Vitamin B11 (PHGA-salicylic-acid)

What is Vitamin B11?

Vitamin B11 is also known as Pteryl-hepta-glutamic acid (PHGA), salicylic acid, ‘chick growth factor’ or as a ‘factor S’ and is a form of Vitamin B9 (Folate). There are five forms of folate. Vitamin B11 is also similar to para aminobenzoic acid (PABA), an essential component of vitamin B9. Although vitamin B11 plays an important role being a part of folate and PABA it is not considered an essential vitamin as the body is able to synthesise this nutrient. Salicylic acid is synthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine.

Salicylic acid is also found in plants and is involved in the growth and development of the plants and important biological functions.

There is not much known about vitamin B11 and because it is not available as supplements there are no known toxicity from this nutrient.

One of the main functions of all the B vitamins is converting carbohydrates into glucose which helps the body produce energy. B-complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. Many of the B-complex vitamins also play an important role in keeping the nervous system healthy and the brain functioning properly.

This vitamin works like many of the other B vitamins and is involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA.   

Health benefits of Vitamin B11

Maintains healthy skin

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxyl vitamin and is a crystalline organic acid derived from salicin metabolism. It is commonly found in various skin care products and is able to help prevent acne. Salicylic acid helps remove excess dead skin cells and acts as an exfoliator. Salicylic acid is also found in aspirin which some individuals have used to prevent acne.

Needed by other B vitamins

Vitamin B11 is an important component of Folate and needed by the body for various functions. Many symptoms of deficiency associated with this vitamin are similar to that of folate.

Needed for development of the fetus

Vitamin B11 as a form of folate can help with healthy development of the fetus. However it is important to discuss with a health care provider or medical professional before using salicylic acid during pregnancy.

Helps promote a healthy appetite

A deficiency of this vitamin or any other form of folate can lead to a loss of appetite. Vitamin B11 being a form of B9 can help increase the appetite to healthy levels.

Relieves pain

Salicylic acid a component of aspirin can be used as a pain reliever and is commonly used for headaches or migraines in the form of aspirin tablets.

Prevent cancer

Salicylic acid may help prevent some forms of cancer such as colon cancer (colorectal cancer). Some studies have found a benefit of adding aspirin which contains salicylic acid and also dietary salicylates acid to may help in the prevention of colorectal cancer. [1]

Agonist / Synergist

Vitamin B11 is a form of vitamin B9.


Food sources of Vitamin B11

Vitamin B11 can be found in many animal foods which includes organ meats (liver, heart, and kidney), meat, chicken, duck, turkey, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs.

Salicylic acid is the active ingredient found in aspirin which can also be found in the bark of the Willow tree. Some fruits contain high amounts of salicylates including blackberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, prunes, raisins, grapes, apricots, pineapple, plums and oranges.

Recommended Daily Allowance

There is no RDA established for vitamin B11 as the body is able to synthesize this vitamin.

Vitamin B11 Supplementation

Vitamin B11 is not available for supplementation however salicylic acid is found as an active ingredient of aspirin and also in some skin care products such as skin peels and lotions.

Deficiency symptoms of Vitamin B11

Many of the deficiency symptoms of vitamin B11 are similar to vitamin B9. The symptoms associated with a vitamin B11 deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakened immune system
  • High homocysteine
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Impaired growth in children

Toxicity symptoms of Vitamin B11

Topical use of salicylic acid can have various side effects which includes:

  • Headache
  • Ringing in ears
  • Hearing problems
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheaded
  • Breathing difficulties (Breathlessness)
  • Burning skin
  • Peeling skin
  • Skin stinging
  • Dry skin

Aspirin which contains salicylic acid can have the following side effects:

  • Gastrointestinal ulcerations
  • Rash on the skin
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Gastritis
  • Bleeding

Precautions and warnings 

When taking any medications it is important to discuss with your doctor or other health professional before supplementing with any form of vitamin B11 supplements or salicylic acid as it may interact or inhibit the effects of various drugs.