Water soluble vitamins are vitamins that can easily dissolve in water. Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex, which includes thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and cobalamin, are the key water soluble vitamins needed by the body. They are found primarily in plant and animal foods, but can also be taken in the form of dietary supplements. You can generally get sufficient amounts of these through a balanced diet. Learn more about water soluble vitamins and their benefits in this article.
Water-soluble vitamins are not naturally stored in our bodies; they enter directly into the bloodstream during digestion and are taken to bodily tissues, where they are immediately absorbed for use. These vitamins should be replenished regularly, as they travel throughout the system freely and very rarely do we find an excess of them in our bodies. Excess water vitamins are excreted quickly via urine, so they do not usually reach toxic levels.
However, there are a few examples of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin B6, niacin, choline, folate and vitamin C that are exceptions to this. Very high levels of vitamin B6 over a prolonged stretch of time can cause irreversible nerve damage, while an excess of vitamin C may cause diarrhoea.
Water-soluble vitamins perform multiple tasks in the body, the primary function being freeing the energy stored in the food we eat. The other functions mainly serve to maintain tissue health. Here are some of their functions and benefits:
A number of B complex vitamins are crucial components of coenzymes (molecules that assist enzymes); they help in the breakdown of the food we eat and release energy during digestion.
Vitamins B1(Thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B7 (biotin) all work together to produce energy.
Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), and B9 (folic acid) are responsible for aiding the metabolization of amino acids, ie: the building blocks of proteins, effectively helping cell regrowth and multiplication.
This is one of the most well-known functions of vitamin C. This vitamin helps in making collagen, which in turn acts as a support for blood vessel walls, helps in healing wounds, keeps the skin elastic, and provides a base for our bones and teeth.
Water-soluble vitamins aid in red blood cell and haemoglobin production, maintenance of the nervous system, enzyme function, production of hormones and protection of skin, hair, teeth and bones.
The findings of certain epidemiologic studies suggest that vitamin C-rich foods and vitamin C itself may either have no relation with the disease or may even act as protection against cancer. The strongest evidence suggesting a protective effect is in the case of stomach cancer. However, there is yet to be a definitive case to be made for protection against cancer being one of the health benefits of Vitamin C.
The nine water-soluble vitamins found in our diets consist of vitamin C and the B-complex group. Here is the complete list along with their respective health benefits:
helps to maintain nervous system function and aids in releasing energy from food.
promotes healthy skin, good vision and conversion of amino acid to niacin.
plays a role in metabolism, enzyme function, digestion and maintenance of nerves and healthy skin.
participates in metabolic processes and the formation of hormones.
helps in producing insulin, haemoglobin, and red blood cells, and the metabolism of proteins.
metabolises fats, carbohydrates and proteins during digestion and releases energy.
helps in forming red blood cells and protein metabolism. May play a role in reducing the risk of birth defects involving the neural tube.
helps in forming red blood cells and maintaining the nervous system.
aids production of collagen, healing wounds and formation of bones, as well as iron absorption and improving immune function.
Pantothenic acid coenzymes of water-soluble vitamin B are formed by transferring certain chemical groups between molecules. These coenzymes help in the synthesis of specific proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the body. They are also used to produce cells and tissues, and to store or release energy as and when needed.
The formation of these coenzymes is popularly known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle or the Krebs cycle. This cycle is integrally linked with the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat in the body. In this manner, water-soluble vitamins such as thiamin, vitamin B6, niacin and riboflavin play crucial functions in the human body through their coenzymes.
Water-soluble vitamins are metabolised in the body through a process known as hydroxylation. This process involves adding a hydroxyl group (-OH) to the vitamin molecule, which makes it more water-soluble and allows it to be easily absorbed and transported in the bloodstream. Once the water-soluble vitamin has entered the bloodstream, it is carried to the cells that need it and is used for various metabolic reactions.
Then, after the vitamin has been used by the body, any excess remaining is eliminated through the urine. Because water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body in large amounts, it is important to regularly consume a sufficient amount of these vitamins through the diet or supplements to meet the body’s needs without any limitations.
It’s worth noting that some individuals may have certain genetic or medical conditions that affect the absorption, transport or metabolism of these vitamins. In such cases, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if a supplement is necessary.
There are many beneficial effects of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin B in its various forms (such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folate, and pantothenic acid). Some of the key beneficial effects are explained below.
It helps to strengthen the immune system, promotes collagen production and wound healing, and acts as an antioxidant.
They are important for energy metabolism and the formation of red blood cells. Furthermore, they also play a key role in nerve function, DNA synthesis and the health of the skin, hair, and eyes.
It helps to form red blood cells, produces DNA and RNA and also supports the growth and division of cells
It helps in the formation of red blood cells, DNA synthesis and the healthy functioning of the nervous system.
It’s important to note that water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body for long periods of time. So, you need to replenish them regularly through diet or supplements.
It is important to include enough fruits, vegetables, fortified dairy products and protein like meat, eggs or protein and whole grains in our diet along with hydrating fluids in order to get sufficient quantities of water-soluble vitamins. An excess or a significant deficiency of these vitamins can lead to various health problems. Health issues related to deficiencies of water vitamins include scurvy, problems with the peripheral nervous system, anaemia, skin disorders, hyperemia, digestive issues and so on.
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