Do you ever find yourself feeling irritable, groggy or having difficulty concentrating? This general feeling of malaise that seemingly has no cause can easily become a huge burden and interfere with your day-to-day life, your job or your studies. You don’t feel sick, but something is wrong.

If this sounds familiar, you might have a vitamin B deficiency. This complex vitamin impacts many important functions in the human body, so a vitamin B deficiency can have wide-ranging effects on your health. In this article, we will go through everything you should know about this group of nutrients, providing you with the necessary tools to get back to feeling like your normal self in no time.

Key Facts

  • Vitamin B isn’t just one single vitamin. It’s different molecules that combine to form the vitamin B group or vitamin B complex.
  • These vitamins regulate the body functions related to energy production, the creation of new cells and the maintenance of the body’s nervous system, among other things.
  • Although consuming large doses of B vitamins doesn’t produce short term side effects, we recommended choosing supplements that don’t exceed the daily recommended dosage for these vitamins.

Ranking: The best vitamin B products on the US market

We’ve selected the five best vitamin B products for our Ranking after studying the various supplements available on the market. This selection is based not just on the highest vitamin B content, but also the nutritional balance of each product and how satisfied customers have been with the item.

No. 1: Garden of Life – Vitamin Code Raw B-Complex

This vitamin B complex from Garden of Life supports mental and physical energy, blood health, heart health, immune system health and a healthy response to stress. It contains a handful of important nutrients including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B-12, biotin and folate.

The Raw B-Complex is non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free and dairy free—a safe choice for everyone looking to get the benefits of vitamin B. Take two capsules each day with or without food, and that’s 100% daily value or more of the B-complex vitamins, as well as live probiotics and enzymes for digestive support. This product comes in 60 or 120 count, to meet your individual needs.

No. 2: Divine Bounty Vitamin B Complex

Divine Beauty’s extra-strength formula gives you all the essential B vitamins in just one single capsule, so you can meet the recommended daily values easily and affordably. Each capsule contains more than 620mg of the vitamin B complex, and is free from GMOs, dairy, gluten and animal products, so it’s safe for vegans and vegetarians.

This product combines the eight essential B vitamins—B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12—with their nutrient cousins inosital and choline. By doing so, it helps your body absorb the B vitamins. Each bottle has 90 capsules, so you won’t need to constantly restock, and you can even sign up for recurring deliveries so you don’t need to worry about refills at all!

No. 3: Mary Ruth’s Organic Liquid Drops B Complex

Unlike many of the vitamin B products out there, this one comes in liquid form, for easy absorption of water-soluble B vitamins. It comes in a tasty pomegranate cherry flavor, so that the whole family can enjoy its benefits from one serving of just 15 drops.

This product is formulated by MaryRuth Ghiyam, a health educator, nutritional consultant and chef, and her family-owned company. They offer a manufacturer’s warranty and a happiness guarantee, so be sure to try this product and feel the difference in your life.

No. 4: Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12

If you’re not looking for the whole B complex, but instead just vitamin B12 for healthy energy production levels, vitality and brain health, then look no further. This bestselling product from Jarrow Formulas comes with 60 or 120 lozenges in three great flavors: lemon, cherry and tropical. They can be chewed or left to dissolve in the mouth.

Jarrow Formulas uses the most bioavailable form of B12, methylcobalamin, which doesn’t require conversion in the liver in order to be biologically active. These lozenges provide efficient, effective delivery of the nutrient, and they’re suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

No. 5: Solaray Timed Release Mega Vitamin B-Stress

Feeling stressed? If so, this special product from Solaray is meant just for you. It’s specifically designed for those who experience stress most often, and it also addresses other important bodily functions like impulse transmission and immune system function.

Solaray’s Mega Vitamin B-Stress VegCaps are fast acting, but also long lasting, releasing half the ingredients instantly and the other half gradually over an eight-hour period, to keep you feeling great all day. Solaray was founded in 1973, and has been pioneering healthy supplements ever since. Their vitamin B capsules are free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about vitamin B

Vitamin B are nutrients necessary for the human body to function properly. Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B7 aid with the production of energy, while vitamin B6 regulates protein metabolism and vitamins B9 and B12 are required for cellular multiplication and division.

