The Vitamin B Complex Mark as Favorite (4 Favorites)

LESSON PLAN in Pharmaceuticals, Molecular Structure , ACS National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program. Last updated December 30, 2022.


In this lesson, students will learn about the discovery of vitamins, specifically the B vitamins, via a reading. Organic chemistry and solubility are all touched on in this lesson. There are a series of activities to help promote literacy in the science classroom related to the reading. This lesson could be easily used as plans for a substitute teacher, as most of the activities are self-guided.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • HS-PS2-6: Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Understand that vitamins occur naturally but can also be synthesized.
  • Realize that chemists play a role in biological discoveries.
  • Comprehend that chemistry affects human health.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Molecular Structure


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes
Lesson: Approximate times for students to complete each activity in the lesson:

  • Anticipation Guide: 10 minutes
  • Reading: 20 minutes
  • History exercise: 15-20 minutes
  • Chemical Structures: 10-15 minutes
  • Vitamins and Disease: 10-15 minutes
  • Nutrition-Related Disease: 20-25 minutes


  • Reading document and any lessons that accompany it that you want to include.


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for these activities.

Teacher Notes


Lesson Overview:

The lesson includes multiple components as outlined individually below. The Reading is essential for all of the activities. Teachers can choose to do one or all of the included activities. Student handouts and corresponding answer keys are provided for each item described below:

  • Activity: Anticipation Guide
    • Anticipation guides help engage students by activating prior knowledge and stimulating student interest before reading. If class time permits, discuss students’ responses to each statement before reading each article. Then, while they read, students should look for evidence supporting or refuting their initial responses.
  • Reading: The Vitamin B Complex
  • Activity: History Exercise
    • Identify the sequence of events that lead to the discovery of vitamins. Then students will dive a little deeper into the actual first discovery by comparing and contrasting the chemical structures of the B vitamins.
  • Activity: Chemical Structures
    • Further compare and contrast several vitamin structures. Given their structures, predict whether each is fat- or water-soluble.
  • Activity: Vitamins and Disease
    • List several diseases and contrast their causes. Describe the symptoms and treatment of three diseases caused by nutritional deficiency.
  • Activity: Student Research: Nutrition-Related Disease
    • Identify additional diseases related to vitamin deficiencies. Conduct online research to learn more and present a short report.

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