Unpopular But Still Essential! What Are They?


Well, we are again going to discuss the rest of the members of the vitamin B complex family viz Vitamin B3, B5 and B7. These are important vitamins but not spoken about as much as the rest of the nutrients. We have already covered the other B vitamins, you can read about them Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, B9 in detail.

Vitamin B3 – Niacin

Why is it needed?

Energy Production: Similar to the function of other members of the Vitamin B complex, niacin is essential for energy production. Two different forms of the vitamin B3 (NAD or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and NADP nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) are needed in order to convert dietary protein, carbohydrate and fat into an energy form that is usable by the body. Niacin is also needed for the synthesis of starch which can be stored in liver and muscles ultimately to be used as a source of energy.

Protection of antioxidants: Niacin, present as NAD and NADP, involved in energy metabolism, work by scavenging the free radicals. This step is needed for energy production as well as to protect the body from excessive tissue damage.

Where is it found?

We can get niacin from legumes such as peanuts, green peas.Root vegetables and green leafy ones are good sources of niacin. Other sources include avocado, barley, brown rice, sunflower seeds.

How to overcome a deficiency?

This is easy – just eat a well- balanced diet which includes all the sources mentioned above.

What occurs when there is a deficiency of niacin? What are the signs and symptoms?

It starts off with a lack of appetite. The deficiency could be either mild or severe.

Symptoms of a mild deficiency include: mouth sores,  coated tongue, low blood sugar, chronic headaches and dizziness. A few other symptoms include skin lesions, diarrhoea and anaemia. Psychologically if affected, you might show signs of forgetfulness, irritability,  insomnia, nervousness.

Coming to the severe deficiency - results in Pellagra. This is due to a prolonged and severe deficiency of the vitamin.  It is characterised by dementia, bilateral dermatitis, and diarrhoea. It can also cause neurasthenia or muscle weakening and depression.

Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid

vitamin b

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What does it do?

Pantothenic acid is essential for our bodies to effectively make use of the available proteins, fats or lipids and carbohydrates for healthy skin. Apart from playing an important role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates to produce energy, vitamin B5 plays an extremely important role in RBC production and also in the manufacture of stress and sex-related hormones produced by the adrenal glands, (small glands that sit atop the kidneys).

Vitamin B5 is also needed to help maintain a healthy GI tract. It also helps the body to make use of other vitamins such as Vitamin B2  or Riboflavin. Vitamin B5 is at times referred to as the"anti-stress" vitamin.

Where is it found?

Found in both plants and animals including meat, vegetables, cereal grains, legumes, eggs, and milk. The name Pantothenic acid comes from the Greek word pantos, which means "everywhere,"  and quite interestingly, it is available in a wide variety of foods. However, it is seen that this vitamin found in foods is lost while getting processed.

Fresh meats, whole unprocessed grains and vegetables have a higher content of vitamin B5 than canned, refined, and frozen food.

Some of the best sources include brewer's yeast, cauliflower, corn, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, legumes, avocado, egg yolks, lentils, meat such as liver, kidney, poultry, milk, soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds.

What happens if there is a deficiency?

A deficiency of this vitamin is rare, but can present with symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, depression, vomiting, irritability, stomach pains,  and upper respiratory infections.

Vitamin B7 - Biotin

What does it do?

This vitamin plays an important role in aiding the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It also contributes towards healthy nails, hair and skin. And thus you can see it in many cosmetic/health care products for the hair and skin. But it has to be noted that biotin cannot be absorbed by the hair and skin, it has to be synthesised inside the body to be utilised. This vitamin is sometimes also referred to as Vitamin H (where H stands for hair!).

What are the sources of  Biotin?

Biotin is present in a variety of foods. Biotin is present in small amounts in liver, salmon, cauliflower, carrots, bananas, yeast, eggs, nuts, chicken, dairy products, avocado, raspberries.

What happens if there is a deficiency?

A deficiency of biotin is extremely rare. It is said that intestinal bacteria actually produce more vitamin B7 than what is required daily. However, if there is a problem with the metabolism of biotin in someone, huge doses of the vitamin may be needed. Every living species requires biotin. Note that this vitamin can only be manufactured by certain bacteria, moulds, algae, yeast and some plant species.

So, would you want to know if you are on the safer side? Yes, it is better to be aware! So how do you do this??? Just click here and the magic will begin.


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Hridya Anand

by Hridya Anand

A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.


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