Water Soluble Vitamins: Sources, Functions, Deficiency

We know that all vitamins are classified into two categories: water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Since our body cannot store water soluble vitamins, we need these vitamins regularly in small doses. The daily intake of water soluble vitamins can be through the consumption of foods as well as prescribed supplements.

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How Do Water Soluble Vitamins Work?

At first, these vitamins go through our body parts freely. In the way, they absorb what are required to function properly, and finally, send out the excess things in our urine.

Because of heat, water soluble vitamins can be destroyed. They can be exposed to the air as well. If we cook them in water, the nutritional value is also reduced. So what is the best way to keep these vitamins value intact? It can be by steaming or grilling foods!

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Examples of water soluble vitamins are vitamin B and C.

Vitamin B has various forms like:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid, is one kind of antioxidant. It is necessary for protein metabolism and healthy immune system.

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Sources of water soluble vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables are the only natural sources of vitamin C. Find below some main sources of vitamin C.

  • Citrus Fruits
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwifruit
  • Lettuce
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Papayas
  • Strawberries
  • Peppers
  • Vegetables (Cabbage Family)

Functions and Benefits Of Vitamin C

Our body needs vitamin C to compose collagen, which is a must necessary protein to make blood vessels, scar tissue, ligaments, skin, teeth, and bones healthier. Vitamin C helps grow and repair tissues. This water soluble vitamin heals wounds as well.

To protect us from heart attack and stroke vitamin C is essential. Vitamin C prevents us from atherosclerosis. It does this work by strengthening the artery walls.

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Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it helps block damages caused by the by-products known as free radicals.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Common signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Scurvy
  • Bleeding gums
  • Skin discoloration
  • Poor wound healing
  • Weak immune function
  • Respiratory infection
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Connective tissue imperfection
  • Impaired bone growth (in infants and children)

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

The first B vitamin discovered by scientists was vitamin B1, also known as thiamin. Vitamin B1 works into our body along with other B vitamins. This vitamin releases energy from the foods we take, breaks alcohol, and helps in the metabolic process of carbs and amino acids. Vitamin B1 keeps our nerves healthy and as such, it plays a key role in transmitting nerve impulses.

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Sources of Vitamin B1

 Vitamin B1 is found in all healthy foods but in small amounts. Common sources include:

  • Pork
  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Functions and Benefits of Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is a vital vitamin when it comes to the right functioning of our body as well as brain. This vitamin helps extract energy from taken foods. Vitamin B1 helps create our body’s energy unit, ATP. Some key benefits and functions of vitamin B1 are:

  • Works as a coenzyme
  • Mines energy from foods
  • Helps in forming DNA and RNA
  • Makes healthy nerves
  • Supports digestive system
Vitamin B1 Deficiency

If you have vitamin B deficiency, your body will not get necessary energy that means the body will not be able to function normally. Major signs and symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency include:

  • Beriberi (rice-eaters disease)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Deadness in leg
  • Constipation
  • Problems with nerve, muscular, cardiac and digestive system

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Our body needs vitamin B2 for energy metabolism. To keep healthy skin and normal vision power, it plays a significant role. Vitamin B2 improves the functions of niacin (vitamin B3) and B12 as well.

Sources of vitamin B2

  • Milk and milk products
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fish, meat, poultry
  • Eggs
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Cayenne
  • Currants
  • Fortified cereals
  • Lima beans, navy beans, and peas
  • Molasses
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Parsley
  • Pumpkins
  • Rosehips
  • Sage
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, dandelion greens, etc)
  • Whole-grain breads, enriched breads, and wheat bran
  • Yeast extract

Functions and Benefits of Vitamin B2

Some key functions and benefits of vitamin B2 are as follows:

  • Helps in energy metabolism
  • Keeps healthy skin and normal vision power
  • Supports nervous system
  • Improves the functions of some other B vitamins
  • Maintains mucous membranes in the digestive system
  • Maintains liver health
  • Absorbs and activates vitamins (B1, B3, B6), iron and folic acid
  • Helps produce adrenal glands’ hormone
Vitamin B2 Deficiency

Most common signs and symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency include:

  • Inflamed mouth, tongue, and lips
  • Mouth ulcer
  • Dry skin
  • Anemia
  • Sore throat
  • Scrotal dermatitis

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Key benefits and functions of vitamin B3 (known as niacin) are listed below.

  • Helps produce energy from foods
  • Helps keep nervous system and digestive systems healthy
  • Assists to lower LDL and triglyceride levels
  • Helps raise HDL levels

Sources of vitamin B3

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Whole-grain or enriched breads and cereals
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Potatoes
  • Peaches
  • Rice and rice bran

Vitamin B3 Deficiency

If vitamin B3 deficiency lasts for few months, it can cause pellagra. It is seen with 4D symptoms (dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death). Vitamin B3 deficiency may create:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Memory loss

Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5)

Widespread in foods, Pantothenic acid helps our body obtain energy from the foods we eat. Our body needs this vitamin for hormones and cholesterol production as well.

Sources of Vitamin B5

  • Cereals
  • Egg yolks
  • Legumes
  • Lentils
  • Meats
  • Milk and milk products
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Split peas
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Wheat germ
  • Vegetables (avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, sweet potatoes, etc)

Functions of Vitamin B5

Like other B vitamins, vitamin B5 is necessary to mine energy from carbs, fats, and proteins. Vitamin B5 helps produce red blood cells (RBC), hormones (stress related), and steroids. For a healthy digestive system, vitamin B5 is important.

Vitamin B5 Deficiency

The main symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency are:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Cardiac Distress
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
  • Malaise
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6, another coenzyme known as Pyridoxine, helps in protein metabolism and RBC production.

Sources of Vitamin B6

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

 Functions and Benefits of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps our body to

  • Provide energy from the foods we eat
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Maintain a healthy nervous system
  • Make hemoglobin
  • Create antibodies
  • Boost mood

Vitamin B6 does work as a natural pain healing substance. It is also important for eye, skin, and liver health.

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Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare but it can cause the following disorders in the long run.

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pains (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Fatigue
  • Weakening anemia symptoms
  • Heart diseases
  • Risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Folic Acid

Folic acid, known as folate, assists our body to create healthy RBC with the help of vitamin B12. Folate creates DNA and thus prevents birth-related defects during the early pregnancy.

Sources of Folic Acid

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels
  • Beans and legume
  • Cabbage
  • Fortified foods
  • Liver
  • Orange
  • Poultry
  • Spinach
  • Yeasts

Folic Acid Deficiency

Folic acid deficiency can cause the following disorders and problems:

  • Anemia
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is another coenzyme required to make new RBCs. It helps in the metabolic process of both amino acids and fatty acids. This vitamin helps maintain a healthy nervous system.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products because plant foods don’t contain this vitamin. Few major sources of vitamin B12 are as follows.

  • Eggs
  • Fishes (tuna, haddock, etc)
  • Meats
  • Milk and dairy products (yogurt, cheese, etc)
  • Yeasts
Vitamin B12 deficiency

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are so diverse. Here are few common symptoms.

  • Jaundice
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vision problems
  • Fatigue
  • Period irregularity in women
  • Memory problems
  • Heart palpitations

We need water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins for lots of reasons. In order to maintain sound physical and mental health, vitamins and minerals play a key role.

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