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Water Soluble Vitamins

April 10, 2019

Ever get overwhelmed with all the different vitamins?

Here we break down some basic pointers on the Water Soluble Vitamins for you…


Water soluble vitamins are excreted in our urine – as they are not stored in the body we need to consume them on a regular (daily) basis.



Vitamin C


  • Vitamin C is also known as Ascorbic Acid
  • Meeting Vitamin C needs without fruit and vegetables is almost impossible i.e. Meat, legumes, grains, bread, milk, and processed foods are POOR sources
  • Scurvy, the deficiency of Vitamin C, is characterised by bleeding gums, pin prick rash/ bleeding, easy bruising and joint pain
  • Smokers need an increased intake of vitamin C
  • Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat and oxygen (cooking and storage of food).
  • Consuming vitamin C with iron rich foods (such as meat) increases the body’s absorption of iron. So enjoying meat with broccoli, capsicum and brussel sprouts (or if you are one of THOSE people pineapple 😲)
  • New research into diabetes has found Vitamin C may play a role in blood sugar levels in those with Type 2 diabetes ( (Note: consult your doctor before taking any supplements)



B group

Vitamin B1: Thiamin

  • Thiamin supplementation of bread-making flour is mandatory in Australia, meaning deficiency is rare.
  • As a water soluble vitamin thiamin is not stored in the body and is excreted in urine
  • Vitamin B1 is easily destroyed in cooking. Steaming or microwaving is recommended to prevent leaching of vitamin into water.
  • Many foods contribute small amounts of B1 adding up to the overall required intake
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is usually associated with alcoholics.













Vitamin B2: Riboflavin

  • Low amounts of B2 impacts the function of vitamin B6
  • Most people in Australia meet or exceed the RDI. You would need to eat 2 large bowls of cereal with skim milk to obtain the RDI.
  • Riboflavin is easily destroyed by sunlight (UV light) but not heat. This is why milk is not generally sold in clear containers.
  • Vitamin B2, being water soluble, leaches into cooking fluids so boiling may reduce amount
  • Vegans need to obtain riboflavin from green leafy vegetables, enriched grains or nutritional yeast.













Vitamin B3: Niacin

  • Niacin intakes in Australian usually exceed the RDI. To be deficient you would need to have low intakes of niacin AND tryptophan.
  • The disease of B2 deficiency, pellagra, is known as the 3 D’s: Diarrhoea, Dermatitis, Dementia and can lead to a 4th D = Death.
  • Found in almost protein containing foods including meats, dairy and eggs
  • Niacin is less impacted by cooking than other water soluble vitamins. It can withstand average cooking time but WILL leach into water.













Vitamin B6

  • B6 is stored in muscle tissue, unlike most of the other B vitamins which are not stored
  • If you consume a mixed diet, i.e. plant and meat then 75% of the B6 you consume will be absorbed by the body. If you only consume a plant based diet this is likely to be lower because of the form that B6 is found in plants
  • B6 is lost from foods when heated
  • Alcohol can destroy or cause the loss of B6
  • In the past B6 intake needs were thought to be dependant on protein intake – however there isn’t evidence to support this and Australia now has an RDI that does not relate on protein intake.















Stay tuned, more to come….

By Susan Bown