Supplements

8 Health Benefits Of B Vitamins

While we often focus on our macros to meet our goals in the gym, micronutrients like vitamins cannot be ignored. Vitamins are crucial for our overall health and performance, and an important part of prevention of health issues. B Vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that are present in many plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as animal-based foods like meat and dairy products. 

B Vitamin deficiencies can lead to a wide range of health issues from skin conditions to fatigue and memory difficulties.1 Read on to make sure you’re getting all of the health benefits of B Vitamins in your diet.

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Health benefits of B vitamins

Each B vitamin has a different benefit for the body…

1. B1 (Thiamin)

Essential for the growth, development, and function of our body’s cells.2

2. B2 (Riboflavin)

Plays a key role in harnessing the food we eat for energy and cellular growth and function.3

3. B3 (Niacin)

Plays a role in converting foods to energy, as well as helping digestion, skin, and nerve cell function.4

4. B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Helping convert our food to energy; crucial for making and breaking down fats.5

5. B6 (Pyridoxine)

Used for many metabolic functions, immunity, and plays a role in brain development.6

6. B7 (Biotin)

Plays a role in the metabolism of all three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat).7

7. B9 (Folate)

Crucial for cell division and DNA formation, making it especially important in the diets of pregnant women.8

8. B12 (Cobalamin)

Similar in function to other B vitamins (red blood cell development, brain function, DNA formation) but is only found naturally in animal-based sources.9

 

B vitamins dosage

The following recommended dosages are from the Office of Dietary Supplements.  

  • B1 – Thiamin: 1.1-1.2 mg per day2
  • B2 – Riboflavin: 1.1-1.3mg per day (those who avoid dairy products or are vegan or vegetarian may need more)3
  • B3 – Niacin: 14-16mg per day14
  • B5 – Pantothenic acid: 5mg per day5 
  • B6 – Pyridoxine: 1.2 – 1.3 mg per day (if over 50 increases to 1.5-1.7mg)6
  • B7 – Biotin: 30 mcg per day of biotin7
  • B9 – Folate: adults 400mg daily and pregnant women 600mg, but not more than 1000mg8
  • B12 – Cobalamin: 2.4mg per day9

 

Signs of vitamin B deficiency

Signs of B Vitamin deficiency can include, but are not limited to:

  • Skin rashes or discoloration1
  • Lip and mouth tissue dryness, cracking, sores, swelling1
  • Weakness, dizziness, confusion, lack of energy11
  • Irritability, lack of concentration6,11
  • Nausea, cramping, diarrhea, constipation1
  • Loss of feeling in hands or feet, loss of muscle2

*If you experience any of these you should always contact a doctor.*

 

Foods with B vitamins

Because there are many B vitamins, there are many foods that are high in B vitamins. They are so crucial for health that some foods (I.e., cereals and processed grains) are even fortified with some B vitamins to prevent health issues in the population at large. A balanced diet should provide most of the daily amounts of B Vitamins that your body needs.

  • Meat 
  • Fish 
  • Poultry 
  • Dairy products 
  • Leafy greens 
  • Whole grains 
  • Eggs 
  • Legumes 
  • Seeds  
  • Berries 

 

Take home message

While B vitamins are available in many food sources, we might take for granted that we get enough of them each day. However, the potential health impact of subpar Vitamin B intake can cause a wide range of problematic health issues. Focusing on including a variety of healthy foods in your diet can help support adequate intake of these important vitamins.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


  1. Fitzpatrick, T. B., Basset, G. J., Borel, P., Carrari, F., DellaPenna, D., Fraser, P. D., … & Fernie, A. R. (2012). Vitamin deficiencies in humans: can plant science help?. The Plant Cell24(2), 395-414. 
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016, April 13). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Thiamin. 
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016, February 17). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Riboflavin. 
  4. US National Library of Medicine. (2018, June 20). MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia – Niacin. 
  5. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2018, June 12). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Pantothenic Acid. 
  6. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016, February 17). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B6. 
  7. Office of Dietary Supplementes. (2017, December 8). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Biotin. 
  8. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2018, December 7). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. 
  9. Office of Dietary Supplements. (2011, June 24). National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12. 
  10. US National Library of Medicine. (2015, April 2). Health Topics: B Vitamins. 
  11. US National Library of Medicine. (2016, July 29). Health Topics: Anemia. 


Claire Muszalski

Claire Muszalski

Writer and expert

Claire is a Registered Dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach through the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.

Talking and writing about food and fitness is at the heart of Claire’s ethos as she loves to use her experience to help others meet their health and wellness goals.

Claire is also a certified indoor cycling instructor and loves the mental and physical boost she gets from regular runs and yoga classes. When she’s not keeping fit herself, she’s cheering on her hometown’s sports teams in Pittsburgh, or cooking for her family in the kitchen.

Find out more about Claire’s experience here.


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