What are Water Soluble Vitamins?

Vitamins have been classified into two groups on the basis of materials in which they dissolve before entering into bloodstream: fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and water soluble vitamins (B-complex and C).

Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body for longer period of time. Excess of water soluble vitamins are flushed out of the body through urination. Cooking also reduces the content of vitamin B-complex and vitamin C in foods. Due to their constant elimination from the body we need to replenish them daily in order to maintain a good health. As our body excretes the excess of water soluble vitamins, they do not have any harmful effect on the body.

Water Soluble Vitamins and Their Characteristics


Food Sources

Major Functions

Deficiency Symptoms

Stability in Foods

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

Legumes, pork, liver, meat, peas, fortified breads and cereals

Makes energy from food, promotes appetite, helps in function of nervous system

Beriberi, edema, confusion, impaired growth

Dissolves in water, losses occur during cooking, denatured by alkaline substances

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Liver, milk, leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts, legumes

Releases energy from food, good vision, healthy skin, hemoglobin production

Dermatitis, damage to eyes.

Light sensitive, alkalinity destroys riboflavin

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Dairy products, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes and eggs

Energy production, maintains digestion, healthy skin and nerves

Pellagra, diarrhea, irritability, confusion

Losses depend upon method and duration of cooking

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Egg yolk, liver, kidney, whole grains, mushrooms, avocados; also produced by intestinal bacteria

Formation of hormones, energy production,

Abdominal pain, fatigue, disturbed sleep, nausea, abdominal cramps

More than half of the Pantothenic content in food is lost while milling and refining the foods

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Fish, beans, pork, legumes, leafy vegetables and cereals

Protein metabolism, hormone regulation, RBC formation

Skin disorders, anemia, cracked lips, kidney stones

Highly unstable in heat, considerably lost during cooking.

Vitamin B7 (biotin)

Egg yolk, liver, kidney and milk; also produced by micro-organisms in the body

Releases energy from food, fat synthesis

Loss of appetite, vomiting, anemia, depression and fatigue

Destroyed by processing

Vitamin B9 (folic acid)

Spinach, broccoli, liver, kidney, fish, whole grains and citrus fruits

Hemoglobin production, protein metabolism, prevents coronary heart disease

Weight loss, stunted growth, anemia, diarrhea

Considerable losses occur due to storing, processing and cooking

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Present strictly in animal foods: meats, fish, liver, kidney, pork, eggs and milk

Synthesis of DNA, hormone production, maintenance of nervous system

Neurological disorders, pernicious anemia, weakness, tingling in fingers

A major part is lost by cooking

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, melon, tomatoes and green peppers

Collagen formation, wound healing, production of brain hormones, anti-oxidant

Scurvy, bleeding, swollen gums, dry & rough skin, tooth loss, sore joints

Destroyed by alkaline substances, unstable under heat and dry storage, highly soluble in water





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