Do you ever find yourself feeling irritable, groggy or having difficulty concentrating? This general feeling of malaise that seemingly has no cause can easily become a huge burden and interfere with your day-to-day life, your job or your studies. You don't feel sick, but something is wrong.
If this sounds familiar, you might have a vitamin B deficiency. This complex vitamin impacts many important functions in the human body, so a vitamin B deficiency can have wide-ranging effects on your health. In this article, we will go through everything you should know about this group of nutrients, providing you with the necessary tools to get back to feeling like your normal self in no time.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Vitamin B Products
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Vitamin B
- 4.1 What are B vitamins?
- 4.2 What are the benefits of B vitamins?
- 4.3 What happens if you don't have enough vitamin B?
- 4.4 Which foods contain B vitamins?
- 4.5 How could I benefit from a vitamin B complex?
- 4.6 What kinds of vitamin B complex are available?
- 4.7 How should I take my vitamin B supplement?
- 4.8 What precautions do I need to take while supplementing with B vitamins?
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Vitamin B isn't just one single vitamin. It's different molecules that combine to form the vitamin B group or vitamin B complex.
- These vitamins regulate the body functions related to energy production, the creation of new cells and the maintenance of the body's nervous system, among other things.
- Although consuming large doses of B vitamins doesn't produce short term side effects, we recommended choosing supplements that don't exceed the daily recommended dosage for these vitamins.
Our Selection: The Best Vitamin B Products
We've selected the best vitamin B products for this section after studying the various supplements available on the market. This selection is based not just on the highest vitamin B content, but also the nutritional balance of each product and how satisfied customers have been with the item.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Vitamin B
Vitamin B are nutrients necessary for the human body to function properly. Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B7 aid with the production of energy, while vitamin B6 regulates protein metabolism and vitamins B9 and B12 are required for cellular multiplication and division.
What are B vitamins?
When B vitamins were first studied, experts thought they were a single molecule. It was later confirmed that many different types of vitamin B exist, and each was identified by a number. This classification now includes over twenty individual molecules.
Today, the B vitamin group includes eight essential nutrients: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12):
|Vitamin||Most important functions|
|Thiamine (B1)|| Oxygen metabolism
Metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
Transmission of nerve impulses
|Riboflavin (B2)|| Oxygen metabolism
Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Metabolism of other vitamins
Detoxification of harmful products
(Possible) antioxidant function
|Niacin (B3)|| Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Growth and development
Transmission of nerve impulses
Lower blood pressure
Maintenance of skin integrity
|Pantothenic acid (B5)|| Metabolism of oxygen
Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Synthesis of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Transmission of nerve impulses
|Pyridoxine (B6)|| Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Cell growth and maintanence
|Biotin (B7)|| Metabolism of oxygen
Metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
Cellular division and multiplication
Blood sugar level maintenance
|Folic acid (B9)|| Growth and maintenance of new cells
Metabolism of other vitamins (principally B12)
|Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12)|| Growth and maintenance of new cells
Development and protection of the nervous system
Red blood cell production
Maintenance of the intestines
What are the benefits of B vitamins?
Even though we can study each of these essential nutrients individually, the most important functions of these vitamins result from the balanced combination of the eight molecules that make up the B complex. The below list displays the primary processes dependent on the B group vitamins:
- Energy production
- New cell production
- Protection of cellular integrity, particularly rapidly replicating cells (skin, hair and nails)
- Maintenance of normal vision
- Regulation of digestion
- Appetite control
- Maintenance of normal brain function
- Regulation of the nervous system
- Hormone production
- Muscle growth
- Promotion of fertility
- Better fetal health and health during pregnancy
- Reduction of fetal defects
- Possibly increases testosterone production in men
What happens if you don't have enough vitamin B?
- Pregnant or lactating women: pregnant women need a higher quantity of nutrients to support their baby's proper development. Specifically, folic acid (vitamin B9) in increased amounts is required for proper fetal neural development.
- Older adults:Adults aged sixty and older have been shown to be more likely to face various nutritional deficiencies.Their ability to absorb vitamins decreases, and at the same time, their likelihood of having hypovitaminosis goes up.
- People with conditions that impact intestinal absorption: Crohn's disease, celiac disease and HIV are diseases that affect the absorption of nutrients in the body, increasing the risk of B vitamins deficiency.
- People with alcohol problems: Alcohol negatively impact the absorption, storage and activation of B vitamins (in particular, B1, B6 and B9). People who drink alcohol very frequently are at higher risk of a vitamin B deficiency.
- Vegans and vegetarians: A balanced vegan or vegetarian diet should provide seven of the eight essential B Vitamins. Vitamin B12, however, is found almost only in animal-based products, so it should be supplemented in a plant-based diet in order to avoid a deficiency.
- People with demanding lifestyles:Chronic stress has been shown to decrease levels of vitamin B6, thereby increasing those people's risk of facing a nutritional deficiency.
- Smokers: Abnormally low levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 have been found among people addicted to tobacco, thus upping their chances of having a B complex deficiency.
