Water-soluble vitamins are essentially characterized as vitamins that can dissolve in water and can be absorbed by the cells. In this article, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary breaks down the different types of water-soluble vitamins and the ways in which they impact your health.

There are 9 types of water-soluble vitamins.
These include:

• Folate
• Thiamine
• Riboflavin
• Niacin
• Pantothenic Acid
• Biotin
• Vitamin B6
• Vitamin B12
• Vitamin C

Folate, also known as folic acid, promotes the formation and maintains the health of red blood cells, helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, and even prevents birth defects during early pregnancy. You can find folate and foods like liver, dark green and leafy vegetables (i.e. broccoli, Brussels sprout), citrus fruits, meats and fish, whole grains and fortified grains, and legumes.

Thiamine, also known as thiamine and Vitamin B1, helps promote the proper function of your nervous system (including the transmission of nerve impulses), as well as helps your body break down and metabolize carbohydrates, amino acids, and even alcohol. Thiamine is commonly found in food sources such as liver, pork, and peas, as well as things like bread, rice and pasta. If you are someone who consumes very few calories, you could potentially develop a thiamine deficiency – though that is a rare problem in Canada and the United States. Symptoms of deficiency include muscle weakness, confusion, and water retention.

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is commonly found in whole and enriched grain products, legumes, milk, eggs, liver, and dark green vegetables. Similar to thiamine, riboflavin also helps your body metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins, protects and keeps your cells healthy, and can even enhance the function of other vitamins. Riboflavin also helps keep your skin healthy and can improve your vision.

Niacin, commonly referred to as vitamin B3, produces energy, promotes good digestion, enzyme function, as well as keeps your skin and nerves healthy. You can find niacin in whole and enriched grain products, peanuts, fish, poultry, liver and other meats. When consumed in large quantities, niacin has also been found to lower high cholesterol.

Pantothenic Acid and biotin both produce cholesterol and hormones, and they also allow your body to produce energy as well as aide in metabolizing carbohydrates, fats and protein. Food sources for pantothenic acid and biotin include egg yolks, milk, vegetables, liver, meats, whole grains and legumes.

Vitamin B6 also aides in the formation of red blood cells, and is heavily involved in the production of insulin and haemoglobin, as well as the creation of nonessential amino acids, metabolizes carbs, proteins and fats, and keeps both your immune and nervous systems healthy. Food sources for vitamin B6 include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, meats and pork.

Vitamin B12 is yet another vitamin that helps to promote the health of your red blood cells and maintains your nervous system. Vitamin B2 can only be found in foods of animal origins, such as meat, liver, fish (including shellfish), eggs, and milk.

Last but not least, Vitamin C. As a water-soluble vitamin, Vitamin C produces collagen, which helps to keep your blood vessels, bones, teeth and skin healthy. It is also an antioxidant and can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. While vitamin C cannot cure the common cold or flu, it can certainly give your immune system a much-needed boost and reduce the frequency in which you develop them. The best source of vitamin C is citrus fruits – i.e. oranges, grapefruit and kiwi.