Water Soluble Vitamins: Sources and Benefits

Water soluble vitamins enter the bloodstream directly in contrast to fat soluble vitamins which require special proteins to help them dissolve. The kidneys can excrete excess water soluble vitamins when more of them are available than is necessary. Because water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, replenishment must occur continually. Foods that contain water soluble vitamins are rich sources of nutrients that facilitate good health as well as perform important cellular functions to keep the body operating at peak condition.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, can be found in natural food sources like orange juice, ham, baked potato, wheat germ and oysters. Vitamin B1 is often referred to as the “morale vitamin” due to positive effects on the nervous system and mental outlook. A diet of foods containing thiamine can have potential benefits that include improved digestion, reducing fatigue and keeping mucous membranes vigorous. Cooking foods high in thiamine with high heat will quickly rid the food of the nutritional benefits. Caffeine, alcohol and antacids can also adversely affect vitamin B1.

Vitamin B2

Dairy products, organ meats and leafy green vegetables are good sources for vitamin B2, or riboflavin. Getting enough food containing riboflavin helps improve the release of energy from food and assists in the normal growth and development. Proper amounts of riboflavin increase the healthy look of skin, nails and hair.

Vitamin B6

According to Psychology Today, deficiencies in vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, are more common in America than deficiencies of other water soluble vitamins. Food sources for B6 include wheat germ, milk, eggs, beef and cabbage. Pyridoxine is an active participant in the chemical reactions of amino acids, helps maintain normal functioning of the brain and promotes the formation of red blood cells.

Vitamin B12

The synthesis of DNA that results in multiplication of cells is one of the benefits that come with eating food sources containing vitamin B12. This is one of the odder water soluble vitamins in that most of the sources in which it can be found are meat products such as poultry and fish although it can also be found in dairy products. For this reason, vegetarians and vegans are especially prone to vitamin B12 deficiency. A deficiency of B12 is potentially one of the most serious of all vitamin deficiencies as it can lead to pernicious anemia which in turn may result in irreversible nerve damage. While most B vitamins are subject to a loss of nutritional value when cooked at high temperatures, B12 differs in that the loss is more substantial when foods are cooked inside a microwave according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.