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What are Water-Soluble Vitamins?

3 min read

Water-soluble vitamins (as oppose to fat-soluble vitamins) are not stored in the body, it absorbs what it needs and then it usually excretes the excess in your urine. Due to the fact that they cannot be stored, the body needs a continuous supply through a steady daily intake. This can be through the foods we eat, the supplements we take, or from a combination of both.

Water-soluble vitamins are found in fruit, vegetables and grains. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, they can be destroyed by heat or by being exposed to the air. They can also be lost in water used for cooking, this means that by cooking foods, especially by boiling them, we lose many of the vitamins. The best way to keep as many of the water-soluble vitamins as possible is to steam or grill foods.

Water-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin C
  • the B Vitamins
    • Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
    • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
    • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
    • Pantothenic Acid 
    • Vitamin B6
    • Folic Acid
    • Vitamin B12

Vitamin C

It is also known as ascorbic acid - it is an antioxidant and helps protect cells and keeps them healthy. It is needed by the body to make collagen - the most plentiful protein in the body which helps keep bones, skin, teeth and blood vessels healthy. Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin C does not help cure the common cold, but it does keep the immune system healthy.

Thiamin (also known as Vitamin B1)

It works with other B-group vitamins to help break down and release energy from food, break down alcohol and metabolise carbohydrates and amino acids. It also plays a vital role in the transmission of nerve impulses by keeping nerves healthy. 

Riboflavin (also known as Vitamin B2)

It keeps skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy as well as helping the body metabolise carbohydrates, protein and fats. Riboflavin also enhances the function of some of the other B Vitamins, Niacin and Vitamin B12.

Niacin (also known as Vitamin B3)

It helps produce energy from the foods we eat as well as helping keep the nervous and digestive systems healthy. Niacin protects the health of skin cells and keeps the digestive system functioning properly. In large amounts, Niacin can help lower LDL and triglyceride levels, while raising HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

Pantothenic acid

Allows the body to obtain energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat. Your body also uses Pantothenic Acid to produce hormones and cholesterol.

Vitamin B6

It is also known as Pyridoxine - it acts as a co-enzyme, which means it helps chemical reactions take place. It plays a vital role in the creation of non-essential amino acids and helps your body break down glycogen, which is the storage form glucose. Vitamin B6 also helps your body metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fat and keeps your immune system and nervous system healthy.

Folic Acid

Known as Folate in its natural form, it works together with Vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells. As your body needs Folate to create DNA it plays an extremely important role in preventing birth defects during early pregnancy.

Vitamin B12

Is involved in making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy. The body also needs Vitamin B12 to metabolise fatty acids and amino acids and to synthesise the DNA in your cells.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.