What are B vitamins?

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
The B vitamins consist of eight distinct vitamins that help cells function optimally. Many Americans, especially the elderly, don't meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for three of them: B6, B12, and folic acid. As such, these Bs have garnered the most attention by public health officials and researchers.

The B list:
  • Vitamin B1: thiamine
  • Vitamin B2: riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3: niacin or niacinamide
  • Vitamin B5: pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, or pyridoxine hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B7: biotin
  • Vitamin B9: folate, folic acid
  • Vitamin B12: various cobalamins; commonly cyanocobalamin in vitamin supplements
Vitamins B4, B8, B10, and B11 were originally thought to be vitamins but were later discovered to be nonessential to humans.

B vitamins are a group of vitamins -- sometimes called the vitamin B complex -- that help your body convert the food you eat into energy. Some of them also play a role in producing red blood cells, maintaining a healthy central nervous system, and keeping your skin in good shape.

The B vitamins are:

  • B1 (also called thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B12
  • Folate (folic acid)
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
B vitamins are essential for growth, development and many other bodily functions. They play a major role in the activities of enzymes, which are important for turning food into energy and other needed substances. B vitamins are important for a healthy diet and in the prevention of diseases.

B vitamins help the body produce energy and keep the skin, nervous and digestive systems healthy. B-complex vitamins include vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. You may also know these vitamins by their other names, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid or folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12).

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The B complex vitamins are actually a group of eight vitamins, which include Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), Folic acid (B9), Cyanocobalamin (B12), Pantothenic acid and Biotin. These vitamins are essential for:

  • The breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose
  • Provides energy for the body
  • The breakdown of fats and proteins
  • Aids the normal functioning of the nervous system
  • Helps maintain healthy
  • Muscle tone in the stomach and intestinal tract
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Eyes
  • Mouth
  • Liver

The B complex vitamins are found in brewer's yeast, liver, whole-grain cereals, rice, nuts, milk, eggs, meats, fish, fruits, leafy green vegetables and many other foods. See also:

Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine
B vitamins and magnesium can play a critical role in energy production. Energy molecules are made up of B vitamins plus ribose. B vitamins are important for immunity, nerve and brain function, and much more. You can find the necessary B vitamins in a good quality B-complex vitamin formula.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.