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  • Writer's pictureFIKISHA L. WARDEN, MD


Hello and welcome to Hopkins Family Med & Urgent Care, PLLC Blog. In this section of our nutrition series, we will be talking about vitamins. We will be breaking down the different aspects and what you need to know. Below will be our YouTube video to go along with this blog

  • Water-soluble vitamins- Consist of the 8 B-complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) and vitamin C.

    • They Can be dissolved in water, not stored in the body, and excreted in the urine.

    • We need to replenish them every day.

Water soluble vitamins can be easily destroyed and washed out during storage, preparation, and cooking.

Water Soluble Vitamins

Thiamin (Vitamin B1):

  • This is one of the water soluble vitamins that is part of the b complex and it behaves like a coenzyme for carbohydrate and branched-chain amino acids metabolism to provide energy for our body.

  • Alcoholics are prone to deficiency due to decreased intake, inability to absorption and use as well as an increased demand. This deficiency is known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.

  • Beriberi is a rare thiamine deficiency because many foods are fortified with thiamine but this disease causes inflammation of our nervous system(Dry Beriberi) and heart and circulatory system which can lead to heart failure (Wet Beriberi ). This can also lead to pain, confusion, and paralysis.

  • The RDA for thiamin is set at 1.2 and 1.1 milligrams per day in adult men and women, respectively.

  • During Pregnancy and lactation, women require 1.4 milligrams a day.

Thiamine is found in the following foods:

Whole Grains



Nutritional Yeast


Brewer’s Yeast


Winter Squash




Riboflavin (Vitamin B2):

  • Like thiamin, riboflavin also plays a role as a coenzyme in energy metabolism for protein, fats and carbs.

  • Riboflavin is important for growth and red blood cell formation.

  • Deficiency is rare since there are foods fortified with this vitamin,but this deficiency can lead to mouth sores, swollen tongue, inflamed and red skin, and a rare form of anemia.

  • This vitamin is very photosensitive and can be destroyed by sunlight, and if you are cooking riboflavin containing foods a good amount can be lost in cooking water during boiling.

  • Adult RDA is 1.3 milligrams for men and 1.1 milligrams for women. Requirement will increase to 1.4 during pregnancy and 1.6 during lactation.

Foods that contain Riboflavin are listed below:

Nutritional Yeast


Fortified Cereals


Plant milks

Sea Vegetables


Beet Greens


Niacin (Vitamin B3):

  • Like thiamine and riboflavin is part of energy synthesis by metabolizing glucose and fatty acids.

  • Therapeutic doses are often used to adjust cholesterol levels like increase HDL, decrease triglycerides.

  • Niacin is important for the production of our DNA.

  • Pellagra is a deficiency of Niacin. Symptoms include: Confusion, Delusion, Diarrhea, Inflamed Mucous Membranes, and Scaly Skin Sores.

  • RDA for Niacin in adults is 16 and 14 milligrams per day for men and women. Increases to 18 milligrams during pregnancy and then down to 17 milligrams for lactation.

Below is a list of examples of plant-based Niacin sources:

Fortified Cereals


Nutritional Yeast








Peanut Butter


Brewer’s Yeast

Pantothenic Acid (VITAMIN B5):

  • Needed to make blood cells

  • Needed to make coenzyme A (Co A plays a role in biochemical reactions like making and oxidizing fatty acids).

  • Helps release energy from carbs by helping to make glucose, making and breaking down fatty acids.but the same could be said for protein.

  • Promotes healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver

  • Daily intake for adults is 5 milligrams; 6 milligrams for pregnancy; 7 milligrams for lactation

  • Deficiency is rare but when it occurs it can “Burning Feet Syndrome” where you can have distal paresthesia and GI distress

Vitamin B6:

  • Composed of three compounds, Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal, and Pyridoxamine, that are all converted into active forms Pyridoxal Phosphate and Pyridoxamine.

  • Functions as a coenzyme for more than 100 different enzymes that are primarily involved in amino acid metabolism.

  • Essential for red blood cell metabolism and for keeping blood sugar levels stable.

  • This vitamin is required for optimal function of both the nervous and immune systems.

  • Maintaining an adequate intake of this Vitamin also protects against heart disease.

  • Older people and people on a poor diet, may have less vitamin B6 leading to a deficiency

  • B6 deficiency do not appear until later when intake has been low for an extended time

  • Symptoms include: skin inflammation, sore tongue, depression, confusion, and convulsions, and microcytic anemia

  • RDA values for men and women age 19-50 is 1.3 milligrams; men over 51 is 1.7 milligrams; women over 51 is 1.5 milligrams. Pregnant women need 1.9 milligrams daily, and 2.0 milligrams when lactating. For children it’s 0.5 to 1mg per day.

