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Vitamin B Complex: Use, Benefits, Side Effects, Foods

Vitamin B Complex Important

B vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Though these vitamins share similar names, they are chemically distinct compounds that often coexist in the same foods. In general, dietary supplements containing all eight are referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific number or name of each vitamin: B1 = thiamine, B2 = riboflavin, B3 = niacin, etc. Some are better known by name than number: niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin and folate.

Each B vitamin is either a cofactor (generally a coenzyme) for key metabolic processes or is a precursor needed to make one.

what is vitamin b complex

The vitamin B-complex refers to all of the known essential water-soluble vitamins except for vitamin C . These include thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine ( vitamin B6 ), biotin , folic acid and the cobalamins ( vitamin B12 ).

"Vitamin B" was once thought to be a single nutrient . Researchers later discovered these extracts contained several vitamins, which were given distinguishing numbers, leading many people to the erroneous conclusion that these vitamins have a special relationship to each other. Further adding to confusion has been the "unofficial" designation of other, non-essential vitamins, as members of the B-complex, such as choline, inositol, and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA).

Each member of the B-complex has a unique structure and performs unique functions in the human body. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and biotin participate in different aspects of energy production, vitamin B6 is essential for amino acid metabolism, and vitamin B12 and folic acid facilitate steps required for cell division.

Each of these vitamins has many additional functions, though none that require all B-complex vitamins simultaneously. Human requirements for each B vitamin vary considerably—from 3 mcg per day for vitamin B12 to 18 mg per day for vitamin B3 in adult males, for example. So, taking equal amounts of each one—as provided in many B-complex supplements—makes little sense. Megadoses of B-complex vitamins sometimes taken to combat everyday stress, boost energy, or control food cravings, do not appear to offer benefit unless a person is deficient in one or more of them.

Most multivitamin-mineral products contain the B-complex along with the rest of the essential vitamins and minerals. Since they are more complete than B-complex vitamins alone, multiple vitamin-mineral supplements are recommended to improve overall micronutrient intake and prevent deficiencies.

Benefits and uses

Vitamin B-complex supplements may help with certain health problems. If a person has any of the conditions listed below, they may benefit from taking a supplement that contains B vitamins:

Migraine episodes
Some research suggests that certain B vitamins could help prevent migraine with aura, specifically:

vitamin B-6
vitamin B-9
vitamin B-12
The researchers also suggest that vitamin B-2 could help prevent migraine by influencing mitochondrial dysfunction, which occurs at the cellular level.

Authors of a review study from 2017 looked at the effects of vitamin B-2 on migraine. They report that this vitamin is well-tolerated and effective at reducing migraine frequency in adults, though they recommend further research.

Depression and anxiety

Authors of a study from 2018 state that vitamin B-12 levels play an important role in the development and presentation of depression and anxiety. They report that participants with depression or anxiety had lower levels of B-12 than their control counterparts.

A meta-analysis found that B vitamins could help with depression in certain cases. The researchers said that taking some B vitamins regularly for several weeks to years could reduce the risk of depression relapse.

A small-scale study in India also suggested that B-9 and B-12 deficiencies play a role in depression and anxiety.

Skin wounds

B vitamins may help the skin heal.

One study found that, when applied to the skin, these vitamins helped wounds heal more effectively. Another study found that B-12 improved wound healing in mice with diabetes.

Canker sores

Vitamin B-12 may be helpful in treating canker sores, also known as oral ulcers. A double-blind study found that a B-12 ointment relieved pain better than a placebo.

PMS

Some evidence suggests that taking a combined supplement of B-6 and calcium improves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

A systematic review and meta-analysis also found vitamin B-6 to be helpful in controlling physical and psychological PMS symptoms.

What foods is it found in?

Lots of foods contain B vitamins, which makes it easy to get enough from your diet. It’s best to get your B vitamins from a wide variety of food sources. This helps to ensure you’re getting enough of each type.