Vitamin B deficiency may manifest itself as fatigue and weakness in the initial stages. Later on, other unpleasant symptoms will appear, including dry skin, cracked lips, digestive discomfort and constipation. If hypovitaminosis is not resolved, the prognosis will likely worsen and even more severe issues will appear such as:
- Premature aging (presence of grey hairs before age 30)
- Red and inflamed tongue
- Mood disorders
- Numbness in the toes and hands
- Frequent infections
- Memory loss
- Deterioration of vision
- Impaired fetal development (in pregnant women)
- Increased incidence of cancer (especially colon and breast)
Which foods contain B vitamins?
|Vitamin||Recommended daily dosage||Dietary sources|
|Thiamine (B1)||1.2 mg||Pork, eggs, whole grains, nuts, sunflower seeds.|
|Riboflavin (B2)||1.3 mg||Fish, white meat, red meat, eggs, whole grains, avocado.|
|Niacin (B3)||14 mg||Liver, tuna, peanuts, chicken, avocado, whole grains.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||5 mg||Seafood, chicken, pork, dairy, eggs, legumes.|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||1.3 mg||Chickpeas, tuna, liver, salmon, bananas, chicken.|
|Biotin (B7)||0.03 mg (30 micrograms)||Red meat, avocado, nuts, salmon, eggs, dairy.|
|Folic acid (B9)||0.4 mg (400 micrograms)||Green leafy vegetables, eggs, legumes, citrus, asparagus.|
|Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12)||0.0024 mg (2.4 micrograms)||Seafood, chicken, red meat, tuna, nutritional yeast.|
Bear in mind that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) in the above chart refers to the needs for an average adult. In the case of children, pregnant women and those suffering from chronic diseases, the recommendations may be different. A nutritionist can offer recommendations for unique cases.
How could I benefit from a vitamin B complex?
- People who hope to age in a healthy manner: How vitamins B6, B9 and B12 may contribute to preventing cognitive deterioration in the elderly is being studied. Additionally, proper levels of B vitamins have been linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular issues in the elderly.
- People seeking to improve the look of their skin, hair and nails: Some experts claim that consumption of B group vitamins is more effective than cosmetics for improving the appearance of the skin, limiting nail fragility and supporting hair growth.
- Workers under stress: A handful of studies reveal that those who consume B vitamin supplements are better able to handle chronic stress caused by work.
- Students: Normal levels of B complex vitamins may help students reduce stress (particularly at exam times), avoid mental fatigue and maintain normal cognitive abilities.
- Athletes: B vitamins are important for energy metabolism and muscle growth. Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 can help boost athletes' performance.
- People on weight-loss diets: Weight-loss diets tend to limit caloric intake in a significant way. Supplementing with a vitamin B complex will guarantee the required supply of these nutrients to maintain an active metabolism.
- Vegans and vegetarians: Vegans (and sometimes vegetarians) often need to make a vitamin B12 supplement part of their diet in order to prevent hypovitaminosis. Most vitamin B complex supplements contain B12, so they're a great addition to any vegan diet.
- People who hope to offset the negative effects of tobacco or alcohol: Vitamin B supplements can help decrease the oxidative effects caused by years of tobacco or alcohol use and addiction.
- People facing mental exhaustion, apathy or irritability: Although vitamin B can't replace medication for psychiatric conditions, B complex has been shown to relieve feelings of mental fatigue and boost some people’s mood.
Although pregnant women will benefit from a supplement containing B9 and B12, there are specific prenatal and postnatal supplements that are suitable for pregnancy and lactation. If you're pregnant, we would recommend that you speak with your doctor. They can recommend a supplement that best suits your needs and your baby’s.
There's no doubt that B vitamins can help you improve your general well-being. You can use these supplements sparingly, to address periods of stress like exams and work projects, or you can use it over long periods of time to bolster your appearance and limit the effects of aging.
What kinds of vitamin B complex are available?
- B Vitamins for women over 40: This vitamin complex has high amounts of folic acid and biotin, which are good for older women’s skin, nails and hair.
- B Vitamins for athletes: These supplements provide all of the daily requirement for vitamin B6, along with other nutrients of the B group. This type of product may also include other compounds that can boost sports performance, like magnesium or L-carnitine.
- B Vitamins to preserve intellectual functioning: In this kind of supplement, vitamins B6, B9 and B12 combine to address the nutritional deficiencies that can appear during particularly challenging periods (exams, projects and long work shifts).
- B Vitamins for vegans and vegetarians: These supplements contain the daily value of vitamin B12 to prevent any issues from a lack of B12 in plant-based diets (such as anemia, nervous disorders, fatigue and digestive problems).
- B vitamins for weight loss: Usually, these supplements contain the full daily value of all the B vitamins. They help dieters maintain metabolic balance and control appetite while preventing any unwanted nutritional deficiencies.
Despite all this, those who begin supplementing with B vitamins can select a "standard" complex that offers the range of essential nutrients in the B group of vitamins. That way, you can get all of the advantages of B vitamins (for athletic, intellectual, aesthetic or health purposes).
