Most people know B vitamins for the incredible energy they provide, along with stress relief, great digestion and improved mood. All the B vitamins work as a team, guiding the body towards better health.
B vitamins also have a huge role in skin health, with B5 playing a starring role alongside its co-stars B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9. Together they support skin healing and renewal, bringing a healthy glow through their teamwork.
Below is a guide to the power of B vitamins on our health, happiness and of course, our skin.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
This energising vitamin helps with nerve conduction, carbohydrate metabolism and fatigue. It only stores in tiny amounts, and up to 85% can be lost in cooking. This makes it essential to consume daily, mostly in legumes, yeast, wholegrain and seeds.
Low levels of B1 can show quite quickly, usually in the form of fatigue, irritability, poor memory and concentration, and constipation. No-one likes being tired, so keep this one up with consistency.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Found in wheat germ, almonds and mushrooms, this vitamin is important for preventing cracked lips, itchy eyes, and scaly or greasy dermatitis. It’s also associated with wound healing, making this a key nutrient for healthy, elastic skin.
It works by helping with tissue repair, so any skin, hair or nail condition benefits from its intake. It’s even said to help with acne rosacea.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Low levels of B3 comes with a set of symptoms known as the “Four D’s”: Diarrhoea, Dermatitis, Dementia and Death. Not a great combination and a terrible outcome, so be sure to eat lots of legumes, peanuts, wheat bran and Vegemite!
Dermatitis due to B3 deficiency shows up as red, blistered, dry and cracked skin, sometimes with an itchy rash.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
This star vitamin can be used therapeutically to increase energy production, improve wound healing and reduce symptoms of acne and dermatitis.
When it comes to skin, B5 protects against premature ageing and wrinkles. It can be used to treat depigmentation, hair loss, acne and psoriasis. It helps to keep the skin supple and moisturised, and seems to be particularly useful when it’s applied topically.
B5 is essential to producing healthy fats, which are important for skin cells and skin protection. It’s found in broccoli, avocado, mushrooms and apricots.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Often used for help with PMS, vitamin B6 is a coenzyme for at least 50 known reactions in the body.
This busy vitamin helps with carbohydrate and fat metabolism and helps with the absorption of vitamin B12.
Low levels of B6 can often lead to dermatitis, as well as insomnia, anaemia and a poor immune system.
Vitamin B9 (Folate, Folic acid)
Folate works in partnership with vitamin B3 and is important for the production of DNA and protein synthesis - both needed for skin repair and renewal.
The main concern with folate deficiency is anaemia and fatigue, but long-term deficiency will also affect the hair, skin, and nervous system. Because it’s part of the B vitamin team, it’s important to keep levels up so they can all function at their best.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin, cyanocobalamin)
Mostly known for its role in preventing anaemia, this energising vitamin is important for the nervous system.
While it doesn’t have as much of an effect on skin as the rest of the B vitamins, it’s still crucial for good health.
The Powers That B
A diet which is brimming with fresh fruit and vegetables, along with legumes, nuts and seeds is a great way to maintain optimal B vitamin levels.
If you have a skin condition such as acne, dermatitis or psoriasis, it’s worth considering a supplement with these powerful vitamins, along with a topical treatment including B5 and other anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Cohen, M., & Braun, L. (2005). Herbs & Natural Supplements: An Evidence-based Guide (Herbs and Natural Supplements) (1st ed., pp. 174, 380-401). Marrickville: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-853/pantothenic-acid-vitamin-b5
Mem Davis is a naturopath, writer, and food lover. She loves feeling healthy and strong, and is a proud vegan nutrition advocate. In her spare time she goes hiking, attends live music events and hangs out with her cuddly cat.