Vitamin B Complex: Why You Need All 8 Nutrients (2024)

B vitamins are essential. They’re basically the Avengers of vitamins.

Your bod needs all eight to stay in tip-top shape. And, each provides its own special benefits to keep you healthy and happy. Here’s how they work.

Some B vitamins have shared functions — for example, most of them help convert food into energy. But each B vitamin also has a unique and crucial role. Vitamin B complex does everything from boosting brain function to supporting a healthy immune system.

FYI: B vitamins are water-soluble, which means they can’t be stored in your bod. You have to replenish your supply on the daily.

Here’s the lowdown on all eight B vitamins.

Vitamin B1: Thiamin

Thiamin is necessary for the growth and development of cells. You need it for energy production and a healthy nervous system.

Vitamin B2: Riboflavin

Riboflavin helps break down nutrients from food so your bod can use them. It also works with folate, B12, B6, and choline to keep your levels of hom*ocysteine (an amino acid) in check. High hom*ocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Vitamin B3: Niacin

Niacin helps produce sex and stress hormones. It also builds and repairs DNA 🧬. It even acts as an antioxidant to help keep inflammation levels low.

Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid is super important for the production of energy, hormones, and cholesterol. You need cholesterol for vital things like hormone production and synthesizing vitamin D from the sun 🌞.

Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine

Your bod needs vitamin B6 to create neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals help you feel good.

B6 is also important for the production of hemoglobin, which helps oxygen travel to your cells. And, like riboflavin, B6 helps regulate hom*ocysteine levels and keeps inflammation levels down.

Vitamin B7: Biotin

Biotin is best known for keeping hair, skin, and nails on point. A biotin deficiency can lead to brittle nails and thinning hair. But TBH, there’s no strong evidence that biotin supplements are beneficial if your levels are already healthy.

Biotin also helps you metabolize carbs and fats.

Vitamin B9: Folate

Folate supports red blood cell production, healthy cell growth and function, and DNA synthesis.

Vitamin B12: Cobalamin

Vitamin B12 is necessary for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and healthy brain function.

B vitamins, assemble! You need this team of vitamins for:

  • neurological development and brain function
  • sex- and stress-related hormone production
  • healthy immune system function
  • healthy skin, hair, nails, and eyes
  • proper nervous system function
  • cell growth and development
  • red blood cell production
  • a healthy digestive tract
  • energy production
  • liver function
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Vitamin B complex benefits for women

Everyone needs all the B vitamins, but women should pay special attention to folate, B6, and B12. These are particularly important if you’re preggo or breastfeeding. Vitamin B complex supports healthy fetus growth and development.

It may also make your monthly cycle more manageable. A 2011 study found that thiamin and riboflavin intake from food could reduce PMS symptoms. Some research also suggests vitamin B6 supplements can help alleviate the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.

Vitamin B complex benefits for men

Just like women, men need B vitamins to be healthy. There have been some claims that B vitamins might help increase testosterone levels and possibly help build muscle, but there isn’t enough solid research to prove this.

Men and women need roughly the same amounts, but age, medical conditions, pregnancy, and diet can also affect how much you need.

This chart outlines the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for each of the B vitamins according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

B1 (thiamin)1.2 milligrams (mg)1.1. mg1.4 mg1.4 mg
B2 (riboflavin)1.3 mg1.1 mg1.4 mg1.6 mg
B3 (niacin)16 mg14 mg18 mg17 mg
B5 (pantothenic acid)5 mg5 mg6 mg7 mg
B6 (pyridoxine)1.3 micrograms (mcg)1.3 mg1.9 mg2 mg
B7 (biotin)30 mcg30 mcg30 mcg35 mcg
B9 (folate)400 mcg400 mcg600 mcg500 mcg DFE
B12 (cobalamin)2.4 mcg2.4 mcg2.6 mcg2.8 mcg

Breastfeeding or pregnant people

You might need an extra boost of B if your eggo is preggo or if you’re breastfeeding. Folate, B6, and B12 are essential for fetus growth. Studies have shown that they help develop the brain and spinal cord.

Getting extra biotin is also uber-important. Biotin needs increase during breastfeeding.

Older adults

Older folks might have a harder time absorbing vitamins, because they tend to produce less stomach acid. Appetite also tends to diminish as people get older. Both of these factors can have a significant effect on B vitamin levels.