You can find vitamin B in:


  • milk
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • liver and kidney
  • meat, such as chicken and red meat
  • fish, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • shellfish, such as oysters and clams
  • dark green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • vegetables, such as beets, avocados, and potatoes
  • whole grains and cereals
  • beans, such as kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas
  • nuts and seeds
  • fruits, such as citrus, banana, and watermelon
  • soy products, such as soy milk and tempeh
  • blackstrap molasses
  • wheat germ
  • yeast and nutritional yeast


Who should take B-complex vitamins?

The following sections look at who may benefit from taking vitamin B-complex supplements.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women may benefit from taking vitamin B-complex supplements.
B vitamins are particularly important during pregnancy, when a woman should take in least 400 mcg of folic acid every day. Ideally, this would also occur in the months before getting pregnant.

In addition, pregnant women should be consuming folate — the natural form of folic acid — from food sources. Getting the recommended amounts of folic acid and folate reduces the risk of birth defects involving the brain and spinal cord, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pregnant women also need plenty of vitamin B-12. Studies show that vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to early pregnancy loss, low birth weight, high blood pressure in the woman, and fetal abnormalities.

Vegetarians and vegans

People who follow a vegetarian diet do not eat meat, including beef, poultry, and fish. People following a vegan diet do not eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Vegetarian and vegan diets can increase a person’s risk of B-12 deficiency. The vitamin is present in many animal-based foods, including meat, eggs, and dairy.

People who eat eggs and dairy products may be getting the B-12 that they need from these foods, but those who eat no animal products may need supplements.

People who have had gastric bypass surgery
Individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, often need vitamin supplements.

Research indicates that this surgery increases a person’s need for B-12. There is further evidence that many people need a multivitamin that includes B vitamins and other nutrients after this surgery, at least in the short term.

Older adults

People who are 65 or older may benefit from a B-complex supplement.

Research shows that older adults are more susceptible to vitamin B-12 deficiency. Some evidence suggests that having higher levels of B-12 may help slow the aging of the brain, but confirming this finding requires further research.

Low levels of B-12 and folate — a dietary equivalent of folic acid, or vitamin B-9 — may be associated with depression in older people, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis.

In addition, a study involving older Latino adults found that higher B-6 levels were linked to decreased depression symptoms.

People with other health conditions

A person with any of the following health conditions may benefit from a vitamin B-complex supplement:


  • alcohol dependence
  • an autoimmune condition, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or type 1 diabetes
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • a malabsorption condition, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease
  • kidney disease
  • HIV
  • heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • AIDS
  • cancer


What is vitamin B complex used for?

B vitamins play a vital role in maintaining good health and well-being. As the building blocks of a healthy body, B vitamins have a direct impact on your energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism.

How much vitamin B complex should I take daily?

Recommended daily allowances of B2 are 1.3 mg a day for men and 1.1 mg a day for women. Pregnant women need 1.4 mg daily, and breast-feeding mothers should have 1.6 mg each day. You can get this B vitamin from natural sources such as nuts, green vegetables, meat, and dairy products.

What is in a vitamin B complex?

The vitamin B-complex refers to all of the known essential water-soluble vitamins except for vitamin C . These include thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine ( vitamin B6 ), biotin , folic acid and the cobalamins ( vitamin B12 ).

Is it OK to take B complex everyday?

You're unlikely to get too much vitamin B complex from your diet. That's because B complex vitamins are water soluble. That means they aren't stored in your body but are excreted in your urine daily. You're also unlikely to get too much vitamin B if you're taking any supplementation as directed.

What are the side effect of B complex?

VITAMIN B Complex Capsule Side Effects by Likelihood and Severity
A Feeling Of General Discomfort Called Malaise.
A Skin Rash.
A Sleep Disorder.
Confusion.
Decreased Appetite.
Depression.
Erythema Or Skin Redness.
Gas.

Vitamin B Complex: Use, Benefits, Side Effects, Foods Vitamin B Complex: Use, Benefits, Side Effects, Foods Reviewed by King's Man on June 16, 2020 Rating: 5

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