Essential B Vitamins

Referred to as vitamin B complex, the eight B vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 — play an important role in keeping our bodies running like well-oiled machines. These essential nutrients help convert our food into fuel, allowing us to stay energised throughout the day. While many of the following vitamins work in tandem, each has its own specific benefits — from promoting healthy skin and hair to preventing memory loss or migraines.


There are eight essential B Vitamins:

Thiamin (B1)
Thiamin is also known as vitamin B1 and helps to convert glucose into energy and has a role in nerve function.

Riboflavin (B2)
Riboflavin is primarily involved in energy production and helps vision and skin health.

Niacin (B3)
Niacin is essential for the body to convert carbohydrates, fat and alcohol into energy. It helps maintain skin health and supports the nervous and digestive systems. Unlike other B-group vitamins, niacin is very heat stable and little is lost in cooking.

Pantothenic Acid (B5)
Pantothenic acid is needed to metabolise carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol as well as produce red blood cells and steroid hormones.

Pyridoxine (B6)
Pyridoxine is needed for protein and carbohydrate metabolism, the formation of red blood cells and certain brain chemicals. It influences brain processes and development, immune function and steroid hormone activity

Biotin (B7)
Biotin is needed for energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism and glycogen synthesis. High biotin intake can contribute to raised blood cholesterol levels.

Folate (B9) (Called Folic Acid when included in Supplements)
Folate is needed to form red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. It helps the development of the foetal nervous system, as well as DNA synthesis and cell growth. Women of child-bearing age need a diet rich in folate.

Cyanocobalamin (B12)
Vitamin B12 helps to produce and maintain the myelin surrounding nerve cells, mental ability, red blood cell formation and the breaking down of some fatty acids and amino acids to produce energy. Vitamin B12 has a close relationship with folate, as both depend on the other to work properly.


So just remember, most of these vitamins can’t be stored by the body and have to be consumed regularly in the diet. Extended cooking, food processing and alcohol can destroy or reduce the availability of many of these vitamins and It is important not to self-diagnose a vitamin deficiency, because some vitamins can be toxic if taken incorrectly.

There are blood tests available to check your vitamin B12 level, so if your thinking you may be low in this vitamin just ask your Doctor for a blood test.




  • Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) for Australia and New Zealand (including recommended dietary intakes), Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. Available Here.
  • Australian dietary guidelines, 2013, National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government. Vitamin B, Netfit Your Definitive Guide to Health and Fitness, UK. Available Here.
  • Water soluble vitamins, Women’s and Children’s Health Network, Child and Youth Health, Government of South Australia, Adelaide & Parenting SA. Available Here.