Like many people, I try to live a healthy life - I exercise, drink water, attempt to eat balanced meals, and I usually take a daily multivitamin. In doing a little reading about what sort of daily vitamins or supplements I should be taking, "B complex vitamins" kept popping up. Before my research, I'll be honest, I was kind of under the impression there was only one vitamin B. Nope! There are actually eight total B vitamins in the B vitamin complex (including commonly known supplements biotin and niacin), and they all play an important role in keeping our bodies and minds healthy inside and out!
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) - The first of the B complex vitaminsto be discovered, vitamin B1 helps keep our immune systems healthy and is required by our bodies to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which cells in our body use for energy.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B1 is 1.2 mg for men and 1.1 mg for women.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - Our bodies need riboflavin for cell growth, red cell production, and to help our bodies fight against free radical damage as an antioxidant. Free radicals can damage cells and lead to heart disease and cancer. In addition to these benefits, riboflavin is also required by the body to convert vitamins B6 and B9 into usable forms.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B2 is 1.3 mg for men and 1.1 mg for women.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)- Niacin is used to help lower cholesterol, ease arthritis, and boost brain function, according to Healthline. In addition, it may help lower blood pressure, protect insulin-protecting cells in those with type 1 diabetes, and protect skin cells from sun damage.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B3 is 16 mg for men and 14 mg for women.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) - Vitamin B5 is used as a supplement to help treat a wide variety of conditions including depression, diabetic nerve pain, and yeast infections, although more research and evidence is needed. Topically, pantothenic acid is used to help relieve itching skin for those with eczema, bug bites, or rashes. Some of its derivatives are also used in beauty products. For example, dexpanthenol is used in moisturizing creams and lotions, while panthenol helps boost hair health.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B5 is 5 mg for men and 5 mg for women.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)- Vitamin B6 plays a role in several vital functions in the body including creating neurotransmitters that boost our mood, keeping our brains healthy, and producing hemoglobin. Additionally, vitamin B6 may help treat and prevent:
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B6 is 1.3 mg for men and 1.3 mg for women.
Vitamin B7 (biotin) - You probably recognize biotin as the vitamin used to help with hair, skin, and nail health, but it can also help lower blood glucose levels and reduce nerve damage (neuropathy) in those with diabetes, and improve symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Biotin is also often recommended to women who are pregnant, as pregnancy can deplete vitamin B7 levels and cause a deficiency and lead to birth defects and complications.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B7 is 30 mcg for men and 30 mcg for women.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid) - Another vitamin that is commonly prescribed to pregnant women is folic acid. This is due to folic acid's role in the production of DNA and RNA, our body's genetic material. In addition, folic acid plays a role in brain function and helps regulate mood, and works with vitamin B12 to create red blood cells. Did you know that folic acid is actually the synthetic form of vitamin B9? Naturally occurring vitamin B9 is called folate and can be found in foods like leafy green vegetables.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B9 is 400 mcg for men and 400 mcg for women.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) - In addition to working with vitamin B9 to create red blood cells, our body needs vitamin B12 to keep our bones, brains, hair, skin, nails, and eyes healthy. Plus, it helps with serotonin production, energy levels, and brain health.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B9 is 2.4 mcg for men and 2.4 mcg for women.
How B Complex Vitamins Work in the Body
Now that we've covered what each of the B complex vitamins does individually, we can discuss how they all come together to help our minds and bodies function. As mentioned above, our body requires B complex vitamins to metabolize food and convert it to useable energy, but they also play a vital role in the following:
Brain Health and Function: Getting the proper amount of B vitamins is vital for brain health, and preventing cognitive decline. One review found that vitamins B6, B9, and B12 all play a role in homocysteine metabolism, which has been linked to reducing the risk of developing cognitive diseases such as dementia. B vitamins involved in supporting brain health: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, and B12
Red Blood Cell Production and Health: Nearly all of the B complex vitamins are required in the production of red blood cells but in particular vitamin B12. Studies have found that those with a vitamin B12 deficiency cannot produce enough red blood cells (anemia), which are vital as they carry oxygen to the cells in our body. Additionally, vitamin B5 helps lower cholesterol, while vitamin B6 aids in the production of hemoglobin, a protein molecule part of red blood cells that helps to transport oxygen to the cells. B vitamins involved in red blood cell production: B2, B5, B6, B9, B12
Nervous System, Hair, Skin, and Nail Health: B complex vitamins like vitamin B2 and biotin are known for hair, skin, and nail health, but they and the other B vitamins play a huge role in keeping our nervous system functioning properly. Vitamin B6 is required for the creation of almost all of our neurotransmitters, or our chemical messengers. Vitamin B12 helps keep our central nervous system healthy, while folic acid helps to prevent nerve damage and neuropathy.
B vitamins involved in the nervous system, hair, skin, and nail health:B1, B2, B3, B6, B12
Hormone Production: Both vitamins B3 and B5 are required to create adrenal hormones such as cortisol and testosterone. Vitamin B6 is especially important for the hormones that impact mental health and mood, as B6 is required to create the neurotransmitters that regulate our mood-changing hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. B vitamins are involved in hormone production: B3, B5, B6.
Managing Stress:B complex vitamins may help alleviate stress symptoms due to their close tie to nervous system health. A strong nervous system is thought to be able to handle stress and the symptoms that follow better than a weakened nervous system. While more research is needed to further connect B complex vitamins and stress, one study found that after 33 days of taking a vitamin B supplement, 215 male participants reported "significant improvements in self-perceived stress, general health, and vigor."