Vitamin B promotes better health.
(Source: Puhhha: 69595913/ 123rf.com)

What are B vitamins?

Vitamins are substances with unique importance for homeostasis, or the stable equilibrium of the body. These tiny molecules can’t be produced by the body from other elements, so they must be consumed on a day-to-day basis in order to keep their levels steady.

When B vitamins were first studied, experts thought they were a single molecule. It was later confirmed that many different types of vitamin B exist, and each was identified by a number. This classification now includes over twenty individual molecules.

Today, the B vitamin group includes eight essential nutrients: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12):

Vitamin Most important functions
Thiamine (B1) Oxygen metabolism

Metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats

Energy production

Transmission of nerve impulses

Riboflavin (B2) Oxygen metabolism

Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Metabolism of other vitamins

Energy production

Detoxification of harmful products

(Possible) antioxidant function

Niacin (B3) Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Energy production

Hormone production

Growth and development

Transmission of nerve impulses

Lower blood pressure

Maintenance of skin integrity

Pantothenic acid (B5) Metabolism of oxygen

Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Synthesis of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Transmission of nerve impulses

Pyridoxine (B6) Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Energy production

Protein synthesis

Cell growth and maintanence

Biotin (B7) Metabolism of oxygen

Metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats

Cellular division and multiplication

Blood sugar level maintenance

Folic acid (B9) Growth and maintenance of new cells

DNA replication

Fetal development

Metabolism of other vitamins (principally B12)

Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12) Growth and maintenance of new cells

Development and protection of the nervous system

Red blood cell production

Maintenance of the intestines

What are the benefits of B vitamins?

B vitamins (also known as B complex vitamins or B group vitamins) serve as enzymatic cofactors, that is, as essential elements to produce chemical reactions that control nutrients’ metabolism, form new cells and control nerve impulses.

Even though we can study each of these essential nutrients individually, the most important functions of these vitamins result from the balanced combination of the eight molecules that make up the B complex. The below list displays the primary processes dependent on the B group vitamins:

  • Energy production
  • New cell production
  • Protection of cellular integrity, particularly rapidly replicating cells (skin, hair and nails)
  • Maintenance of normal vision
  • Regulation of digestion
  • Appetite control
  • Maintenance of normal brain function
  • Regulation of the nervous system
  • Hormone production
  • Muscle growth
  • Promotion of fertility
  • Better fetal health and health during pregnancy
  • Reduction of fetal defects
  • Possibly increases testosterone production in men

What happens if you don’t have enough vitamin B?

Because B vitamins regulate many of the body’s chemical reactions, deficient levels may result in a general metabolic imbalance, which will be worse the more intense the hypovitaminosis (vitamin deficiency) is. Some people, including those listed below, are more likely than others to experience a lack of the vitamin B complex:

  • Pregnant or lactating women: pregnant women need a higher quantity of nutrients to support their baby’s proper development. Specifically, folic acid (vitamin B9) in increased amounts is required for proper fetal neural development.
  • Older adults:Adults aged sixty and older have been shown to be more likely to face various nutritional deficiencies.Their ability to absorb vitamins decreases, and at the same time, their likelihood of having hypovitaminosis goes up.
  • People with conditions that impact intestinal absorption: Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and HIV are diseases that affect the absorption of nutrients in the body, increasing the risk of B vitamins deficiency.
  • People with alcohol problems: Alcohol negatively impact the absorption, storage and activation of B vitamins (in particular, B1, B6 and B9). People who drink alcohol very frequently are at higher risk of a vitamin B deficiency.
  • Vegans and vegetarians: A balanced vegan or vegetarian diet should provide seven of the eight essential B Vitamins. Vitamin B12, however, is found almost only in animal-based products, so it should be supplemented in a plant-based diet in order to avoid a deficiency.
  • People with demanding lifestyles:Chronic stress has been shown to decrease levels of vitamin B6, thereby increasing those people’s risk of facing a nutritional deficiency.
  • Smokers: Abnormally low levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 have been found among people addicted to tobacco, thus upping their chances of having a B complex deficiency.