  • Drugs can cause insufficiency and affect metabolism. Some include Isoniazid, penicillamine, hydralazine and levodopa/carbidopa

Vitamin B6 content found in certain foods in mg:

Asparagus, ½ cup cooked has 0.04 mg

Watermelon, ½ cup has 0.04 mg

Soybeans, ½ cup cooked has 0.20 mg

Spinach, ½ cup cooked has 0.22 mg

Banana, 1 medium has 0.43 mg


  • Serves as a coenzyme during the synthesis of glucose and fatty acids and for the metabolism of amino acids.

  • Biotin deficiency is rare but will manifest as anorexia, glossitis , conjunctivitis, depression and hallucination, nausea and vomiting, dermatitis around the eyes, nose, and mouth, hair loss, neurologic symptoms like paresthesia

  • Ingestion of raw eggs can impair its absorption

  • Seen in liver, egg yolk, soybean products and yeast oat bran, oatmeal, almonds, peanut butter, lentils, black-eyed peas, mushrooms and spinach

  • Can interfere with laboratory assays at pharmacologic level affecting thyroid labs but NOT causing thyroid disease.

  • There is not enough data to have RDA so we use Adequate Intake (AI) which is 8-12 mcg for children and 30mcg for adults daily and 35 mcg for lactating women.

Folate (VITAMIN B9):

  • Helps produce and maintain new cells

  • Helps make DNA and RNA; prevents changes in DNA that could cause cancer

  • Pregnant women are advised to maintain adequate doses of folate because deficiency could cause premature birth defects, neural tube defects and/ or low birth weight babies.


  • You can develop megaloblastic anemia from deficiency because you need it to make RBC which carry oxygen to our body tissues and organs.

  • Deficiency can cause tiredness, weakness heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache, difficulty in concentrating and irritability.

  • Evidence suggest that SUPPLEMENTAL folic acid increases certain health risks such as breast, colorectal and prostate cancers as well as a higher risk in childhood asthma and respiratory infection

  • NATURAL folate does NOT pose any health risks

  • Eat leafy greens, veggies and beans such as spinach, asparagus, collard greens, beets, lentils, pinto/black/kidney beans, strawberries, and oranges

  • RDA for folate daily is 400 micrograms(mcg) for both men and women, 600 mcg for pregnant women, 500 mcg for lactating women.

Folate Content Found in Certain Foods in mcg

Strawberries, ½ cup has 20 mcg

Orange juice, ½ cup has 24 mcg

Avocado raw,1/2 has 81 mcg

Cantaloupe, 1 cup has 34 mcg

Black beans, ½ cooked has 105 mcg

Cobalamin ( Vitamin B12):

  • Herbivores or strictly plant based eaters are the only ones that can't get this vitamin directly from food or sunlight.

  • Assists with RBC formation, neurological function, and DNA creation

  • B12 is made by microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, and algae

  • Plants & animals don't synthesize B12, they ingest microorganisms through unwashed food

  • Plant food may contain B12 through contamination from bacteria in the soil, but unlikely for developed countries to consume with safety practices that are put in place.

  • Symptoms of B12 deficiency include decreased sensation, dementia, difficulty walking, loss of bladder or bowel control, weakness, optic atrophy and depression

  • You can have pernicious anemia from deficiency as this vitamin like folate is needed for synthesis of RBC’s

  • Symptoms and deficiency levels varies for each individual

  • Recommended B12 intake daily is 2.4 mcg for men and women; 2.6 mcg for pregnant women; 2.8 mcg for lactating women.

  • We can attain B12 through nutritional yeast, fortified plant based milks, cereals, meat substitutes, and B12 supplements

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C):

  • Acts as an antioxidant and helps in protein metabolism, immune function, and iron absorption

  • Helps create collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters

  • Deficiency leads to scurvy which is rare but causes swollen bleeding gums and opening of previous healed wounds

  • RDA for vitamin C is 90 milligrams for adult men, 75 milligrams for adult women, 85 milligrams while pregnant, 120 milligrams while lactating.

  • Vitamin C is contained in papaya, guava, pineapple, bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes

Vitamin C content found in different foods in mg

Blackberries, ½ cup has 15 mg

Honeydew, ½ cup has 15 mg

Collard greens, ½ cup cooked has 17 mg

Potatoes, ½ cup cooked has 10 mg

Cauliflower, ½ cup cooked has 27 mg

Mango, 1 medium has 57 mg

Cantaloupe, ½ cup has 30 mg

Brussels sprouts, ½ cup cooked has 48 mg

Strawberries, ½ cup has 57 mg

Papaya, 1 medium has 188 mg

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog and please like and subscribe to our Youtube channel as we will be bringing more educational content; have a blessed one! -----Fikisha L. Warden, MD

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