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Vitamin B-Complex: Benefits, Side Effects, Doses, and More

Vitamin B-complex is not one but a combination of eight different vitamins. Our body needs all the B vitamins as they convert food into energy. 

With B-complex, you get the essence of all the B vitamins in a pill. Some of these pills contain the recommended daily allowance, while others have higher dosages.  

One can get all the B vitamins from different food sources, but people can also benefit from B-complex supplements. 

Factors like pregnancy, age, medical conditions, medications, genetics, and alcohol use may mean our body needs more vitamin B-complex. 

Scroll down to learn everything about vitamin B-complex: dosage, side effects, benefits, and more. 

What is Vitamin B-Complex?

Our body does not store B vitamins as they are water-soluble. That's why we must have a diet that includes all these vitamins so our bodies can function properly. 

If a product has vitamin B-complex, it has some of each of the following:

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): It is needed for proper function and growth of organs like the heart and brain. 
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): With the right amount of vitamin B2 in the body, fats and drugs can be broken down. 
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Vitamin B3 helps in having healthy digestion, skin, and nerves. It also helps in improving cholesterol levels.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): A proper amount of vitamin B5 in the body helps have a healthy nervous system and brain. 
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Our body requires vitamin B6 to make new red blood cells. It also strengthens the immune system. 
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Vitamin B7 helps with healthy nerve function, hair, and nails. 
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid): The body requires folic acid to make DNA. Pregnant women are advised to consume vitamin B9-rich food to reduce birth defects risk. 
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Blood cells and nerves require an adequate amount of vitamin B12 to function properly. 

Each vitamin helps in proper body functioning. That means you can take vitamin B-complex to get all these vitamins so your body can function properly. 

Potential Benefits and Uses of Vitamin B-Complex 

In certain situations, people are medically advised to include vitamin B-complex in their diet. But anyone can take B vitamin supplements to have increased levels of nutrients in their body. 

Below are a few benefits and uses of vitamin B-complex:

Reduce Stress and Boost Mood 

Vitamin B-complex helps reduce fatigue, boost mood, and improve cognitive performance. 

High levels of B-complex and mineral supplements in the body can improve general mental health and stress. Also, it can enhance performance on cognitive tests. 

Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression 

Vitamin B-complex cannot be classified as a cure for mental health conditions, but it surely helps in improving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

B vitamins can also be taken in combination with antidepressant medication to improve the treatment response. Low levels of B vitamins like B12, B6, and folate in the blood levels can increase the risk of depression. 

Helps with Migraines 

Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 are known to prevent migraine. In addition, vitamin B2 can also prevent migraine by influencing mitochondrial dysfunction that happens at the cellular level. 

Healthy Brain Function 

B vitamins help in healthy brain functioning. It ensures optimal neurological and physiological functioning. In addition, a particular B6 vitamin helps in the prevention of neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease. 

Canker Sores 

Vitamin B12 helps in treating canker sores like oral ulcers. B12 ointment can be used along with primary treatment for adjunctive therapy. 

PMS

Taking a combined supplement of B6 with calcium can improve the symptoms of PMS. B6 is known to help in controlling psychological and physical PMS symptoms. 

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Who Should Take Vitamin B-Complex?

Here's who may benefit the most from taking vitamin B-complex supplements:

Pregnant Ladies 

During pregnancy, one should consume vitamin B-complex, particularly vitamin B9, to prevent birth defects in infants. Pregnant ladies with the MTHFR gene are also advised to use methylated folate to prevent folic acid from breaking down. 

The best way to include vitamin B9 is to consume folate, a natural form of folic acid from food sources. It reduces the risk of birth defects like brain issues. 

In addition, maternal supplementation with vitamin B12 can reduce the risk of deficiency of this vitamin in infants. Pregnant ladies with a lack of vitamin B12 can face low birth weight, fetal abnormalities, early pregnancy loss, and high blood pressure. 

Vegetarians and Vegans 

These people need to maintain a balanced level of B vitamins in their bodies. As vegans don't eat animal products like eggs, dairy products, or meat, and vegetarians don't eat meat, they need vitamin B-complex supplements. 

A vegan or vegetarian diet can increase the risk of lack of vitamin B12, as this vitamin is present in animal-based foods. That's why these people need B-complex supplements. 

People Who Had Gastric Bypass Surgery 

Anyone who has undergone gastric bypass surgery needs to include a sufficient amount of B vitamins in their diet. That's because bariatric surgery increases a person's need for B12.

Older Adults 

Older people, especially 65 years and above, need to have B-complex supplements in their diet. As a person ages, their body lacks vitamin B12, which increases the risk of brain-related problems. 

Also, low B12, folate, or vitamin B9 levels are related to depression in older people. 

People with Other Health Conditions 

A person with health conditions like kidney disease, depression, diabetes, alcohol use disorder, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, or heart disease can benefit from vitamin B-complex. 

Dosage Recommendation 

One can get a sufficient amount of B vitamins from a variety of food items. But people who are over the age of 50, have gastritis, digestive disorders, or Crohn's disease are at risk of B vitamins deficiency. 

In addition, people who drink alcohol regularly or have had stomach or weight surgery also need a proper amount of B vitamins in their bodies. Similarly, pregnant and breastfeeding ladies need B6, B12, and folate. 

Here's a list of recommended dosages of the 8 B vitamins:

Vitamins Men Women 
B1 1.2 mg 1.1 mg 
B2 1.3 mg1.1 mg
B3 16 mg14 mg
B5 5 mg5 mg
B6 1.3 mg 1.3 mg
B7 30 mcg30 mcg
B9 400 mcg400 mcg
B12 2.4 mcg2.4 mcg

Side Effects and Risks of Vitamin B Complex 

As B vitamins are water-soluble, the body excretes the extra amount in the urine. While everyone is advised to maintain a standard B vitamins level in the body, taking a high dose can result in possible side effects, which include:  

  • A high amount of vitamin B3 in the body can cause high blood pressure. It's possible because, in higher amounts, vitamin B3 can get in the way of diabetes medicines. Therefore, anyone with high blood pressure should not take too much vitamin B3. 
  • High amounts of nicotinic acid can also lead to headaches, fatigue, low blood pressure, and more. It can increase bleeding and cause diarrhea. In fact, doses of vitamin B3 higher than 3,000 mg can cause liver damage and vomiting. 
  • Similarly, excess amounts of folic acid can result in anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. 

If your body has higher levels of B-complex, it can change urine color to bright yellow. It's a temporary effect because once your kidney has rid of extra B vitamins, the color will return to normal. 

Which Food Contains B Vitamins?

You can take vitamin B-complex supplements and food items containing several B vitamins. Ideally, animal products have a good source of B vitamins. 

Common food items rich in B vitamins are beef, pork, nuts, milk, avocado, fish, cheese, grains, legumes, mushrooms, yogurt, leafy greens, and more. 

Signs of B Vitamins Deficiency

If you do not include a proper amount of B vitamins in your diet through supplements or food items, you might face symptoms like skin rashes, fatigue, weakness, anemia, scaly skin, cracks, constipation, diarrhea, swollen tongue, and more. 

When you experience any of these symptoms, you need to visit a doctor. The symptoms show that your body has B vitamins deficiency, but these symptoms can overlap with other underlying conditions.

Signs of B Vitamins Overdose

If your body has higher levels of B vitamins, you might experience issues like blurry vision, diarrhea, excessive thirst, nausea, and increased urination. If you often experience these symptoms, you must consult a doctor to take immediate action. 

Conclusion 

Everyone should try to maintain a balanced level of B vitamins in their diet through healthy foods and supplements. You can easily find vitamin B-complex supplements in the drug or online stores. 

It's advised to consume vitamin B-complex supplements in a recommended amount. Taking very high doses will only lead to health complications. 

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