Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex is a group of 8 essential B vitamins responsible for converting food into energy and supporting several vital functions. From digestive health to brain function to mood, B vitamins are critical to giving you the boost you need to feel focused and energized.
What Is Vitamin B Complex?
Vitamin B complex is a group of eight water-soluble B-vitamins essential to maintaining various systems and functions in the body. The eight vitamins in B complex are:
- B1 — Thiamine
- B2 — Riboflavin
- B3 — Niacin
- B5 — Pantothenic acid
- B6 — Pyridoxine
- B7 — Biotin
- B9 — Folate
- B12 — Cobalamin
Common sources of B vitamins include cheese, eggs and fish, as well as leafy greens, avocados and beans. Many people get sufficient B nutrients through their diet, but you can also supplement your intake with a vitamin B complex.
Benefits of Vitamin B Complex
Medical and health benefits of Vitamin B complex include helping improve mood, boost brain function and ease anxiety.
Vitamin B complex has long been associated with mood regulation, and research suggests that depression is common in people with a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in brain and nervous system function and helps with the production of red blood cells. Without B12, your body can’t absorb folic acid, which affects your mood and energy levels.
The relationship between B vitamins and mood appears to be a two-way street. Chronic stress can also deplete vitamin B6—a nutrient that helps produce the neurotransmitter, serotonin, also known as the "happy chemical."
One study found that after four weeks of taking vitamin B complex supplements, along with vitamin C and minerals, participants' self-reported mood and mental health improved.
Boosts Brain Function
In the same ways that B vitamins help improve mood and energy, they also support brain function. B6, B9 and B12 help break down homocysteine, an amino that, in high levels, is linked to Alzheimer's disease and dementia. In addition to protecting cognitive function, vitamin B complex can also help promote neurogenesis—the growth of new neurons.
Vitamin B complex is also essential for brain development. If you're vitamin B6 deficient, your body may produce fewer red blood cells, limiting the supply of oxygen throughout your body and brain. Vitamin B complex can support your physical and mental stamina by improving circulation.
Many people take vitamin B complex for anxiety. Both magnesium and B vitamins are anxiolytic—molecules with anti-anxiety properties to help ease nervousness, fear, apprehension and depression.
Researchers have learned that a deficiency in folic acid (from vitamin B9) is often linked to anxiety and depression. Additionally, B vitamins are essential for your adrenal glands, which produce the stress hormone, cortisol. Persistently high cortisol leaves you feeling anxious and nervous and can impact sleep. Taking vitamin B complex can help regulate your adrenal glands and manage the physiological effects of chronic stress.
Studies on Vitamin B Complex
Researchers are currently investigating how vitamin B complex may help reduce the risk of particular conditions, including migraines and stroke.
Vitamin B complex benefits and side effects are being studied on people who experience migraines. Some researchers believe that high homocysteine levels can cause acute migraines. Since vitamins B6 and B12 help metabolize homocysteine, supplementing with B complex may help prevent migraines related to vitamin B deficiencies.
Researchers completed 11 clinical trials to study the effects of riboflavin (B2) on migraine-prevention. Riboflavin helps metabolize fats and carbohydrates and calm the nervous system. The trial results showed a mixed effect of riboflavin:
- 5 cases showed a consistently positive effect on adults with migraines
- 4 cases showed a mixed effect on adolescents and children with migraines
- 2 cases showed no benefit for migraines
The relationship between vitamins and stroke-prevention have been studied for years, and many researchers continue to examine how B complex can regulate homocysteine. If a person has a deficiency in B12, their body can’t metabolize fats and carbohydrates efficiently, putting them at a higher risk of stroke.
Studies have shown that B vitamins have significantly reduced the number of strokes associated with high levels of homocysteine.
Vitamin B Complex in Summary
Vitamin B complex is an essential group of eight vitamins your body needs to maintain health. From regulating mood and stress levels to improving focus and concentration, vitamin B complex is beneficial in helping you perform at optimal levels.
Research continues to find new ways vitamin B contributes to overall health, and the research so far has been promising. By eating a rich and diverse diet, you can help ensure you’re reaping the benefits of vitamin B complex.