What is Vitamin B-Complex?
The Vitamin B-complex is composed of all 8 of the B vitamins – B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). As a complex of all 8 vitamins, it contributes to your overall body functioning. Due to the numerous benefits of each B vitamin, they will help your body work better when taken as a supplement in cases of deficiency.
Sources of B Vitamins
To name a few, salmon, leafy greens, meat, milk, eggs, seafood, legumes, yoghurt, nutritional yeast, nuts, and seeds are great sources of B vitamins. You are not likely to develop a deficiency if you follow a balanced diet. As important components of the human body, they show an impact on your energy levels, cell metabolism, and brain function.
B vitamins are included in the supplements of pregnant and breastfeeding women, helping them manage energy levels. Sometimes, B vitamins are also included in testosterone-boosting supplements since they help in hormone regulation.
Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency
Causes of deficiency vary from vitamin to vitamin but some common causes include inadequate intake, malabsorption due to health conditions, alcohol abuse, genetic disorder, and interaction with certain medications.
Below are some common symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency.
- Pale Yellow Skin
- Mouth Ulcers
- Motor Function Issues
- Gradual Loss of Sight
- Memory Loss
If you face any of the above symptoms and you are sure you don’t know why, consult your doctor since these symptoms can come with many underlying conditions. It is always wise to consult for diagnosis.
Risks of Vitamin B Deficiency
If you have symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency and you don’t get a diagnosis and treatment, it can increase your risk for certain health conditions. If left untreated, a deficiency increases the risks for the following conditions:
- Digestive Issues
- Skin Conditions
- Peripheral Neuropathy
Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common and this, in particular, increases your risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. Research is being conducted on the role of vitamin B12 deficiency in other conditions too.
Should you take supplements of Vitamin B-Complex?
With a balanced diet, your body will absorb enough nutrients and vitamins including B Vitamins. However, if you have symptoms of vitamin B deficiency and your doctor confirms it, it is important to take supplements to avoid further health conditions. After proper diagnosis, you will be told if you are deficient in any specific B vitamin, depending on which you have to take a specific vitamin B supplement or vitamin B-complex supplement.
Health professionals recommend supplements for the following categories:
- People around or above 50 years
With age, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases along with decreased appetite. Older people don’t release enough stomach acid to release B vitamins from the food they consume leading to deficiency. Hence, doctors suggest they take vitamin B-complex.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
B-complex is known to reduce the risk of birth defects and help in the brain development of the foetus. It helps in the brain development of the foetus in the womb, supporting its healthy growth. It also helps pregnant and breastfeeding women manage energy levels and provide enough nutrition for themselves and the baby.
- Individuals with chronic health conditions
People with conditions like celiac disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, hypothyroidism, and alcohol abuse might develop vitamin B nutrient deficiencies. Individuals with a history of weight loss surgeries might face this too, which is why proper consultation and treatment are important.
- People who follow a strict no-meat diet and cancel on other sources
B vitamins are richly found in non-vegan food sources like meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood. Since vegetarians don’t consume any of such foods, they are more likely to develop a deficiency if they don’t get enough B vitamins through fortified foods or supplements.
- Individuals taking certain long-term medications
Some medicines that are a part of common prescriptions can lead to vitamin B deficiency. To name a few of such medicines, metformin, birth control pills, and medicines that decrease stomach acid.
Benefits of Vitamin B-Complex
Since B vitamins are water-soluble, they are carried to your body tissues instead of being stored in your body fat. The B vitamins help your body enzymes to do their part in maintaining your bodily functions and overall health. It is also important for the efficiency of cellular metabolism in your body.
- Healthy Brain Function
All of the 8 B vitamins play an integrated and interrelated role to make sure your brain functions as it should. Adequate amounts of B vitamins are crucial for proper brain function in a healthy body. It also ensures optimal neurological and physiological functioning. Research says that a healthy amount of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can play a remarkable role in the prevention of a neurological disorder called Parkinson’s disease.
- Reduces Stress & Boosts Mood
B-Complex vitamins are often used to reduce stress and boost an individual’s mood. Some studies even support its ability to lift your spirits and improve cognitive performance. A database from the National Institute of Health suggests that treatment with a high dosage of B-complex and mineral supplements resulted in better mental health, reduced stress, and better results on cognitive tests. The same study resulted in reduced mental fatigue among young adults.
- Cancer Prevention
B vitamins are believed to prevent various types of cancer after due research. The right amount of B vitamins in the human body can resist the development of cancerous growth. Though it is a subject still under study, it has been evident in cases of skin cancer. Vitamin B is known to reduce the risk of Melanoma, in particular. Studies are being conducted to know the effect of B vitamins in treatments of various other types of cancer, which might bring significant development in cancer treatments. Many institutes are working on important research that will further the benefits of B-complex vitamins and help the health sector.
- Reduces Anxiety & Depression
It must be acknowledged that B-complex vitamins don’t cure mental health disorders. They help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, which is good enough in itself. Compared with placebo (seemingly real medical treatment), treatment with B-complex vitamins in multiple studies led to significant betterment of anxiety and depression in individuals. It is also known to enhance response to treatments when dosed in combination with antidepressant medications. It is also important to rule out nutrient deficiencies when you are experiencing any symptoms of depression.
Side Effects of B-Complex Vitamins
B vitamins are water-soluble and hence it is unlikely to consume them in high amounts through food. It is also not a likely situation when you take supplements as directed by your doctor. However, taking supplements with unnecessary additives and high quantities of B vitamins can lead to serious side effects.
- High doses of B3 (niacin) can lead to nausea and vomiting. It may also increase your blood sugar levels, and cause skin flushing and liver damage.
- Unnecessary dosages of B6 (pyridoxine) can lead to nerve damage, low sensitivity, and painful lesions on the skin.
- B-complex supplements can often result in urine that is bright yellow in colour. It might be alarming, but remember that it is not dangerous. It is just your body getting rid of excess vitamins that are of no use to your functioning.
- Your stomach might be mildly upset, but it is only temporary and disappears as your body begins to adjust to the supplements.
- A serious allergic reaction to B-complex vitamins is a rare case, but given you face any symptoms like rashes and itching near the face and mouth, troubled breathing, and severe dizziness.
- If any of the side effects get worse, you should immediately consult your doctor for treatment.
Since vitamin supplements are not regulated by Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should make sure you buy them from a trusted and reputable brand or practitioner. This helps you make sure you are consuming supplements without additives and of high quality. It is also important that you consult your doctor with any questions regarding the dosage.