Vitamin B Complex | What Is It? Benefits? Deficiency Symptoms?

Commonly known as the vitamin B complex, the 8 B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12) play vital roles in ensuring that our bodies operate efficiently and as they should!

Each vitamin holds a multitude of benefits for the body, of which can be absorbed through foods and supplements.

Vitamin B Complex | What Is It? Benefits?


✓ Thiamine (B1)

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) aims to ensure that the body can produce new, healthy cells. It has also been reported to possess anti-stress properties, in addition to the ability to boost your immune system. Vitamin B1 is also essential for the breakdown of simple carbohydrates.

Thiamine (B1) Foods: 

* Whole grains, legumes and beans, spinach, kale and peanuts, among others.

vitamin b side effects

✓ Riboflavin (B2)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps to get rid of particles in the body which can damage our cells. B2 has also been linked with the potential prevention of early ageing, in addition to the ability to reduce your risk of heart disease [2].

Furthermore, B2 is essential for the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin, which is responsible for ensuring that the rest of your body’s cells receive the oxygen that they require. There have also been studies [1] which suggest that vitamin B2 can help in overcoming migraines, however, the results are not conclusive.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) | Foods:

* Almonds, rice, eggs, milk, yoghurt, spinach, soy and sprouts.

✓ Niacin (B3)

One of the main uses of vitamin B3 (niacin) is to increase the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the blood. These are the so-called ‘good cholesterol’. The higher your HDL levels are, the lower your overall cholesterol levels are. This means you are at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

Several studies [3][4] have shown that vitamin B3 may be able to treat skin conditions such as acne.

Vitamin B3 | Foods:

>> Milk, eggs, beans, green veg and red meat.

✓ Pantothenic Acid (B5)

Vitamin B5 can be found in pretty much all foods, albeit in small quantities. Its main responsibilities include breaking down fats and carbohydrates for energy, and the producing of important hormones such as testosterone.

There have been studies [4] to show that vitamin B5 can have a positive effect on your skin, reducing the signs of ageing and improving blemishes, redness and spots.

Vitamin B5 | Foods:

>> Eggs, meat, yoghurt, beans and legumes.

✓ Pyridoxine (B6)


Vitamin B6 has several different qualities which are a little less known of. First of all, it works to regulate the levels of homocysteine (an amino acid associated with heart disease). Furthermore, it helps to body to produce hormones such as serotonin and melatonin, as well as norepinephrine. These are sleep and stress hormones so will alter your mood and energy levels.

There have been some studies [5] which have suggested that vitamin B6 can improve the condition of patients suffering from arthritis.

Vitamin B6 | Foods:

>> Seeds, rice, salmon, tuna, turkey and chicken.

vitamin b in seeds

✓ Biotin (B7)

Vitamin B7, also known as the beauty vitamin, has several benefits when it comes to your appearance. It has been linked with improving the appearance of skin, hair and nails.

Furthermore, there have been studies [6] to suggest that vitamin B7 can help to control blood glucose levels can be beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes. It may also benefit pregnancy to support the normal growth of the baby.

Vitamin B7 | Foods:

>> Most commonly found in meats, such as chicken and pork, although it can also be found in egg yolks, potatoes and nuts.

✓ Folate (B9)

Vitamin B9 has several key benefits. It has been linked [7] to the prevention of memory loss, as well as improving depression. It has also been linked with the growth of the babies, to prevent birth defects.

B9 can be found in a synthetic form, folic acid, which is often added to foods such as cereals to fortify them. It can also be bought in supplement form.

Vitamin B9 | Foods:

>> Can be consumed naturally through green leafy veg, asparagus, root vegetables, milk, wheat, beans and salmon.

✓ Cobalamin (B12)

The main role of vitamin B12 is to aid the other B vitamins in completing their ‘jobs’. It works with folate to produce red blood cells as well as to produce haemoglobin.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, which means that lots of vegans and vegetarians are deficient of it. It is necessary to supplement if you do not eat a lot of meat/animal produce.

Vitamin B12 | Foods:

>> Vitamin B12 most commonly found in fish, pork, beef, dairy and eggs.

 salmon fish vitamin b content

Vitamin B Complex | Deficiency Symptoms


A lack of vitamin B, especially B12, can potentially lead to anaemia (low red blood cell count).

Symptoms of this include tiredness and fatigue, breathlessness, headaches, dizziness, pale skin, lack of appetite and weight loss!

Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include sore tongue, mouth ulcers, paraesthesia, irritability and depression.

Further symptoms in people with anaemia caused by a deficiency of folate can include numbness, muscle weakness and depression.

Deficiency of vitamin B1 and B2 usually hardly show symptoms, which is why it is safe to at least include a food or supplement form in your daily diet.

✗ People who are vitamin B9 deficient can develop symptoms such as diarrhoea, as well as producing birth defects in developing babies.

A lack of vitamin B6 may cause skin disorders, such as irritation or a rash. It can also lead to irritation, depression or increased risk of infections!

Take Home Message


You need to ensure that you consume enough of the vitamins from the vitamin B complex each day so that your body can function effectively and efficiently. If you fear that you may suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned, then do consult your doctor and consider purchasing vitamin B supplements.

Taking vitamin B supplements is an excellent way to improve your overall health, even if you do not experience any obvious symptoms of deficiency!

Looking to boost your immune system ready for winter? Click here to discover our top tips!



[1] High-dose riboflavin for migraine prophylaxis in children: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial: [2] A review of the biochemistry, metabolism and clinical benefits of thiamine and its derivatives: [3] Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: [4] The effects of a daily facial lotion containing vitamins B3 and E and pro vitamin B5 on the facial skin of Indian women: a randomized, double-blind trial: [5] Pyridoxine supplementation corrects vitamin B6 deficiency but does not improve inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: [6] Chromium picolinate and biotin combination improves glucose metabolism in treated, uncontrolled overweight to obese patients with type 2 diabetes: [7] Folate and brain function in the elderly: [8] University of Maryland Medical Center Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin):

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