Vitamin B Deficiency and Tips on How to Choose B Complex

vitamin b supplements

  • B Vitamins – an Overview; 
  • Vitamin B Deficiency Symptoms;
  • Who should take B Vitamins?
  • How to Choose Vitamin B Supplements

B vitamins are essential to help turn food into energy, maintain a healthy metabolism, and to support nerve function, liver function, skin health, eye health and fetal growth. In this article, we will briefly talk about Vitamin B’s well documented benefits and then focus on who are at risk of deficiency and how to correct it.

B Vitamins – an overview

Vitamin B is not just one particular vitamin. It is a group of eight water-soluble vitamins that we must get from our diets because our bodies cannot make them on their own. These eight B vitamins have similar roles and chemical properties, but each has unique functions. For example, vitamin B6 is important for facilitating protein metabolism and energy use, while vitamin B12 is part of an enzyme needed for making new cells important to nerve function.

Byclue has comipled a list of B Vitamin’s types, functions and food sources  (feel free to skip reading this):

Nutrient
Function
Sources
Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism; important to nerve function
Found in all nutritious foods in moderate amounts: pork, whole-grain or enriched breads and cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds
Riboflavin(vitamin B2)
Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism; important for normal vision and skin health
Milk and milk products; leafy green vegetables; whole-grain, enriched breads and cereals
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism; important for nervous system, digestive system, and skin health
Meat, poultry, fish, whole-grain or enriched breads and cereals, vegetables peanut butter
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
Part of an enzyme needed for making DNA and new cells, especially red blood cells
Leafy green vegetables and legumes, seeds, orange juice, and liver; now added to most refined grains
Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
Part of an enzyme needed for protein metabolism; helps make red blood cells
Meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits
Biotin (vitamin B7)
Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism
Widespread in foods; also produced in intestinal tract by bacteria
Folic acid (vitamin B9)
Part of an enzyme needed for making DNA and new cells, especially red blood cells
Leafy green vegetables and legumes, seeds, orange juice, and liver
Cobalamin (vitamin B12)
Part of an enzyme needed for making new cells; important to nerve function
Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, milk and milk products; not found in plant foods

Vitamin B Deficiency Symptoms

Deficiencies in B vitamins can cause all kinds of symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue and weakness – just imagine the food you take cannot be converted into energy efficiently
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Memory and cognitive impairment because your brain lacks necessary nutrients.
  • Dry skin, acne, brittle nails, hair loss, bleeding gums and mouth sores.
  • Digestive problems
  • Shortness of breath..

Who should take B Vitamins?

  • Age of 50 or older. Yes, being old itself is a risk.
  • Excessive drinking, smoking, using drugs, long-term antibiotic use
  • Eating poor-quality diet, eating disorders, extreme dieting, being vegan/vegetarian.
  • People having certain medical conditions: such as celiac disease, cancer, depression, etc. People having MTHFR genetic mutation may have folate deficiency. Plus, if your lab test shows high level of homocysteine, B Complex will help
  • Pregnant women or those taking birth control pills.

How to Choose Vitamin B Supplements

If possible, get sufficient B vitamins through a nutrient-dense, whole-food-based diet. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Other than B12, your body cannot store these vitamins for long periods, so you have to replenish them regularly.

For high risk people, you may want to take a Lab Test to find out if you have deficiency. If you suspect that you are indeed having B vitamin deficiency and want to take a chance without going through Lab test, you can do so quite safely as B vitamin is water soluble. In other words, excessive B vitamins are flushed out of your body through urine. Expect urine to be yellow when taking a B complex vitamin. If urine does not turn at least slightly more yellow than normal, the dosage might be too low. Regardless, we caution against very high dosage unless you are severely deficient in vitamin B. Three B vitamins that can cause toxicity are: B3, B6 and folate (B9).

One of the most common forms of vitamin B deficiency is B12 deficiency. The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults over 50 years take a daily vitamin B12 supplement or consume foods fortified with vitamin B12. Read More.

We offer the following tips on how to choose Vitamin B:

1) Choose a food-based (organic, if possible) vitamin that includes the full spectrum of B vitamins (called B-complex vitamins) since they all work together within the body to carry out functions and balance one another. Among them, an inclusion of high quality B6、B12 and folate (B9) is particularly important.

2) Pay attention to the forms of Vitamin B:

  • B6: if the label says Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate (P5P), the active form of B6, it is highly bioavailable.
  • B12: Methylcobalamin is the most active form of B12 and is be better absorbed and retained in our tissues than the synthetic cyanocobalamin.
  • Folic acid or folate? We suggest to take folate or 5MTHF due to its high bioavailability, especially for people having MTHFR mutation problem. Bear in mind that folate is much more expensive than folic acid.
  • Use other ingredients to support methylation: if the formula includes TMG and/or choline, it could work together with B vitamins to synergistically support methylation processes and help maintain normal homocysteine level.

3) The delivery format is a personal preference. Capsules and tablets are easily broken down and digested. Liquid is good for kids or adults if they have difficulty to swallow. Chewable or gummies provide good taste, sometimes. 

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