Vitamin B deficiency may manifest itself as fatigue and weakness in the initial stages. Later on, other unpleasant symptoms will appear, including dry skin, cracked lips, digestive discomfort and constipation. If hypovitaminosis is not resolved, the prognosis will likely worsen and even more severe issues will appear such as:

  • Premature aging (presence of grey hairs before age 30)
  • Red and inflamed tongue
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Mood disorders
  • Numbness in the toes and hands
  • Anemia
  • Frequent infections
  • Memory loss
  • Deterioration of vision
  • Impaired fetal development (in pregnant women)
  • Increased incidence of cancer (especially colon and breast)

Which foods contain B vitamins?

Any balanced diet will contribute to maintaining healthy levels of B vitamins (except for vitamin B12 in vegan and some vegetarian diets). In general, fresh and minimally processed foods (whole foods are best) will be good sources of B vitamins. The main sources of the vitamin B group can be seen in the following table:

Vitamin Recommended daily dosage Dietary sources
Thiamine (B1) 1.2 mg Pork, eggs, whole grains, nuts, sunflower seeds.
Riboflavin (B2) 1.3 mg Fish, white meat, red meat, eggs, whole grains, avocado.
Niacin (B3) 14 mg Liver, tuna, peanuts, chicken, avocado, whole grains.
Pantothenic acid (B5) 5 mg Seafood, chicken, pork, dairy,  eggs, legumes.
Pyridoxine (B6) 1.3 mg Chickpeas, tuna, liver, salmon, bananas, chicken.
Biotin (B7) 0.03 mg (30 micrograms) Red meat, avocado, nuts, salmon, eggs, dairy.
Folic acid (B9) 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) Green leafy vegetables, eggs, legumes, citrus, asparagus.
Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12) 0.0024 mg (2.4 micrograms) Seafood, chicken, red meat, tuna, nutritional yeast.

Bear in mind that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) in the above chart refers to the needs for an average adult. In the case of children, pregnant women and those suffering from chronic diseases, the recommendations may be different. A nutritionist can offer recommendations for unique cases.

How could I benefit from a vitamin B complex?

If you’re unable to get all the necessary nutrients through your daily diet, a supplement that includes the eight essential B vitamins is a good option to help you meet your nutritional needs. If you belong to one or more of the following groups, a vitamin B supplement will offer you a number of benefits:

  • People who hope to age in a healthy manner: How vitamins B6, B9 and B12 may contribute to preventing cognitive deterioration in the elderly is being studied. Additionally, proper levels of B vitamins have been linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular issues in the elderly.
  • People seeking to improve the look of their skin, hair and nails: Some experts claim that consumption of B group vitamins is more effective than cosmetics for improving the appearance of the skin, limiting nail fragility and supporting hair growth.
  • Workers under stress:A handful of studies reveal that those who consume B vitamin supplements are better able to handle chronic stress caused by work.
  • Students: Normal levels of B complex vitamins may help students reduce stress (particularly at exam times), avoid mental fatigue and maintain normal cognitive abilities.
  • Athletes: B vitamins are important for energy metabolism and muscle growth. Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 can help boost athletes’ performance.
  • People on weight-loss diets: Weight-loss diets tend to limit caloric intake in a significant way. Supplementing with a vitamin B complex will guarantee the required supply of these nutrients to maintain an active metabolism.
  • Vegans and vegetarians: Vegans (and sometimes vegetarians) often need to make a vitamin B12 supplement part of their diet in order to prevent hypovitaminosis. Most vitamin B complex supplements contain B12, so they’re a great addition to any vegan diet.
  • People who hope to offset the negative effects of tobacco or alcohol: Vitamin B supplements can help decrease the oxidative effects caused by years of tobacco or alcohol use and addiction.
  • People facing mental exhaustion, apathy or irritability: Although vitamin B can’t replace medication for psychiatric conditions, B complex has been shown to relieve feelings of mental fatigue and boost some people’s mood.

Although pregnant women will benefit from a supplement containing B9 and B12, there are specific prenatal and postnatal supplements that are suitable for pregnancy and lactation. If you’re pregnant, we would recommend that you speak with your doctor. They can recommend a supplement that best suits your needs and your baby’s.

