming and his colleagues studied 14 studies with a total of 54,913 patients. All studies compared the effect of vitamin B with a placebo or a very low dose of the vitamin. The participants were followed for at least six months. A total of 2,471 research participants had a stroke. Vitamin B reduced the risk of stroke by a total of 7 percent. The supplements did not appear to have any influence on the severity of the stroke or the risk of death. Folic acid, on the other hand, seemed to reduce the effect of vitamin B. The researchers found no lower risk in people who took vitamin B12.
The extent to which vitamin B lowers the risk appears to depend on various factors such as:
  • the extent to which the body can absorb it;
  • the amount of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the body; and
  • whether someone has kidney disease or high blood pressure.

So before you take a supplement, it is best to consult your doctor. (Source: www., 23 September 2013.)

  1. In Germany, France and the United States of America this vitamin is also known as 'vitamin B9'.

Video: Nutrition Tips : Benefits of Taking a Vitamin B Complex (February 2020).

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