How should I take my vitamin B supplement?
- What dosage? We suggest selecting a supplement that contains 100% of the recommended daily amount for the eight most essential B complex vitamins. Usually, this will be equivalent to one dose of the supplement, taken once per day.
- What time? The absorption of these supplements is not affected by the time of the day you take it. Nonetheless, some nutritionists advise taking the supplement in the morning so you can take advantage of the energy-enhancing impact of some B vitamins.
- With a meal or on an empty stomach? B group vitamins are water-soluble molecules (they are dissolved in water). Therefore, their ability to dissolve is high and they can be consumed on an empty stomach or alongside a meal, with about the same effectiveness.
- How do I store my supplement? Most supplements can be stored in a cool, dry place, and be sure to keep the container tightly shut and avoid exposing it to sunlight. Some special items (such as liquid B vitamins) may need refrigeration.
Don't forget that supplements have an expiration date. Consuming an expired vitamin B supplement shouldn't be dangerous, but its effectiveness may be limited and you might not experience any results.
What precautions do I need to take while supplementing with B vitamins?
Still, a study of healthy men revealed that supplementing with excessive doses of B complex vitamins (1000% or more of the RDA) can up the likelihood of getting some types of cancer. This doesn't occur with the B vitamins consumed via food or moderate supplementation.
Additionally, excessive amounts of B vitamins can result in digestive discomfort (primarily heartburn and nausea). We therefore suggest choosing a supplement that provides 100% of the RDA, and does not exceed that limit. An especially high dose of these vitamins won't provide any additional benefit or cause the supplement to work more quickly.
In this section, you'll learn how to differentiate between various vitamin B supplements. Vitamin B supplements are very popular and there are many options available, so it's good to have a solid understanding in order to pick the best product for you.
- Interactions With Medication
- Vegan and Vegetarian Diet
- Form of Administration
- Value for Money
Interactions With Medication
Vitamin B supplements don't often cause interactions with commonly used drugs (such as over-the-counter pain killers, contraception, blood pressure medications and anti-diabetic drugs). Nonetheless, there have been issues seen in people taking supplements while also taking anti-epileptic treatments.
For this reason, you should speak with your doctor if you suffer from epilepsy or a nerve conduction disorder prior to starting any supplementation with B vitamins. Keep in mind that no nutritional supplement can replace the necessary medical treatment tailored to each individual's needs.
Vitamin B supplements sometimes contain products that aren't suitable for those with intolerances of gluten, lactose or soy. Some have additives like magnesium stearate. High quality supplements should indicate on the packaging if they are free of allergens. If there is no mention of the most common allergens, they are most likely present.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diet
If you are vegan or vegetarian, you should pick a vitamin B supplement that provides at least 100% of the RDA for B12. Additionally, be sure to select a complex that doesn't contain animal compounds in its ingredients. This includes vitamin capsules, which need to be made from a cellulose derivative rather than gelatin.
Many vitamins have to go through a process of activation in the body (known as methylation) before they're able to function in cellular metabolism. However, up to 30% of people may have some sort of defect that prevents or limits the methylation process for B vitamins.
It is therefore recommended to select a supplement that provides vitamins in their activated form (methylated), ready to be used by the body. Methylated compounds normally appear in the ingredients with the prefix "methyl", and methyltetrahydrofolate (the active form of folic acid or vitamin B9).
Form of Administration
You can choose among a number of different supplement formats according to what's most comfortable for you. In most cases, nutrient effectiveness and absorption won't be affected by the method, so this decision depends solely on your personal preferences.
- Tablets: Tablets or hard capsules are the most basic form of supplementation. Their storage and preservation are simple, but some people have difficulty swallowing these pills.
- Soft capsules: Soft capsules normally have liquid content inside. The texture is much easier to handle. Vegan consumers must ensure that capsule coating doesn't contain gelatin.
- Oral spray: This method is a consumer favourite, allowing them to supplement in just a few seconds. Some sprays can be used on food, offering another easy way to take these supplements.
- Drops or liquid: This method also allow you to supplement quickly, easily and cleanly. The price may be a bit higher than other items and the product may require refrigeration.
- Powder: This form of supplementation is popular among athletes, who often use powder to boost the nutritional content of their favourite drinks or protein shakes.
- Lollipops: This form of supplementation has also become very popular, offering a pleasant and sweet way to take your vitamins. But these can also be very pricey.
Value for Money
Some people insist that the benefits of vitamin B are visible just a few days after beginning supplementation. However, many studies of the vitamin require a minimum of three months prior to being able to truly see the effects.
For this reason, we recommend purchasing enough to take for at least two or three months for starters. Bear in mind that these nutritional supplements do expire.
B group vitamins are a great addition to any balanced diet. These nutrients are water-soluble and don't accumulate in harmful levels, so they're a safe and convenient option to help you maintain energy levels and better health.
Vitamin B complex regulates some reactions in the body. For this reason, you should definitely pick a high-quality supplement and take it in the recommended daily dosage. If you maintain good levels of vitamin B, your health will improve as a result.
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