What exactly are these benefits of Vitamin B Complex? Think extra energy, stress relief, improved skin and hair, weight loss, efficient digestion, immune system support and mental clarity. Unlocking the benefits of B vitamins can be a game changer. In this blog we’ll explain why B vitamins are so important, how to get the most out of them, and how to include them in your diet.
What are B Complex Vitamins?
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B complex refers to a group of B vitamins that work together to support the body’s metabolism, energy production and brain function. These vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin, (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). B vitamins are water soluble, meaning that the body does not store them, so they need to be replenished daily either through the food you eat or by taking them as supplements.
The Benefits of B Vitamins
Essential for health and wellness, B complex vitamins support energy levels, give improved skin and hair, help with weight loss, and help good digestion. They also boost the immune system and support mental clarity.
Being aware of the importance of getting sufficient B complex vitamins can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. B vitamins are essential for an extensive catalogue of vital functions, including:
- Energy production
- Cognitive function
- Heart health
- Thyroid health
- Anxiety relief
- Efficient metabolism
- Sound sleep
- Stress management
- Improved memory
- Muscle health
- Brain function
- Improved concentration
- Strong nails
- Effective vision
- Mood enhancement
- Weight management
- Cell regeneration
- Balanced diet
- Efficient digestion
Understanding the Different Roles of B Vitamins
Because Vitamin B affects so many important bodily functions, and each B vitamin has a unique job to do, it’s good to familiarise yourself with the role each of them plays in keeping you healthy.
Thiamine plays an important role in energy production via the metabolism. This is because it helps the body break down and release energy from food. It especially supports the body in producing energy from carbohydrates. Thiamine also helps keep the heart and muscles functioning efficiently.
Good sources of thiamine from your diet:
- wholegrain bread
- fortified breakfast cereals
The recommended amount of B1 needed per day* for an adult is approximately:
- 1mg for men
- 0.8mg for women
Thiamine must be consumed daily as the body can’t store it.
Riboflavin helps to maintain healthy skin, eyes, and nerves. It is essential for energy production, metabolism, and red blood cell formation.
Good sources of riboflavin from your diet:
- plain yogurt
- fortified breakfast cereals
The recommended amount of vitamin B2* per day for an adult is approximately:
- 1.3mg for men
- 1.1mg for women
Riboflavin must be consumed daily as the body can’t store it.
Niacin helps your body to generate energy. It also gives support to your nervous system and helps to keep skin healthy.
There are two types of niacin – nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Foods with Vitamin B3 include:
- wheat flour
The recommended amount of vitamin B3* per day for an adult is approximately:
- 16.5 mg for men
- 13.2 mg for women
Niacin must be consumed daily as the body can’t store it.
Pantothenic acid helps with energy production and boosts the health of skin, hair, and nails. It plays an important role in regulating hormones, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.
Good sources of pantothenic acid from your diet:
- green vegetables
- wholegrain bread
- liver and kidneys
- breakfast cereals if they are fortified with pantothenic acid (check ingredients label)
There has been no recommended amount set on how much pantothenic acid you need but if you eat plenty of vegetables, wholemeal bread, and some choices from the above list, you should be getting what you need.
Pyridoxine helps the body to utilise and store energy taken from protein and carbohydrate foods. It plays a part in making haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
Good sources of pyridoxine from your diet:
- meats, particularly pork, chicken, and turkey
- soya beans
- wheatgerm (in wholemeal bread)
- breakfast cereals if they have been fortified with vitamin B6)
The bacteria living in your bowel also make vitamin B6.
The amount of vitamin B6 recommended per day* for adults is approximately:
- 1.4 mg for men
- 1.2 mg for women
Biotin helps the body produce fatty acids. It also helps to generate energy, support skin and hair health, and balance hormones. Biotin also helps to regulate cholesterol, blood sugar, and the metabolism. You only need very small amounts.
Because the bacteria living in the bowel naturally produce biotin, it’s not known whether more is needed from the diet. A wide variety of foods do contain small amounts of B7 anyway, so you probably get enough through your normal diet.
One of its most important roles is protection against birth abnormalities in a developing foetus. Folate reduces the risks of neural tube defects such as spina bifida so is an essential vitamin during pregnancy.
Vitamin B9 helps the body make red blood cells. A lack of folate can result in a type of anaemia known as megaloblastic anaemia where red blood cells are larger than normal. These enlarged cells are oval-shaped, rather than round and they don’t live as long as normal red blood cells.
Folate also helps to produce energy and supports healthy skin, hair, and nails. It regulates hormones, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.
Reasons why you may have low folate levels are:
- Not eating enough foods with folic acid
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Certain diseases of the lower digestive tract, such as celiac.
- Taking certain medications such as those used to treat seizures
- Pregnancy, as the developing baby needs more folic acid
Symptoms of folate-deficiency anaemia:
- Pale skin
- Decreased appetite
- Lack of energy
- Smooth and sore tongue
If you suspect that you are deficient in folate you should see your doctor to get a diagnosis as these symptoms may be similar to other blood-related conditions.
Although folate is present in a wide range of foods, it is also produced for supplement purposes. This type of vitamin B9 is known as folic acid.
