Thursday’s posting was an introduction into the family of ‘B’ vitamins. Today we will consider the role of each B vitamin in the body and the associated deficiency diseases.

In general, the ‘B’ vitamins are needed for a whole variety of different roles in the body, from the immune system and nervous system to muscles and  skin to metabolism.

Vitamin B1 or Thiamine(2-[3-[(4-Amino-2-methyl-pyrimidin-5-yl)methyl]-4-methyl-thiazol-5-yl] ethanol).

Thiamine is involved in the breakdown of glucose and found in the membranes of neurons.

A lack of this vitamin will lead to beri-beri – a disease of the nervous system. Symptoms include fatigue and weight loss.

Vitamin B2or Ribolflavin(7,8-dimethyl-10-[(2R,3R,4S)-2,3,4,5-tetrahydroxypentyl]benzo[g]pteridine-2,4(3H,10H)-dione)

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This vitamin is  required by flavoproteins and is needed for a variety of cellular processes. It plays a key role in energy metabolism.

A lack of this vitamin will lead to ariboflavinosis which is essentially protein-energy malnutrition. Symptoms will include a sore throat, swelling of the mouth, cracking of the lips and corners of the mouth.

Vitmain B3 or niacin (nicotinic acid).

Niacin is needed to produce NAD and NADP, a compound that is essential to cellular metabolism.

A lack of niacin leads to Pellagra, whose symptoms include diarrhea, dermatitis and dementia.

Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid(3-[(2,4-dihydroxy-3,3-dimethylbutanoyl)amino]propanoic acid)

Vitamin B5 is needed to synthesise CoA, an which is needed by cells to metabolise proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Deficiencies of this vitamin are rare but are believed to lead to low energy levels.

Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, pyridoxal, or pyridoxamine(4,5-Bis(hydroxymethyl)-2-methylpyridin-3-ol).

Pyridoxine is needed for the production of neurotransmitters, promoting red cell production and balancing the amount of sodium and potassium in the body. The dragon fruit is a good source of this vitamin but it is present in most foods – so don’t worry, you don’t have to add the dragon fruit to your diet!


A defficiency of this vitamin can lead to a variety of symptoms, including dermatitis, depression, high blood pressure and anemia.

Vitamin B7 or biotin (5-[(3aS,4S,6aR)-2-oxohexahydro-1H-thieno[3,4-d]imidazol-4-yl]pentanoic acid)

Biotin is necessary for cell growth, production of fatty acids and amino acid and fat metabolism.

A defficiency of biotin in the diet is rare but if it is missing, it can lead to conditions such as hair loss, conjunctivitis and dermatitis.

Vitamin B9or folic acid [(2S)-2-[(4-{[(2-amino-4-hydroxypteridin-6-yl)methyl]amino}phenyl)formamido]pentanedioic acid]

Folic acid is essential to daily functions and is required by the body to synthesise and repair DNA. It is also important in aiding rapid cell division and for this reason is given to women who are in the early stages of pregnancy or who are trying to conceive.

A lack of folic acid in the diet is rare but a defficency of it can lead to neural tube defects in developing embryos.

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Vitamin B12 or cobalamin.

The cobalmins are a group of substances (natural and man-made) that act as vitamin B12.Natural forms include methylcobalamin and cobamamide. The vitamins are needed to allow the brain and nervous system to form. it is also needed for the formation of blood and in the formation of fatty acids.

A defficiency of this vitamin will lead to an acne like rash.

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Tomorrow, we will look at the most well known of the vitamins, vitamin C.