Are You Getting Enough B Complex Vitamins?
As you can see, the B complex vitamins do a lot of work to keep our bodies and minds healthy and balanced, but when we don't get enough, certain health problems can arise. Vitamin B deficiency usually occurs in older adults and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, but certain health conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, HIV, and alcohol use disorder can also lead to vitamin B deficiency as they prevent the body from properly absorbing and using the nutrient, or flushes it out too quickly.
Vitamin B deficiency symptoms vary depending on which of the B complex vitamins you're lacking in your routine. Here are the signs you might be deficient in:
Vitamin B1 -Vitamin B1 deficiency is rare in most developed countries as thiamine can be found in nearly all fortified food. That being said, it is rare, not impossible, and could result in:
Vitamin B2 - Similarly to vitamin B1, it is quite rare to be deficient in vitamin B2, as it is usually ingrained into common foods in a developed diet. That being said, NIH explains that those who do develop riboflavin deficiency may experience:
Hyperemia (excess blood) and edema of the mouth and throat
Cheilosis (swollen, cracked lips)
Itchy and red eyes
Degeneration of the liver and nervous system
Vitamin B3 - Again, in most western countries, being deficient in vitamin B3 is rare, but is associated with stomach cramps and digestive issues for those that are lacking in the vitamin. Not getting enough vitamin B3 can also lead to a condition called pellagra, often accompanied by one or more of these symptoms:
neurological findings such as depression, lethargy, hallucinations, and paresthesias of the extremities
Vitamin B9- Folate deficiency is most commonly seen in women who are pregnant but can happen to anyone who is not getting proper nutrition. Symptoms of a vitamin B9 deficiency include:
shortness of breath
open sores in the mouth
changes in skin, hair, or fingernail color
Vitamin B12 - When talking about vitamin B deficiency, generally people are referring to a lack of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is primarily found in meat and dairy products, so those who are vegan or dairy-free may be at a bigger risk for being deficient in B12. That being said, not enough vitamin B12 can lead to:
tiredness or fatigue
loss of appetite
numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
soreness of the mouth or tongue
physiological problems such as dementia, paranoia, depression, and behavioral changes
How to Add B Complex Vitamins to Your Routine
Generally, if you don't have any underlying health conditions and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you should get your recommended daily intake of B complex vitamins. To ensure your diet is balanced, make sure you're adding foods that are rich in one or more B complex vitamins. Here are a few of our favorites:
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
yeast and nutritional yeast
Some individuals such as older adults, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those who have certain chronic health conditions, or on a vegetarian or vegan diet still need additional resources to get enough B complex vitamins into their routine, so they may turn to dietary supplements or a multivitamin. If you're considering adding a B complex vitamin or supplement to your diet, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider first. If they give you the all-clear, make sure to look for a reputable brand that is transparent with their ingredients like 1 Body. Here are some things to look for in a B complex vitamin supplement:
All of the B Complex Vitamins Listed - Because what's the point of taking a B complex vitamin if they're not all there? Look for all eight B vitamins on the supplement facts label - they'll likely be listed as their chemical name with the B vitamin it is in parentheses. Don't be afraid to Google while you're shopping as well! These supplements are going in your body for your health, you have a right to know what's in the formula.
Free of Artificial Dyes & Colors - A reputable, safe brand like 1 Body will formulate its supplements without artificial dyes, colors, or flavors. Artificial dyes have been found to contain toxins and have been linked to inflammation of the immune system amongst other health concerns.
Look for the Active Forms - For optimal performance, certain B vitamins need to be in their "active form", such as folate or folic acid. This is why 1 Body created their B complex vitamin formula to contain magnafolate brand I-methylfolate, which converts folic acid into its active form methylfolate.
Vegan & Gluten-Free Formulas - Safe, reputable supplement brands usually create their formulas to be both vegan and gluten-free. For example, 1 Body's B complex vitamin formula is vegan and vegetarian friendly and contains ZERO sugar, salt, dairy, wheat, gluten, soy, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.
Although it is difficult to overdo it on B vitamin intake, as they're water-soluble and are flushed from the system, you may feel some mild side effects if you take too much, too fast. Stop taking B complex vitamin supplementations and contact a healthcare provider if you start to experience:
All eight of the B complex vitamins play a vital role in both our physical and mental health, so ensuring we get enough is extremely important for our overall health. If you're looking to add a B complex vitamin or supplementation to your routine, try 1 Body! If you aren't completely 100% satisfied with our Vitamin B Complex formula and its amazing benefits, you can return for a full refund within 90 days.
Vitamin B Complex
SUPER B COMPLEX VITAMINS – Get the benefit of a full-spectrum B vitamin complex that includes all B vitamins, including B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, Niacin, Folate, and Biotin.
IMPROVED ENERGY – Great for men, women, and children, B vitamins are scientifically proven to support metabolism and ATP energy production.
MOOD SUPPORT & STRESS RELIEF – B vitamins support nervous system health, stress relief, mood, and overall well-being.
HEALTHY HEART – Numerous studies have found that B vitamins may reduce the risk of heart failure in men and lower the risk of death from stroke or heart disease in women.
HIGH-QUALITY B VITAMINS – Our b vitamin complex uses the highest-quality ingredients and our vitamin b complex capsules are vegan-friendly. Manufactured in the USA at a cGMP laboratory.