B Complex


All 8 Essential B Vitamins


Vitamin B complex supplements contain all eight essential B vitamins. Essential vitamins are not made in the body and need to be obtained from food or nutritional supplements. They are used by enzymes which rely on them as fuel to either begin a biochemical process or progress it forward to completion. Generally, these vitamins can be found in a variety of foods, particularly vegetables and meats. But cooking, freezing and processing foods can decrease their nutrient content. Additionally, vegans and some vegetarians may have an increased need for some nutrients because they don’t eat animal products. Taking a B complex supplement with a combination of every essential B vitamin can help fill nutrition gaps.

B Vitamins In B Complex Dietary Supplements:

  • Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
  • Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3 - Niacin
  • Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid
  • Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
  • Vitamin B7 - Biotin
  • Vitamin B9 - Folate
  • Vitamin B12 - Cobalamins

Each vitamin plays an important role in the body. While taking a single dietary supplement that is missing one or more of the above B vitamins may be enough to maintain overall health and wellness, taking them together offers convenience and extra assurance that daily nutritional requirements are being met.

Potential Benefit Breakdown


Many B vitamins support similar functions within the body, but they do so in different ways. Taking a supplement with only one B vitamin because it shares similar potential benefits with another B vitamin may result in an imbalance. When taking all B vitamins in a B complex supplement, potential benefits may cover many areas of the body and may support:

  • Energy production
  • Central nervous system
  • Digestive system
  • Learning, memory, focus, and clarity
  • Healthy-looking skin, hair, and nails
  • New or expecting mothers
  • Fetal development
  • Red cell production
  • Cardiovascular system
  • DNA synthesis
  • Cellular development
  • A normal mood and behavior
  • Feelings of health and wellness
  • ... and more

Research into the potential benefits and role of each B vitamin is ongoing, but there is a fundamental understanding of how each functions in the body. Below is an outline of each B vitamin found in a B vitamin complex and how it supports the body as it is understood today.


Vitamin B1 - Thiamine

The primary role of vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is to convert carbohydrates from sugars, starches, and fiber into glucose (blood sugar). (1) Glucose is the molecular form of simple and complex sugars that are able to cross cellular barriers and enter cells where it is used as a fuel source.

In order to enter cells, glucose must use the pentose phosphate pathway that is regulated by thiamine. (2) In turn, the pentose phosphate pathway uses glucose to function, which makes it a natural regulator of blood sugar. However, a diet high in calories and carbohydrates can disrupt this pathway. When the body becomes burdened with excess carbohydrates, the availability of thiamine can drop and result in a deficiency that can cause health concerns .

When thiamine levels become too low, the body is no longer able to regulate the pentose phosphate pathway. This can result in excess glucose that can then bind with red blood cells, causing poor oxygenation. This can cause glucose to block or damage the pathways that cells need to receive glucose and oxygen. Research has found that glucose regulation is important to the central nervous system (3), the brain (4), the heart (5), and the eyes (6).

Thiamine May Support:

  • Blood sugar levels already within the normal range
  • Carbohydrate metabolism
  • Energy production
  • Memory, learning, and focus
  • Vision during normal aging
  • Temporary relief from occasional symptoms associated with alcoholism, beriberi, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (7)

When not taken as a supplement, thiamine can be found in whole grains, meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, legumes, oranges, and tomatoes. In a B complex supplement, thiamine levels can range from less than 1 mg to over 100 mg. These levels are believed to be tolerated by most people, but individual needs may vary.

Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a precursor to the coenzyme flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN). (8) These coenzymes carry electrons that support reactions necessary for energy production and the function of metabolic pathways. When found in the body, riboflavin supports the metabolism of fats, drugs, steroids, amino acids, and the activation of iron, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B9.

Riboflavin also supports the glutathione redox cycle, which supports the activation of glutathione without the need for intermediary synthesis. (9) Glutathione is an antioxidant found in plants, animals, and bacteria and plays an important role in disrupting the oxidation that occurs when cells come in contact with free radicals, reactive oxygen species and environmental toxins. When taken by humans, glutathione supports the liver and detoxification.

Riboflavin May Support:

  • Energy production
  • Cellular development
  • Free radical scavenging antioxidants
  • Detoxification
  • Activation of vitamins B3, B6, and B9
  • Metabolism of fats, drugs, steroids, and amino acids
  • Eye comfort
  • Tongue color and overall appearance
  • Digestion
  • The eyes

Riboflavin can naturally be found in brewer’s yeast, almonds, meats, whole grains, wheat germ, soybeans, dairy products, eggs, and green vegetables. In a B complex supplement, riboflavin levels can be found in a range of less than 1 mg to over 50 mg. With excess riboflavin intake, some people have reported skin discomfort, urine discoloration, or light sensitivity.