There’s no doubt that B vitamins can help you improve your general well-being. You can use these supplements sparingly, to address periods of stress like exams and work projects, or you can use it over long periods of time to bolster your appearance and limit the effects of aging.

A balanced diet helps the body maintain proper vitamin B levels.
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What kinds of vitamin B complex are available?

The majority of vitamin B supplements provide the eight most crucial vitamins in this complex. Still, you can find special products tailored to the needs of certain groups. In the below list, you’ll see the most common B complex formulations available:

  • B Vitamins for women over 40: This vitamin complex has high amounts of folic acid and biotin, which are good for older women’s skin, nails and hair.
  • B Vitamins for athletes: These supplements provide all of the daily requirement for vitamin B6, along with other nutrients of the B group. This type of product may also include other compounds that can boost sports performance, like magnesium or L-carnitine.
  • B Vitamins to preserve intellectual functioning:In this kind of supplement, vitamins B6, B9 and B12 combine to address the nutritional deficiencies that can appear during particularly challenging periods (exams, projects and long work shifts).
  • B Vitamins for vegans and vegetarians:These supplements contain the daily value of vitamin B12 to prevent any issues from a lack of B12 in plant-based diets (such as anemia, nervous disorders, fatigue and digestive problems).
  • B vitamins for weight loss:Usually, these supplements contain the full daily value of all the B vitamins. They help dieters maintain metabolic balance and control appetite while preventing any unwanted nutritional deficiencies.

Despite all this, those who begin supplementing with B vitamins can select a “standard” complex that offers the range of essential nutrients in the B group of vitamins. That way, you can get all of the advantages of B vitamins (for athletic, intellectual, aesthetic or health purposes).

How should I take my vitamin B supplement?

Don’t worry! Vitamin B supplements are the very simple and easy to use. You just need to follow the instructions on the bottle, or a doctor’s recommendations. If you still have questions, look at the following section. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding B vitamins.

  • What dosage?We suggest selecting a supplement that contains 100% of the recommended daily amount for the eight most essential B complex vitamins. Usually, this will be equivalent to one dose of the supplement, taken once per day.
  • What time?The absorption of these supplements is not affected by the time of the day you take it. Nonetheless, some nutritionists advise taking the supplement in the morning so you can take advantage of the energy-enhancing impact of some B vitamins.
  • With a meal or on an empty stomach?B group vitamins are water-soluble molecules (they are dissolved in water). Therefore, their ability to dissolve is high and they can be consumed on an empty stomach or alongside a meal, with about the same effectiveness.
  • How do I store my supplement?Most supplements can be stored in a cool, dry place, and be sure to keep the container tightly shut and avoid exposing it to sunlight. Some special items (such as liquid B vitamins) may need refrigeration.

Don’t forget that supplements have an expiration date. Consuming an expired vitamin B supplement shouldn’t be dangerous, but its effectiveness may be limited and you might not experience any results.

Lana BurgessDoctor and health blogger

“Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, low mood and nerve problems.”.

What precautions do I need to take while supplementing with B vitamins?

Vitamin B supplements are considered safe for general public consumption. Because these nutrients are water-soluble, any excess will be eliminated naturally by the urine. Even though the body saves small amounts of some compounds (like B12), it’s nearly impossible for negative side effects to result from an excessive build-up.

Still, a study of healthy men revealed that supplementing with excessive doses of B complex vitamins (1000% or more of the RDA) can up the likelihood of getting some types of cancer. This doesn’t occur with the B vitamins consumed via food or moderate supplementation.

Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 can support better fitness and boost athletic performance.
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Additionally, excessive amounts of B vitamins can result in digestive discomfort (primarily heartburn and nausea). We therefore suggest choosing a supplement that provides 100% of the RDA, and does not exceed that limit. An especially high dose of these vitamins won’t provide any additional benefit or cause the supplement to work more quickly.

How much do vitamin B supplements cost?

Vitamin B supplements are usually very affordable. Many products are priced between 10 and 20 dollars, so you can supplement for an extended period at a reasonable cost. Prices still vary from one product to another, largely depending on the manufacturer’s reputation.