Vegetarians and vegans

Vegans and vegetarians should be extra mindful of their vitamin intake. Research has shown that it’s harder to get enough of certain B vitamins through a plant-based diet. Make sure you get enough fortified foods or supplements to keep your levels in check.

Medical conditions

Several medical conditions and procedures may prevent proper absorption of some B vitamins. These include:

  • celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • alcohol dependence
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • certain kidney conditions
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • HIV
  • gastric bypass surgery and other weight loss surgeries

If you have one or more of these conditions, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor. They can check your blood levels to see what’s up.

Some medications can block the absorption of B vitamins, putting you at a higher risk of deficiency. These include:

  • certain types of chemotherapy and other cancer drugs
  • long-term use of proton pump inhibitors
  • some blood pressure medications
  • medications for ulcerative colitis
  • anti-seizure medications
  • some antibiotics
  • diabetes medications

Talk with your doctor if you’re taking any of these medications. They can help you figure out the best way to get enough vitamin B.

So, what’s the best way to get vitamin B through your food?

Organ meats are rich in B vitamins. But if you’re not a fan of liver and onions, you’re still in luck. There are tons of other options for all dietary needs.

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin). You can find thiamin in whole grains, meat, fish, fortified cereals, and fortified breads.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin). If pâté isn’t your forte, you can opt for eggs, lean meats, milk products (like yogurt), fortified breads, and oatmeal.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin). In addition to organ meats, you can try beets, salmon, tuna, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. These choices rock the top of the niacin list.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). You’re prob getting enough B5 if you eat a variety of foods. Pantothenic acid is found in loads of veggies. Sweet potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, beans, and legumes are great choices. You can also nosh on nuts, fish, shellfish, dairy, and eggs.
  • Vitamin B6. Eat a rainbow 🌈 of foods for a healthy dose of B6. Opt for tuna, salmon, chicken, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, bananas, papaya, oranges, and cantaloupe. Eating these foods is the best way to keep B6 levels in the green zone.
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin). Red meat, eggs, oysters, seeds, nuts, salmon, avocado, and wheat bran are great sources of biotin.
  • Vitamin B9 (folate). Pack your plate with plenty of beans, peas, lentils, beets, avocado, wheat germ, and leafy greens (like spinach, kale, and arugula).
  • Vitamin B12. B12 is the only B vitamin found almost exclusively in animal products like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Breads, breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, and some other plant-based foods can be fortified with B12, but the amounts may vary greatly.

Most folks get enough B vitamins through a healthy diet, but others may need a B complex supplement to keep their levels in check.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, older adults, and those on restrictive diets (like vegan or vegetarian) may benefit from taking a supplement. Vegans and vegetarians should pay extra attention to their B12 intake.

The most common B vitamin deficiencies are:

  • folate
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin B12

In some cases, your doc might suggest a vitamin B12 shot. These are usually given to peeps who have a malabsorption issue. The shots can only be prescribed by a doctor.

Choosing the right supplement

Look for vitamin B supplements that have been tested and approved by an independent third party.

Look for certifications from:

  • Consumer Lab
  • The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)
  • The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP)

Keep in mind that these certifications don’t 💯 guarantee safety or effectiveness for everyone. That’s why you should always ask your doctor before adding a supplement to your daily routine.

Even in high doses, B vitamins are relatively safe because they’re water-soluble (which means you pee out the extra that your body can’t use).

But taking excessive amounts of certain B vitamins can lead to serious side effects. Too much niacin can cause vomiting and liver damage in extreme cases. And taking very high doses of B6 can lead to nerve damage.

This is why it’s super important to take only high quality supplements under the direction of your doc.

Get in touch with your healthcare pro ASAP if you’re taking a vitamin B supplement and notice any of these symptoms:

  • increased urination
  • abdominal cramps
  • excessive thirst
  • blurry vision
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

So, do you really need all the B vitamins? Yes x 8! Vitamin B complex supports hundreds of functions that keep you movin’ and groovin’ all day long. While deficiencies aren’t common, folate, B6, and B12 are the three nutrients to keep your eye on.

If you maintain a healthy, balanced diet, you should be good to go. But if you think you might “B” deficient, check in with your doctor. They can assess your levels and help you find a solution if necessary.