Vitamin B3 - Niacin

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is found in the body as either nicotinic acid or niacinamide. (10) Nicotinic acid is believed to support the cardiovascular system and may help maintain cholesterol levels already within a normal range. Niacinamide supports the pancreas and the production of insulin, may support healthy-looking skin, and seeks to support cognition. In total, niacin supports more than 400 enzymes, including the production of NAD and NADP, which are essential in the catabolism of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and alcohol. NAD is also involved in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. (11)

Niacin May Support:

  • May help to maintain “good” LDL cholesterol already within the normal range
  • Digestion
  • Energy levels
  • Abdominal comfort
  • Cardiovascular circulation
  • Clarity, memory, and learning
  • Mood and behavior
  • Healthy joints and mobility

Niacin can be found in beets, brewer’s yeast, beef liver and kidney, fish, sunflower seeds, eggs, and peanuts. In a B complex supplement, niacin levels can range from less than 1 mg to over 50 mg. Some side effects people report include flushing of the skin, general discomfort, abnormal heart rhythm, shortness of breath, jaundice, confusion, dizziness, or ligament pain.

Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid

Pantothenic acid, more commonly known as vitamin B5, is essential for the synthesis of coenzyme-A (CoA) and the synthesis and metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. (12) Vitamin B5 also plays a role in the oxidation of fatty acids that are used in the citric acid cycle (TCA). (13) TCA, also known as the Krebs cycle, is a series of chemical reactions that convert the energy in nutrients into carbon dioxide and chemical energy. Unfortunately, vitamin B5 is more sensitive to heating and cooling and may be lost when foods are processed.

Pantothenic Acid May Support:

  • Carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism
  • Fatty acid oxidation
  • Energy production
  • Red blood cell production
  • Riboflavin synthesis

Natural sources of vitamin B5 include fresh foods, including most vegetables, unrefined grains, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, milk, legumes, sunflower seeds, and seafood. In a B complex supplement, pantothenic acid levels can range from less than 1 mg to over 50 mg. Not much is understood about vitamin B5 deficiencies or overdosing. In cases of high dosing, diarrhea may occur. Additionally, it is reported that high levels of biotin may compete with pantothenic acid for uptake in the digestive system. (14)

Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 goes by several other names, including pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. (15) The primary role of this vitamin is to help metabolize fats and protein. Pyridoxine also supports healthy-looking skin, the development of hair follicles, the eyes, and the liver. At the molecular level, it supports more than 100 enzymatic reactions that are involved in the metabolism of amino acids, glucose, and lipids. Vitamin B6 also supports clotting factors in the cardiovascular system and the synthesis of hemoglobin that is essential for the transport of oxygen in the blood. (16)

Pyridoxine May Support:

  • Fat and protein metabolism
  • Healthy-looking skin
  • Red cell production
  • Amino acid metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter production
  • DNA replication and development

Pyridoxine can be found in chickpeas, beef liver, fish, bananas, marinara sauce, dairy products, and nuts. In a B complex supplement, vitamin B6 levels can range from less than 1 mg and up to around 100 mg. When taking pyridoxine, some people report sensitivity to light, headaches, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and loss of appetite.

Vitamin B7 - Biotin

Vitamin B7, better known as biotin, or the “beauty” vitamin for its role in the metabolism of the amino acids that structure proteins found in the hair, skin, and nails. (17) Besides supporting outer beauty, biotin also helps the body regulate DNA production, cellular division, and supports metabolic pathways. (18) Vitamin B7 has also been examined for its role in the central nervous system and digestive tract. As a result of its role in tissue development, maintaining normal levels of biotin is believed to provide optimal support in numerous ways.

Biotin May Support:

  • Carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism
  • Blood sugar levels already within the normal range
  • Central nervous system
  • Healthy-looking skin, texture, tone, and hydration
  • Eyes
  • Cellular development
  • Amino acid synthesis

Good food sources of biotin include beef liver, eggs, salmon, meats, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and dairy products. In a B complex supplement, vitamin B7 levels are typically less than 1 mg. Little is understood about the effects of excessive biotin intake, but like any vitamin, ‘megadosing’ is not recommended and can result in a negative health state. In addition, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), biotin may significantly interfere with certain lab tests and cause incorrect test results which may go undetected. These are included but not limited to cardiovascular diagnostic tests and hormone tests. If you are taking biotin, be sure to ask your doctor to inform the lab conducting any tests. Biotin is also found in personal care and beauty products and may contain larger doses.