Good sources of folate in your diet:
- brussels sprouts
- spring greens
- kidney beans
- liver (but not advisable during pregnancy)
- breakfast cereals when fortified
The amount of folate recommended per day* for adults is approximately:
- 200 micrograms for both men and women (a microgram is 1,000 times less than a milligram)
Folate cannot be stored by the body so needs to be frequently replenished either from diet or by supplement.
During pregnancy it is recommended that you take a 400-microgram folic acid supplement daily until you are 12 weeks pregnant. If you are planning to start a family, it’s advisable to begin taking a folic acid supplement as soon as you begin to try to start a pregnancy. A talk with your doctor is advisable to check on whether you might benefit from taking a slightly higher dose of folic acid until your 12th month of pregnancy.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in some foods. It is also available as a dietary supplement and as a prescription medication. B12 is known as cobalamin because it contains the mineral cobalt, and various compounds with vitamin B12 activity are collectively named cobalamins.
There are two main types of B12, methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is a naturally occurring form of the vitamin present in your food, whereas cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form and is often used for producing supplements
Our Wholefood Multivitamin and Mineral capsules contain B12 in the form of Methylcobalamin. As this is a naturally occurring form your body can absorb and utilise it more efficiently than a synthetic form.
Vitamin B12 helps your body utilise folate and works closely with B9 to make red blood cells. B12 plays a part in producing energy from your food and supports healthy skin, hair, and nails. It also helps to regulate hormones, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels. Vitamin B12 has an important role in the production of red blood cells, as well as being a key player in supporting a healthy nervous system.
A lack of B12 could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia. It can also result in symptoms of fatigue, nerve damage, digestive problems, and neurological issues such as depression and memory lapses.
Good sources of vitamin B12 from your diet:
- breakfast cereals when fortified
The amount of vitamin B12 recommended per day* for adults is approximately:
- men and women both need about 1.5 micrograms
If you regularly eat meat, fish, or dairy you should be eating sufficient B12 but if you follow a vegan diet, you most probably won’t be getting sufficient as it is not present in vegetables, fruits, grains, or pulses.
Although no longer classed as a vitamin, inositol warrants a mention here. You may sometimes hear of inositol being referred to as vitamin B8, but strictly speaking, inositol is actually a sugar which occurs naturally in fruits, beans, whole grains, and nuts. It plays an important role in the body as a component of cell membranes, and it also affects the way insulin works to control blood sugar. Inositol also affects certain chemicals that transmit information in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine.
It’s possible to get sufficient inositol from your diet to supply your body’s needs, but researchers have found that taking it as a supplement at a dose of 18 grams per day shows very promising results.
Studies have also delivered very encouraging findings that inositol has potential to be used as an alternative treatment for mental health conditions, with fewer side effects than traditional drugs.
Maximising the Benefits of B Vitamins
Just to recap on the essential work carried out by Vitamin B Complex: giving support to brain function, cognitive development, energy production, metabolism, hormone regulation, protecting unborn baby from birth defects, cardiovascular function, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and the advantages of having healthy skin, hair, and nails.
It’s impossible to ignore the importance of consuming the right types and amounts of B vitamins, so when it comes to ensuring you include them in your regular diet, the foods that you need are mostly staples such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Spring greens
- Chickpeas and kidney beans
- Breakfast cereals that are fortified with folic acid
- Liver (not during pregnancy)
If you are in doubt that you are getting sufficient variety, there are other steps you can take to ensure you are covered. Taking a B complex vitamin supplement takes away the doubt about whether you are getting the right amount.
Getting enough rest and exercise is something you need to strive for as this will help your body maximise the benefits of your vitamin B intake.
Potential Side Effects of Vitamin B Complex
Although B complex vitamins are essential for overall health, it is important to note that taking too much of any of these vitamins can have possible side effects including nausea, headaches, and other symptoms. It is advisable to follow the dosage instructions if you decide to take B complex supplements.
Taking Vitamin B Complex as a Supplement
Many products on the market are made using synthetic B Vitamins. Not only is this often a much cheaper way to produce the product, but your body will not utilise the vitamins efficiently. Most of the nutrients will pass straight through your body!
Be sure to source a wholefood or food-state form of B Vitamins. They are naturally produced and are very similar to the Vitamins found in food.
If you are in doubt that your diet alone can regularly provide sufficient amounts of the various B complex vitamins, you may wish to opt to take a B complex supplement. Our Super B Complex dietary supplement is food-state and contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, folic acid, inositol, and B12, along with certain necessary minerals. Our capsules are suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets, as well as anyone with candida and yeast sensitivities. They are free from dairy, wheat, gluten, live yeast, soy, added sugars, colourings, flavourings, and preservatives.
The recommended daily intake is: 2-4 tablets daily, or as advised by a doctor.
We also offer a Wholefood Multivitamin and Minerals supplement that provides 23 different vitamins and minerals including good levels of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12. They are made using hydroponically grown cruciferous vegetables and are also free from dairy, wheat, gluten, live yeast, soy, added sugars, colourings, flavourings, and preservatives.
*The daily recommended intake amount according to standard NRVs established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Some vitamins and minerals have a safe upper limit (SUL), speak to a health professional if unsure.
When it comes to keeping you informed on health and nutrition, we’re here for you and aim to help where we can.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.