Everything You Need to Know About Water-Soluble Vitamins: Definition, Functions, Symptoms, and Foods

2023-08-23 00:08:47

Water-soluble vitamins perform many important functions in the body, but what exactly are water-soluble vitamins? Here is the definition with examples and foods.

Water-soluble vitamins cannot be produced by the body itself and must therefore be ingested through food. As the name suggests, the vitamins dissolve in water, and the body simply excretes any excess through the urine. An overdose is therefore only possible with difficulty.

Which vitamins are water soluble? What should be considered when taking? Which foods contain water-soluble vitamins? Find answers to these questions here.

Important information compact:

With the exception of vitamin B12, the body cannot store water-soluble vitamins – unlike fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are important for metabolism, cell growth and the immune system. The daily requirement is low, but a deficiency can lead to serious symptoms. Water-soluble vitamins do not provide any energy themselves, so they have no calories.

Explanation and definition: What are water-soluble vitamins?

There are 13 known vitamins. These are organic compounds that are needed in small amounts in the body for metabolism. Vitamins differ in their chemical properties in terms of absorption and utilization in the body and are therefore divided into two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. While fat-soluble vitamins need fat as a means of transport in order to be absorbed by the body, water-soluble vitamins can be absorbed with a glass of water and processed further in the body. They are absorbed through the intestinal wall and thus get directly into the blood.

The word vitamin is made up of the terms “vita” (life) and “amine” (certain organic compounds).

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List: Which water-soluble vitamins are there?

The water-soluble vitamins include all B vitamins and vitamin C. Here is an overview:

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Water-soluble vitamins: functions, symptoms of deficiency and foods

Vitamin B1:


Energy metabolism Normal function of the nervous system Normal mental and cardiac function

Deficiency symptoms:

Fatigue Irritability Memory problems Loss of appetite Sleep disorders Abdominal pain Weight loss

Foods with vitamin B1:

Savoy cabbage, sunflower seeds, lentils, peanuts, pork, whole grain cereals

Vitamin B2:


Energy metabolism Normal function of the nervous system Maintenance of normal mucous membranes Maintenance of normal red blood cells Maintenance of normal skin and vision Normal iron metabolism Protection of cells from oxidative stress

Deficiency symptoms:

Sore tongue Cracks in the corners of the mouth Red and scaly patches in the area of ​​the nose, lips, ears and eyelids – also in the genital area

Foods with vitamin B2:

Mushrooms, soybeans Animal offal Fish (saithe, mackerel) Yeast Dairy products (Camembert, whey cheese) Eggs

Vitamin B3:


Energy metabolism Normal function of the nervous system Normal psychological function Maintenance of normal mucous membranes and skin Reduction of tiredness and fatigue

Deficiency symptoms:

Inflammation of the oral mucosa and tongue increased saliva production inflammatory skin changes (dermatitis) or scaly skin (similar to sunburn) depression, moodiness, hallucinations apathy

Foods with vitamin B3:

Broccoli, peach, mushrooms, nuts, mung beans Chicken liver, beef Fish (tuna, anchovies, salmon) Dairy products

Vitamin B5:


Energy metabolism Synthesis and normal metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D and some neurotransmitters Reduction of tiredness and fatigue Mental performance

Deficiency symptoms:

Fatigue and insomnia Depression Irritability Vomiting and stomach pain Tingling and numbness in the toes (“burning feet syndrome”) Muscle spasms

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Foods with vitamin B5:

Mushrooms, peas, nuts, avocado, pork liver, assorted fish butter eggs

Vitamin B6:


Production of neurotransmitters to transmit signals between nerve cells Production of hormones, red blood cells and cells of the immune system Conversion of food into glucose for energy production Control of homocysteine ​​levels in the blood Metabolism of amino acids

B6 deficiency symptoms:

Inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) and rash Numbness and stinging hands and feet Sore tongue and sore corners of the mouth Mental health problems Convulsions in babies in rare cases Anemia

Foods with vitamin B6:

Mango, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, nuts, peppers Whole grains Pork liver, lobster, sardines, mackerel Dairy products

Vitamin B7:


Energy metabolism Function of the nervous system Metabolism of macronutrients Normal mental function Hair and skin Preservation of the mucous membranes

Deficiency symptoms:

Hair loss Muscle pain Depressive moods due to disorders of the nervous system Skin and mucous membrane changes (also inflammation of the corners of the mouth)

Foods with biotin:

Bananas, tomatoes, peanuts Beef and pork liver, various types of fish Dairy products

Vitamin B9:


Maternal tissue growth during pregnancy and cell division Amino acid synthesis Blood formation Homocysteine ​​metabolism Normal mental function Normal function of the immune system

Deficiency symptoms:

anemia (low blood count) with tiredness, paleness, irritability, shortness of breath and dizziness sore tongue diarrhea impaired taste depression confusion dementia

Foods with folic acid:

Mung beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, potatoes Nuts Leafy greens (corn salad, spinach) Liver, tuna, pen shells Eggs Oranges

By the way: Pregnant women have a particularly high need for folic acid.

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Vitamin 12:


Normal energy metabolism Normal function of the nervous system Homocysteine ​​metabolism Normal mental function Normal formation of red blood cells Normal function of the immune system Reduction of tiredness and fatigue Cell division

B12 deficiency symptoms:

psychological abnormalities such as signs of fatigue, depressive moods and attention deficits anemia

Foods with vitamin B12:

Shiitake mushrooms Beef, oysters, salmon Dairy products (especially Camembert and mozzarella) Eggs

Vitamin C:


Structure of connective tissue Structure of bones and teeth Protects cells and molecules from damage Inhibits the formation of nitrosamines

Vitamin C deficiency symptoms:

poor wound healing joint pain infections tendency to bleed in the body tooth loss

Foods with vitamin C:

Peppers Spinach Citrus Brussels sprouts, kale Tomatoes Broccoli Black currant Guava Sea buckthorn

Can you overdose on water-soluble vitamins?

The body cannot store most of the water-soluble vitamins. Excess amounts, which are usually ingested via preparations, are excreted by the body via the urine. Only vitamin B12 can be stored in the liver in very small amounts. According to the consumer advice center, until recently there were no known harmful effects from an overdose of vitamin B12. Nevertheless, caution is advised: According to the consumer center, studies from 2017 and 2018 indicate that very high daily doses can possibly increase the risk of lung cancer. According to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), an overdose of vitamin C can cause temporary gastrointestinal symptoms from a daily intake of three to four grams.

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