Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other whole foods are abundant in different vitamins and minerals. Vitamins have many different purposes in the body and are needed for proper organ and body system functions, as well as for balanced metabolism, digestion, absorption of other vitamins, and tons of other body needs.
That being said, according to Harvard Health Publishing, healthy individuals are able to get enough vitamins through foods, when they stick to balanced and diverse diet.  However, with the raising number of people who adopt Western diet, or exclude certain whole foods from their menu (like grains, meat, fish, etc.), vitamin deficiencies are becoming a common trend.
That is why it’s so important to understand the purpose and recommended dietary allowance of every vitamin, as well as its deficiency symptoms and foods that are abundant in it.
In total, there are 13 vitamins: A, B (contains 8 vitamins in total), C, D, E, and K. They are divided in two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble.
In this article we look closely into water-soluble vitamins: B and C. We will guide you through the purpose of these vitamins, their deficiency symptoms, foods, and dosage. But first, let’s explain what does water-soluble vitamin mean!
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What are water soluble vitamins?
There are two water-soluble vitamins B -complex vitamins (containing 8 vitamins in total) and vitamin C. They are called-water soluble because their excess amounts excreted out of the body with the urine. In that sense, overdosing with water-soluble vitamins is less likely to occur than overdosing with fat-soluble vitamins (which are stored in the body). Besides, specialist suggests that vitamins B and C should be consumed every day (preferably through food) in order to supply your body with enough of them and prevent deficiencies. 
That being said, evidence suggests that taking megadoses of vitamins B and C may lead to toxicity, dependency and withdrawal symptoms.  So keeping your balance is the key to getting enough water soluble vitamins without raising the risk of overdosing.
Another drawback is that unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble ones are not heat stable: their abundance and properties may decrease when they are heated (e.g., when cooking foods rich in vitamins B and C), or when stored incorrectly.  For that reason, refrigerating foods rich in water soluble vitamins and cooking them in low heat can help you preserve more of their healthy properties!
Now, let’s see more about each vitamin and the foods it occurs in.
What should you know about B complex vitamins?
As mentioned, there are 8 types of vitamin B. Each of them plays a different role in the body, but at the same time they are all responsible for proper macronutrient metabolism, and improve the absorption and effect of one another.
Vitamin B1 (also called Thiamin) 
- Its primary function is to support energy metabolism, as well as the growth, development and function of body cells and organs.
- Recommended daily intake (from food) for adults varies between 1.1 mg for women (1.4 mg during pregnancy) and 1.2 mg for men.
- Deficiency signs may include weight loss, memory loss, muscle weakness, beriberi, disorientation.
- Foods rich in B1 are vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, pork, fish, seafood.
Vitamin B2 (also called Riboflavin) 
- Its primary function is to help the body break down fats, carbs, and proteins, support energy metabolism, as well as the absorption of other B vitamins.
- Recommended daily intake for adults (form food): 1.1 mg for women (1.4 mg during pregnancy), and 1.3 mg for men.
- Deficiency signs may include endocrine disorders, skin diseases (including dry skin and dermatitis), swollen gums, swelling of mouth and tongue, swollen and cracked lips.
- Foods rich in B2 include beef liver, yogurt, oats, meat, dairy products, fortified foods.
Vitamin B3 (also called Niacin) 
- Its primary function is to break down and metabolize proteins, fats, and carbs. It also plays major role in supporting proper cell functions and protecting from DNA damage.
- Recommended daily dose for adults (form food): 14 mg for women (18 during pregnancy) and 16 mg for men.
- Deficiency signs include pigmented skin rash/discoloration after sun exposure, diarrhea, nausea, depression, headache, memory loss.
- Foods rich in B3 include meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, and legumes.
Vitamin B5 (also called Pantothenic acid) 
- Its function is related to synthesis of enzymes and proteins, break down of fats.
- Recommended daily intake for adults is 5mg.
- Deficiency signs include deficiency in other nutrients, fatigue, numbness and burning in feet and hands.
- Foods rich in B5 include mushrooms, meat, poultry, seeds, avocado, and diary foods, most vegetables.
Vitamin B6 (also called Pyridoxine) 
- Pyridoxine plays important role in protein metabolism and coenzyme functions, as well as in supporting brain health, immune system, and hemoglobin formation.
- Recommended daily intake for adults is 1.3mg.
- Deficiency signs include anemia, dermatitis, eczema, depression, weak immune system.
- Foods rich in B6 include legumes potatoes, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds.
Vitamin B7 (also called Biotin) 
- Like other B vitamins, biotin supports the metabolism of proteins, carbs, and fats. Even though biotin is often promoted for nails, hair and skin strengthening, there is no strong evidence to support the claims that the more biotin you take, the stronger your hair, nails, and skin would be.
- Recommended daily intake for adults (form food): 30 mcg.
- Deficiency signs include thinning hair, hair loss, brittle nails, skin rash, depression, fatigue, conjunctivitis.
- Foods rich in B6 are fatty fish (salmon), meat, diary foods, sweet potato, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin B9 (also called Folate) 
- It plays major role in protein metabolism, as well as in DNA synthesis and cell development and growth.
- Recommended daily intake for adults (form food): is 400mcg. The intake for pregnant women is slightly higher- 600 mcg a day.
- Deficiency signs include other nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, weakness, inability to concentrate, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache, irritability.
- Foods rich in B9 include legumes, beets, broccoli, meat, flaxseed, spinach, asparagus, avocado, green peas, peanuts.
Vitamin B12 (also called Cobalamin) 
- The function of B12 is to support healthy formation of red blood cells, keep the nervous system healthy and in balance. Together with folate, it stimulates the synthesis of DNA.
- Recommended daily dose for adults (form food): 2.4 mcg.
- Deficiency signs include anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling sensation in feet and hands, irritability, depression, poor memory, difficulty to maintain balance, development delays.
- Foods rich in B12 are dairy products, fish, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs.
What to know about vitamin C?
- Evidence suggests that the intake of recommended doses vitamin C may fight infections, support immune function and at the same time reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Besides, there are some hypothesis that this vitamin may have beneficial effect on various health conditions, including cancer, arterosclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and diabetes. 
- Recommended daily dose for adults (from food): 75 mg for women (85 mg during pregnancy) and 90 mg for men. However, if you are a smoker, you would need additional 35 mg of vitamin C per day. 
- Deficiency signs are slow healing wounds, bruises, bleeding nose and gums, overall easy bleeding, muscle and join pain.
- Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, pepper, chili, kiwi, tomatoes, broccoli.
Ensuring enough vitamin in your diet can improve your energy, health profile, and overall quality of life! Sticking to a balanced and diverse diet, regularly visiting your doctor (at least once a year), and exercising can really make a difference!