Vitamin B9 - Folate

Folate, known as vitamin B9, is a general term that refers to natural folates found in food and the synthetic form known as folic acid. (19) Folate is particularly important for metabolism, cellular development, and fetal development. Vitamin B9 is important during the first two months of pregnancy for the development of the neural tube, which includes the spine and brain of the fetus. (20)

In adults, folate is used for cell division and growth. It supports signaling in the central nervous system, brain function, the structure of arteries and vessel walls, and may help to maintain homocysteine levels in the blood. (21) During synthesis, the compound tetrahydrofolate is derived from folate and helps to produce methionine, which supports a healthy cardiovascular system and the brain.

Folate May Support:

  • New or expecting mothers
  • Fetal development
  • Central nervous system
  • Cognition
  • Cellular development
  • Vessel and arteries
  • Amino acid regulation

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, asparagus, and broccoli are the best source of folate, but it can also be obtained from soybeans, beef liver, brewer’s yeast, root vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, and bulgur wheat. In a B complex supplement, vitamin B7 levels are often found to be less than 1 mg. When taking folate, some people report abdominal discomfort, difficulty sleeping, skin discomfort, and confusion.

Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin

Cobalamin, also known as vitamin B12, is normally bound to animal proteins. (22) Stomach acid is needed to help release vitamin B12 and make it available for uptake when it enters the gastrointestinal tract. Cobalamin primarily supports brain function and the central nervous system, including the synthesis of myelin, a substance that helps to insulate nerve cells. (23) Vitamin B12 is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body, including the development of DNA, the synthesis of fatty acids, and amino acids. (24)

Cobalamin May Support

  • The Brain
  • Learning, memory, and clarity
  • Central nervous system
  • Development of DNA
  • Fatty acid and amino acid synthesis

Vitamin B12 is only available from animal food sources, like meat, organs, fish, shellfish, and dairy products. Vitamin B12 deficiencies are more common in those following vegan diets as plants are unable to produce B12. In a B complex supplement, vitamin B12 may be found in one of several different forms depending on the other molecules that are present in its structure. For example, when cobalamin binds with cyanide it forms cyanocobalamin, and must be “detoxified” in the liver prior to being made bioavailable. The prefered form of cobalamin is methylcobalamin, which is the active form of vitamin B12, and is readily bioavailable. Vitamin B12 levels in B complex supplements are often found in a dose of less than 1 mg. There are no reported side effects even in higher doses.

B Complex Dosage and Warnings


When looking at the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of B vitamins, the intake levels represent the amount of B vitamins that are sufficient for at least 97% of individuals. Exceeding the RDA may result in adverse health effects. (25) Daily requirements may vary depending on individual health and prescribed or OTC medications.


When looking at dosing information with B complex supplements, always consult a doctor if you experience any side effects. Not all B complex supplements are formulated the same way, and the amount of each vitamin can differ. Additionally, some of these supplements contain additional vitamins, herbs, and extracts that might alter the effect of B vitamins in the body. If you require additional support or want to avoid too much of a certain B vitamin, consider a supplement that is formulated with only one individual B vitamin after consulting a medical professional.

Begin A Vitamin B Complex Regimen!


B complex supplements provide broad spectrum support with all eight B vitamins in a single capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid. Whether dietary restrictions limit food choice or additional support is needed due to internal challenges, B vitamins may help to fill nutrition gaps and help individuals achieve feelings of health and wellness.


  1. http://orthomolecular.org/nutrients/b1.html
  2. http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/glycosylation/
  3. http://healthresearchfunding.org/understanding-the-pyruvic-acid-blood-test-results/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4731873/
  5. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/chf.12037/full
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4039400/
  7. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b1-thiamine
  8. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/riboflavin
  9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260995732_Riboflavin_vitamin_B2_and_oxidative_stress_A_review
  10. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacin-benefits#section1
  11. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/niacin
  12. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/pantothenic-acid
  13. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/11306073#section=Top
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9814986
  15. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical-reference-guide/complementary-and-alternative-medicine-guide/supplement/vitamin-b6-pyridoxine
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6296088
  17. http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2922005
  18. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/biotin-oral-route/description/drg-20062359
  19. http://www.umm.edu/Health/Medical-Reference-Guide/Complementary-and-Alternative-Me
  20. dicine-Guide/Supplement/Vitamin-B9-Folic-acid
  21. https://medlineplus.gov/neuraltubedefects.html
  22. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/
  23. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
  24. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780
  25. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-b12/background/hrb-20060243
  26. https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx