With the vast array of vitamins these days we take a closer look at water-soluble vitamins, their functions, health benefits and more.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins are those that quite simply dissolve in water. The body then absorbs what is needed and excretes the rest in the form of urine. These water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, therefore it is increasingly more important that we maintain a regular supply throughout the day, either in the food we eat or the vitamins we consume or a combination of both. However, the greatest disadvantage of these vitamins is that they can be destroyed by heat and lose their potency when being cooked – by boiling or frying. If you are going to be consuming water-soluble vitamins in the form of food, it is best practice to steam or grill foods in order to retain the best vitamin content available.
Examples of water-soluble vitamins are:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
- Vitamin B12
The additional health benefits of water-soluble vitamins are that they are a great antioxidant, helping to protect cells, keeping them healthy. This is needed in order for the body to produce collagen, a protein which helps to keep your skin teeth and bones healthy.
Riboflavin – Vitamin B2
This keeps the skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy, also helping with the metabolisation and conversion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into glucose, playing a key role in helping maintain the body’s energy supply.
Niacin – Vitamin B3
Niacin helps to keep both our nervous and digestive systems healthy, and also to convert the foods we eat into energy by aiding enzymes. Niacin protects the health of skin cells – for example it has been linked to treating psoriasis and reducing the risk of certain types of skin cancer. High doses of niacin can boost “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
Pantothenic acid – Vitamin B5
Like all the other B vitamins, pantothenic acid assists your body to convert protein, carbohydrates, and fat into energy. Your body needs an adequate source to produce red blood cells and hormones.
In addition to supporting the conversion of food into energy and aiding in the production of red blood cells, like some of the other B vitamins described, vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) supports the production of neurotransmitters which your brain needs to function. In turn, this could have an effect on mood regulation – neurotransmitters that vitamin B6 are linked to are those governing emotions (e.g. serotonin and dopamine).
Separately, vitamin B6 has been used to treat morning sickness. Researchers have not been able to pinpoint why vitamin B6 has this positive effect, but it has been suggested that this benefit is a by-product of the several vital roles the vitamin plays in maintaining a healthy body.
Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid
Folic acid (also known as folate) works in conjunction with vitamin B12. It is one of the best known vitamins – in some countries (such as the UK) it is added to bread and other staple foods. It is required by your body to create DNA, and so plays an especially key role for pregnant women, or those considering starting a family, as it assists in preventing birth defects in the first stages of pregnancy (such as spina bifida). Folic acid is also linked to creating red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 helps to prevent a particular type of anemia that makes sufferers feel fatigued and weak. Like the other B vitamins, it helps to keep blood cells and the nervous system healthy.