by Matt Weik
Micronutrients are an essential part of your diet, and if you’re deficient in any particular one, it can cause issues. B vitamins are some of the most commonly talked about micronutrients as they play some vital roles in your body. The downside is that many people don’t consume a diet with much variety where they can get all of their B vitamins from food alone. Therefore, many will lean on a B complex supplement or a high-quality multivitamin that contains B vitamins.
So, what exactly are B vitamins? B vitamins are water-solution vitamins essential for energy production and aid in bodily functions and health. Ensuring you’re getting enough B vitamins is critical for immune health, heart health, brain health, liver, and the functioning of cells. B vitamins can be found in various foods like milk, meat, beans, almonds, and many more foods.
While some people will get Vitamin B from a healthy diet, others may benefit from taking supplemental Vitamin B. As per the studies, 86.5% of vegans and vegetarians are low on Vitamin B12 as it is found in animal-based foods.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. The information found within this article is not medical advice and should not supersede a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan should you have a health condition. The use of B complex supplements should never be a replacement for any medication that your doctor puts you on.
What Are B Complex Vitamins?
B complex supplements contain a combination of all eight B vitamins in one pill or tablet. Taking a daily B complex supplement can help ensure you do not become deficient in various nutrients. The best time to take B complex supplements would be in the morning due to their ability to help boost energy levels.
Let’s look at each individual B vitamin to help explain what role it plays in the body as well as what some common food sources are that contain high amounts of that specific B vitamin.
B1 helps produce energy and plays a vital role in the growth and development of every single cell of your body.
Food sources: Beans, Kale, Spinach, Whole grains.
B2 works as an antioxidant and supports metabolism. Also, it helps in the production of red blood cells, which helps transport oxygen throughout the body.
Food sources: Almond, Milk, Yogurt, Eggs.
B3 helps to fuel the cells and supports healthy skin.
Food sources: Eggs, Milk, Green vegetables.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
B5 is good for the nervous system and brain. Also, it promotes healthy skin.
Food sources: Eggs, Avocado, Yogurt.
B6 supports cognitive development and is a major player in the sleep cycle and mood patterns. It is also known to be able to help reduce inflammation.
Food sources: Chicken, Tuna, Sunflower seed, Cheese, Brown rice.
B7 is also known as a beauty vitamin because of its association with hair, nail, and skin.
Food sources: Liver, Pork, Chicken, Fish, Potatoes.
Folic acid is good for women who are pregnant. B9 can improve memory and has even been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Food sources: Dark leafy green, Root vegetables, Milk, Beans.
B12 supports blood cell production and helps in carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Food sources: Fish, Dairy, Eggs.
The Benefits of B Vitamins
Below are some of the benefits commonly associated with B vitamins:
● Reduce the risk of stroke and heart diseases
● Boost energy by improving metabolism
● Vitamin B9 helps to control high blood pressure
● Help achieve hormone balance
● Improve concentration
● Reduce the risk of depression
Who Should Supplement with B Vitamins?
In general, by eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, you can meet the number of vitamins your body needs daily. However, in certain circumstances, your body demands more Vitamin Bn (such as an athlete, bodybuilder, or if you live an active lifestyle), which makes supplements much more critical to meet your daily requirements.
People who should consider taking B vitamins are:
1. Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women
As per studies, the demand for Vitamin B during pregnancy is required to support fetal development. In addition to that, pregnant women should also consume folate, as it can reduce the amount of birth deficit (basically involving spinal cord and brain), as per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Also, studies show that deficiency of Vitamin B12 can lead to miscarriages, fetal abnormalities, low birth weight, and high blood pressure in women.
2. Older Adults
Your appetite tends to decline with age, and it can become challenging to get all your micronutrients from your diet alone. As per research, older people tend to have a deficiency of Vitamin B12. It is mainly because the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 decreases with age.
Studies show that the deficiency of Vitamin B12 can increase the risk of depression and mood disturbances.
3. Vegans and Vegetarians
People who follow vegetarian or vegan diets often struggle to meet the daily intake of Vitamin B12, which is found in meat, dairy products, etc.
So, if you follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you may want to consider taking something like a B complex supplement (or a strict B12 supplement) to avoid a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Potential Side Effects of Supplemental Vitamin B
Though it is unlikely to consume B vitamins in excess, here are a few side effects that can be experienced due to excessive consumption:
● High blood sugar and vomiting due to high doses of Vitamin B3 (niacin)
● Nerve damage and light sensitivity due to high amounts of Vitamin B6
● High doses of a B complex supplement can also turn urine bright yellow
It is recommended to speak with your doctor before taking B complex supplements.
What Causes a Vitamin B Deficiency?
Consuming all the vitamins in an adequate quantity is extremely important. Here are the top four reasons that can lead to a Vitamin B deficiency:
● Poor diet
● Excessive consumption of alcohol
● Various types of medicines
● Gut malabsorption condition
Common Signs of a Vitamin B Deficiency
If you become deficient in Vitamin B, you may experience the following symptoms:
● Tiredness or fatigue
● Lack of concentration or confusion
● Poor memory and cognitive problems
● High level of stress and anxiety
● Skin rashes, brittle nails, and dry skin
● Anemia and gastrointestinal issues