You will see vitamin B supplements that contain additional nutrients, like L-carnitine, plant extracts such as GinkgoBilobaor brewer’s yeast, and these may have a higher price tag compared to other supplements, as they offer additional benefits.

Shopping criteria

In this section, you’ll learn how to differentiate between various vitamin B supplements. Vitamin B supplements are very popular and there are many options available, so it’s good to have a solid understanding in order to pick the best product for you.

  • Interactions with medication
  • Allergens
  • Vegan and vegetarian diet
  • Methylation
  • Form of administration
  • Value for money

Interactions with medication

Vitamin B supplements don’t often cause interactions with commonly used drugs (such as over-the-counter pain killers, contraception, blood pressure medications and anti-diabetic drugs). Nonetheless, there have been issues seen in people taking supplements while also taking anti-epileptic treatments.

For this reason, you should speak with your doctor if you suffer from epilepsy or a nerve conduction disorder prior to starting any supplementation with B vitamins. Keep in mind that no nutritional supplement can replace the necessary medical treatment tailored to each individual’s needs.

Vitamin B can help improve your physical and mental well-being.
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Allergens

Vitamin B supplements sometimes contain products that aren’t suitable for those with intolerances of gluten, lactose or soy. Some have additives like magnesium stearate. High quality supplements should indicate on the packaging if they are free of allergens. If there is no mention of the most common allergens, they are most likely present.

Vegan and vegetarian diet

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you should pick a vitamin B supplement that provides at least 100% of the RDA for B12. Additionally, be sure to select a complex that doesn’t contain animal compounds in its ingredients. This includes vitamin capsules, which need to be made from a cellulose derivative rather than gelatin.

Methylation

Many vitamins have to go through a process of activation in the body (known as methylation) before they’re able to function in cellular metabolism. However, up to 30% of people may have some sort of defect that prevents or limits the methylation process for B vitamins.

It is therefore recommended to select a supplement that provides vitamins in their activated form (methylated), ready to be used by the body. Methylated compounds normally appear in the ingredients with the prefix “methyl”, and methyltetrahydrofolate (the active form of folic acid or vitamin B9).

Viatcheslav Wlassoff, PhDScientific and medical consultant

“Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is an essential vitamin for the proper functioning and development of the brain and nerve cells”.

Form of Administration

You can choose among a number of different supplement formats according to what’s most comfortable for you. In most cases, nutrient effectiveness and absorption won’t be affected by the method, so this decision depends solely on your personal preferences.

    • Tablets:Tablets or hard capsules are the most basic form of supplementation. Their storage and preservation are simple, but some people have difficulty swallowing these pills.
    • Soft capsules:Soft capsules normally have liquid content inside. The texture is much easier to handle. Vegan consumers must ensure that capsule coating doesn’t contain gelatin.
    • Oral spray: This method is a consumer favorite, allowing them to supplement in just a few seconds. Some sprays can be used on food, offering another easy way to take these supplements.
    • Drops or liquid:This method also allow you to supplement quickly, easily and cleanly. The price may be a bit higher than other items and the product may require refrigeration.
    • Powder:This form of supplementation is popular among athletes, who often use powder to boost the nutritional content of their favorite drinks or protein shakes.
    • Lollipops:This form of supplementation has also become very popular, offering a pleasant and sweet way to take your vitamins. But these can also be very pricey.

Value for money

Some people insist that the benefits of vitamin B are visible just a few days after beginning supplementation. However, many studies of the vitamin require a minimum of three months prior to being able to truly see the effects.

For this reason, we recommend purchasing enough to take for at least two or three months for starters. Bear in mind that these nutritional supplements do expire.

Summary

B group vitamins are a great addition to any balanced diet. These nutrients are water-soluble and don’t accumulate in harmful levels, so they’re a safe and convenient option to help you maintain energy levels and better health.

Vitamin B complex regulates some reactions in the body. For this reason, you should definitely pick a high-quality supplement and take it in the recommended daily dosage. If you maintain good levels of vitamin B, your health will improve as a result.

If you enjoyed this guide to B group vitamins, please leave a comment below and share this article via social media.

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