There are many different types of vitamin B.
This section contains product information and folders on the following B complex vitamins:
B vitamins are a group of nutrients that play many important roles in your body. Most people get the recommended amounts of these vitamins primarily through diet, as they are found in a wide variety of foods.
However, factors such as age, pregnancy, dietary choices, health conditions, genetics, medications and alcohol consumption increase the body's need for B vitamins.
In these circumstances, vitamin B supplementation may be necessary. Dietary supplements that contain all eight B vitamins are called B-complex vitamins.
Here are the health benefits of B-complex vitamins, as well as dosing recommendations and possible side effects.
B-complex supplements usually contain all eight B vitamins combined into one tablet.
B vitamins are soluble in water, which means that your body does not store them. That's why your diet should include them every day.
B-complex vitamins have many important functions and are crucial for maintaining good health.
B1 (thiamine): Thiamine plays an essential role in metabolism as it helps convert nutrients into energy. The richest food sources are pork, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.
B2 (riboflavin): Riboflavin helps convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant. Foods with the highest riboflavin content include organ meat, beef and mushrooms.
B3 (niacin): Niacin plays an important role in cellular signaling, metabolism, and DNA production and repair. Food sources are chicken, tuna and lentils.
B5 (pantothenic acid): Like other B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps the body get energy from food and is involved in the production of hormones and cholesterol. Liver, fish, yogurt and avocado are all good sources.
B6 (pyridoxine): Pyridoxine is involved in amino acid metabolism, red blood cell production and the production of neurotransmitters. Foods with the highest content of this vitamin include chickpeas, salmon and potatoes.
B7 (biotin): Biotin is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats and regulates gene expression. Yeast, eggs, salmon, cheese and liver are among the best sources of biotin.
B9 (folate): Folate is needed for cell growth, amino acid metabolism, red and white blood cell production, and proper cell division. It is found in foods such as leafy vegetables, liver and beans, or in supplements such as folic acid.
B12 (cobalamin): Perhaps best known of all B vitamins, B12 is crucial for neurological function, DNA production and red blood cell development. B12 is naturally found in animal resources such as meat, eggs, seafood and dairy products.
B-complex vitamins all have unique functions and are needed in different amounts, which are described below.
Because B vitamins are found in many foods, you are probably not at risk of developing a deficiency as long as you stick to a varied diet.
However, some circumstances increase the need for B vitamins, making supplements necessary.
There is a growing demand for B vitamins during pregnancy, especially B12 and folate, which support fetal development.
For pregnant or breastfeeding women, especially those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, the addition of B-complex vitamins is crucial.
B12 or folate deficiency in pregnant or lactating women can cause severe neurological damage or congenital defects in the fetus or baby.
As you age, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases, as does your appetite, making it difficult for some people to get enough B12 from diet alone.
The body's ability to release B12 from food in a way that vitamin B12 can be absorbed depends on a sufficient amount of stomach acid.
However, it is estimated that 10-30% of people over the age of 50 do not produce enough stomach acid to properly absorb B12.
B12 deficiency is associated with an increased rate of depression and mood disorders in the elderly.
Vitamin B6 and folate deficiencies are common in the elderly population.
People with certain medical conditions such as celiac disease, cancer, Crohn's disease, alcoholism, hypothyroidism and anorexia are more susceptible to the development of nutrient deficiencies, including B vitamins.
In addition, a genetic mutation in MTHFR can affect how your body metabolizes folate and can lead to folate deficiency and other health problems. Moreover, people who have undergone certain surgeries to lose weight are also more likely to be deficient in B vitamins.
In these circumstances, patients are often advised to add B-complex vitamins to eliminate or prevent deficiencies.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products such as meat, dairy products, eggs and seafood. Vegans and vegetarians may be at risk of developing B12 deficiency if they do not get enough of this vitamin from fortified foods or supplements.
Daily doses of vitamin B-complex can help ensure that people who opt for a diet that excludes animal products get enough of these important nutrients.
Normally prescribed medications can cause vitamin B deficiency.
For example, proton pump inhibitors, which are drugs that reduce stomach acid production, can reduce B12 absorption, while metformin, a popular diabetes drug, can reduce both B12 and folate levels.
Birth control pills can also deplete more B vitamins, including B6, B12, folate and riboflavin.
Pregnancy, medical conditions, surgery, genetic mutations, medications, dietary restrictions, and age can affect how your body absorbs and uses B vitamins.
While certain conditions require some people to supplement with B-complex vitamins, research has shown that taking a B-complex supplement can also be beneficial for people who do not have an increased need for these nutrients.
B-complex vitamins are often used to reduce fatigue and improve mood. Some studies suggest that B-complex vitamins may elevate mood and improve cognitive abilities.
A 33-day study in 215 healthy men found that treatment with high doses of B-complex and mineral supplements improved overall mental health and stress and improved the effectiveness of cognitive tests.
Another study in young adults showed that taking a multivitamin high in B-complex vitamins for 90 days reduces stress and mental fatigue.
Although B-complex vitamin supplements are not a cure for people with poor mental health, they can help improve symptoms of depression or anxiety.
A study in 60 adults with depression showed that 60 days of vitamin B-complex treatment resulted in a significant improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety compared with placebo.
B-complex vitamins can also increase the response to treatment when given in combination with antidepressants.
One study found that supplementing the diet of patients with vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid resulted in a better and more lasting response to antidepressants in one year compared to placebo.
Keep in mind that low levels of certain B vitamins in your blood, including B12, B6 and folate, are associated with an increased risk of depression, so it's important to rule out nutrient deficiencies if you have symptoms of depression.
Each vitamin B has a specific recommended daily amount, which varies according to gender, age and other variables such as pregnancy.
For women and men, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of B vitamins is as follows:
|B1 (thiamine)||1.1 mg||1.2 mg|
|B2 (riboflavin)||1.1 mg||1.3 mg|
|B3 (niacin)||14 mg||16 mg|
|B5 (pantothenic acid)||5 mg (RDI not determined; adequate intake or AI guaranteed)||5 mg (AI)|
|B6 (pyridoxine)||1.3 mg||1.3 mg|
|B7 (biotin)||30 mcg (AI)||30 mcg (AI)|
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