A B-Complex is simply a supplement containing all 8 B vitamins. B vitamins have both numbers and names of which a list can be seen below. All 8 are important for multiple bodily functions including energy production, nervous system and psychological function, among others.
B1 – Thiamine
B2 - Riboflavin
B3 – Niacin
B5 – Pantothenic acid
B6 – Pyridoxine
B7 – Biotin
B9 – Folic acid
B12 – Cobalamin
B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning our bodies don’t naturally produce or store them therefore we must get them from our diet. Main dietary sources include animal products such as meat eggs and dairy.
Who might need a B-complex and why?
Some key groups who may benefit from supplementing with a B complex include the following:
- Vegans and vegetarians, as their diets don’t include meat and animal products.
- Those with a poor or unbalanced diet, particularly those with a lack of meat and dairy.
- Older adults and menopausal women, as our absorption of B vitamins, particularly B12 can become impaired with ageing.
B-Vitamins and Research
Those on diuretic medication may experience impaired thiamine absorption and may benefit from a B-Complex supplement.1
Stress can also be a factor that can drive down our levels of B vitamins so those who experience high stress levels may notice an improvement in symptoms following supplementation with a B-Complex.2
Another group who may benefit from B-Complex supplementation are those experiencing low mood as some studies have noted beneficial effects following B vitamin supplementation.3
What to look for in a B-Complex?
A formula including sufficient doses of each B vitamin (above the recommended daily allowance) is important when selecting a B complex. As B vitamins are water soluble, this means any excess not used by the body will be excreted therefore it is safe to take slightly higher than the recommended amounts.*
Selecting a comprehensive complex that is produced to high quality standards is also essential to look out for.
*There are established upper limits for vitamin and mineral intake, set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which should be adhered to in order to prevent adverse effects.
1. Katta N, Balla S, Alpert M. Does Long-Term Furosemide Therapy Cause Thiamine Deficiency in Patients with Heart Failure? A Focused Review. Am J Med. 2016;129(7):753.e7-753.e11. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.01.037
2. Mahdavifar B, Hosseinzadeh M, Salehi-Abargouei A, Mirzaei M, Vafa M. Dietary intake of B vitamins and their association with depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms: A cross-sectional, population-based survey. J Affect Disord. 2021;288:92-98. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2021.03.055
3. Young L, Pipingas A, White D, Gauci S, Scholey A. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2232. doi:10.3390/nu11092232