Vitamin B Complex: Why You Need All 8 Nutrients (2024)


What is one reason we need B-complex vitamins? ›

This is because the B-group vitamins are needed to help the body to use the energy-yielding nutrients (such as carbohydrates, fat and protein) for fuel. Other B-group vitamins are needed to help cells to multiply by making new DNA.

Is it good to take B-complex everyday? ›

You can't overdose on B vitamins, they're water soluble, so make sure you take a good B Complex vitamin and do that every day. The B Complex vitamin we have, this B Complex itself has close to 300 mg in a dose. 300 mg twice a day would be a great recommendation.

What are the 8 B-complex vitamins? ›

These 8 water-soluble vitamins are excreted in urine and require repletion daily. The B vitamins are identified as follows: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12).

What is the most important vitamin in the B-complex? ›

Vitamin B12 is one of many B vitamins which, together, are known as vitamin B complex. The body needs vitamin B12 to support brain and neurological function, to produce new red blood cells, and to create DNA. All B vitamins are essential for health.

What happens when you start taking vitamin B complex? ›

What is vitamin B complex useful for? B vitamins have a wide range of functions , including enabling the release of energy through metabolism and supporting the nervous system. Vitamin B complex is also useful for sleep disturbances, irritability, fatigue, anemia, mental health symptoms, and dermatitis, among others.

What to avoid when taking vitamin B complex? ›

Some products that may interact with this drug are: altretamine, cisplatin, certain antibiotics (such as chloramphenicol), certain anti-seizure drugs (such as phenytoin), levodopa, other vitamin/nutritional supplements.

How long does it take for vitamin B complex to work? ›

How long does it take for vitamin B complex to work? The anecdotal effects of B vitamins can be fairly immediate, although research has shown that B vitamins (in addition to vitamin C and minerals) make participants feel more alert within about 2 weeks.

Is it better to take B12 or B-complex? ›

Differences Between B12 and B Complex

B12 is a single vitamin, while B Complex is a blend of several B Vitamins—including B12. Though you can take B12 separately (and many plant-based people do), it's best to take them together, as the vitamins work synergistically to support energy, metabolism, and DNA/RNA synthesis.

What are the symptoms of lack of vitamin B complex? ›

People with vitamin B deficiency may experience:
  • fatigue, weakness or a general lack of energy.
  • numbness or tingling in their hands and feet.
  • weakened muscles and slow reflexes.
  • 'shakiness' when walking or difficulty keeping balance.

Is B-complex good for seniors? ›

People who are 65 or older may benefit from a B-complex supplement. Research shows that older adults are more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency. Some evidence suggests that having higher levels of B12 may help slow the aging of the brain.

Which brand of B-complex is best? ›

Summary: Best Vitamin B Complex Supplements Of 2024
ProductForbes Health RatingsLearn More
KLEAN Athlete B Complex4.4View More
Douglas Labs B Complex4.3Shop Now On Amazon
Nordic Naturals B Complex4.2Shop Now On Amazon
Klaire Labs Methyl Balance3.6Shop Now On Amazon
2 more rows
Jan 24, 2024

When to take vitamin B complex morning or night? ›

B vitamins

Because they're water-soluble, you can take them with or without food and at any time of the day. That said, it's often recommended to take B vitamins in the morning due to their important role in nutrient metabolism and energy production.

How do I know if I need B complex? ›

People with vitamin B deficiency may experience: fatigue, weakness or a general lack of energy. numbness or tingling in their hands and feet. weakened muscles and slow reflexes.

What is the main function of the B complex vitamins? ›

The B vitamins help enzymes in our bodies do their jobs and are important for a wide range of cellular functions, like breaking down carbohydrates and transporting nutrients throughout the body. The B vitamins play an inter-related role in keeping our brains running properly.

When should I use vitamin B complex? ›

Because of its energy-boosting abilities, the best time of day to take a B vitamin is after waking up. Also, recent research indicates that vitamin B-6 may potentially interfere with sleep and induce vivid dreams. To avoid this adverse effect, people may wish to take them earlier in the day.

Is it better to take B12 or B complex? ›

Differences Between B12 and B Complex

B12 is a single vitamin, while B Complex is a blend of several B Vitamins—including B12. Though you can take B12 separately (and many plant-based people do), it's best to take them together, as the vitamins work synergistically to support energy, metabolism, and DNA/RNA synthesis.

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