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How Vitamin B Complex Is Important, And How You Can Get It?

How Vitamin B Complex Is Important, And How You Can Get It?

A Scientific Review of Vitamin B Complex - Learn more about its health benefits, possible side effects and other important information here!

vitamin b complex

The vitamin B-complex refers to all of the known essential water-soluble vitamins except for vitamin C. Image via Shutterstock

Vitamin B complex is a blend of 8 water soluble vitamins; B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin)[1].

Vitamin B complex is important for metabolic processes such as cell formation in DNA regeneration.

What is Vitamin B complex?

A group of B vitamins essential for health is called the Vitamin B Complex. They are essential because only two of these vitamins, B12 and folate, will be stored in the body[2]

What are the benefits of Vitamin B Complex?

This group of vitamins work together in the release of energy from carbohydrates and fats, they assist with the metabolism of amino acids and they help to transport certain nutrients throughout the body[3].

How to tell if you are Vitamin B deficient

Some deficiencies in B vitamins can be rare, especially when you are healthy and eating a well-balanced diet.

Here are some conditions linked to vitamin B deficiencies.

  • Anemia: Lack of B12 or B6 could be the cause (source).
  • Depression: Lack of B12 or B6 may be linked to this[4].
  • Dermatitis with cheilosis (scaling on the lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth): Lack of B6 [5]
  • Glossitis (swollen tongue): Lack of B6[5]
  • Weakened immune function: Lack of B6[5]
  • Beriberi: According to MedLine Plus, this is due to lack of B1 but more common in someone with excessive alcohol abuse.
  • General fatigue and weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and unwanted weight loss: All signs of a B12 deficiency, together or alone[10].

What foods contain Vitamin B Complex?

  • Whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet, fortified cereals, wheat germ)
  • Meats (red meat, poultry, fish, liver and kidney)
  • Eggs and Dairy (milk, cheese, eggs)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils)
  • Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds)
  • Dark, leaf vegetables (broccoli, spinach)
  • Fruits (citrus, avocados, bananas)
  • Other (blackstrap molasses, yeast, nutritional yeast
  • Soy products (soy milk, tempeh)

How much Vitamin B Complex supplement should I take daily?

Although whole foods should always be your first source of all nutrients supplementation may be what you need in order to be at your best.

Since there are varying amounts of B vitamins we need each day, check the supplement label to be sure it is not too much for your needs.

Use the following as a guideline after consulting with your physician and dietitian.

Adult males

Vitamins Daily Intake
Thiamin (B1) 1.2mg/day
Riboflavin (B2) 1.3mg/day
Niacin (B3) 16mg/day
Pantothenic acid (B5) 5mg/day[6] (RDA has yet to be determined)
Pyridoxine (B6) 1.3mg/day
Biotin (B7) 30mcg/day[7](RDA has not been determined
Folate (B9) 400mcg/day
Cobalamin (B12) 2.4mcg/day[5]

Adult females:

Vitamins Daily Intake
Thiamin (B1) 1.1mg/day
Riboflavin (B2) 1.1mg/day
Niacin (B3) 14mg/day; 18mg/day for pregnancy; 17mg/day during lactation[8]
Pantothenic acid (B5) 5mg/day (RDA has yet to be determined )[6]
Pyridoxine (B6) 1.3mg/day; 1.9mg/day for pregnancy; 2.0mg/day during lactation[5]
Biotin (B7) 30mcg/day (RDA has not been determined)[7]
Folate (B9) 400mcg/day; in childbearing years, consuming a supplement is highly recommended[9]
Cobalamin (B12) 2.4mcg/day; 2.6mcg/day during pregnancy; 2.8mcg/day during lactation
[5]

What is the best time to take Vitamin B Complex?

The best time is actually the time you will remember. Some people require taking supplements with food while others are fine on an empty stomach.

Read the label instructions, take advice from your physician and/or dietitian. Choose the best time for you and keep it consistent.

What are the side effects of Vitamin B Complex?

As with any supplement, it’s always a good idea to check with your physician before adding to your daily intake as there are some medications and conditions that can be affected[4].

Taking too much niacin, for instance, can cause increased blood sugar levels, damage to the liver, peptic ulcers, and skin rashes.

There is unlikely going to be adverse effects when taking more than the upper tolerable intake of Vitamin B12[10].

Why is Vitamin B9 important for pregnancy?

Vitamin B9, folate, has been found to be crucial in the development of a growing fetus. Not enough folate can lead to birth defects such as spina bifida[3].

Conclusion

Being water soluble vitamins, most Vitamin B Complex cannot be stored by the body so it’s important to eat the foods that contain them regularly.

Remember that Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B9 although still as important to monitor, are those that are stored in the liver. The body may draw on these stores as needed so take this into consideration when it comes to supplementation.

Some vitamins may be toxic if taken in excess through supplementation, so please take care to test your levels of each vitamin first and listen to the advice of your physician or dietitian.

Feedback:

References

1. ClinicalTrials.gov Natural Versus Synthetic Vitamin B Complexes in Human
2. Better Health Channel Vitamin B
3. The Nutrition Source https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/vitamin-b/
4. Mayo Clinic | What's the relationship between vitamin B-12 and depression? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/vitamin-b12-and-depression/FAQ-20058077?p=1
5. National Institutes of Health (NIH) | Vitamin B6 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/
6. Healthline | Why Is Vitamin B Complex Important, and Where Do I Get It?https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/vitamin-b-complex#benefits
7. WebMD Biotin
8. Medline Plus Niacin
9. Oregon State University Folate
10. Vitamin B12 — Health Professional Fact Sheet https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
11. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Micronutrient Supplementation https://www.eatrightpro.org/-/media/eatrightpro-files/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/micronutrientsupplementation.pdf
12. Conclusions of a WHO Technical Consultation on folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/FNBvol29N2supjun08.pdf
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Jackie Vega, RDN

Jackie Vega, RDN, is the owner of The Wellness Solution, a personal fitness and wellness practice in south Florida specializing in reci...

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