Last updated: June 17, 2020

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Do you ever feel tired, irritable or have trouble concentrating? This feeling of malaise which can’t be blamed on anything in particular, can become a major disruption and interfere with your daily life, your work or your studies. You’re not sick, but something is definitely up.

In this case you may be suffering from a vitamin B deficiency. This complex vitamin controls a large number of functions in the human body and a deficiency can have wide-ranging effects on our health. In this article, we will detail everything you need to know about these vitamins, giving you the necessary tools to get back to feeling like yourself in no time.

Key Facts

  • There is not just one vitamin B, but rather different molecules which combine together to form the vitamin B group or vitamin B complex.
  • These vitamins regulate the processes related to the production of energy, the creation of new cells and the maintenance of the nervous system, among others.
  • Although the consumption of large doses of these vitamins do not produce short term side effects, it is recommended to choose supplements which do not exceed the daily recommended dosage of these vitamins.

Our selection: The best vitamin B products in the Australian market

We have chosen the five best products for our Ranking after studying the vitamin B group supplements currently on the market. This is based not just on the highest vitamin B content, but also the nutritional balance of each product and the satisfaction levels of customers.

Blackmores Executive B Stress Formula

This Executive B Stress Formula from Blackmores is specifically formulated to address stress in today’s busy, stressful world. It contains not only B group vitamins which are known to aid with stress, but also passionflower, which is used in herbal medicine to relieve nervous tension and aids in converting food into energy.

Blackmores is Australia’s most trusted vitamin and supplement brand as voted by Australians in the 2009-2017 Readers Digest Most Trusted Survey. This well-known brand is synonymous with quality and reliability.

NOW Vitamin B-6 100mg

Vitamin B-6 is an important B group vitamin which regulates homocysteine levels in the body. If homocysteine levels become too high, it can cause serious health problems like heart disease. Vitamin B-6 also aids with protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and the creation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters.

These vitamin B-6 capsules are made through a production process as a by-product of the demethylation of methionine and screened for potency and purity to make sure you get the highest quality product every purchase. The pack has 250 capsules, each with 100mg of Vitamin B-6.

Nature’s Own Vitamin B12 1000mcg

This pack of 60 tablets of 100mcg Vitamin B-12 from Nature’s Own, helps support the healthy functioning of the nervous system, which may beneficial during times of stress, assists cardiovascular health and heart function and supports energy production.

The natural formulation is free from yeast, gluten, lactose, sugar, artificial colours or flavours, artificial sweeteners or preservatives, dairy so is perfect for those with allergies or dietry requirements.

Garden of Life B Vitamin – Vitamin Code Raw B Complex Whole Food Supplement

This vitamin B complex from Garden of Life contains 400mcg (100%DV) of folate with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B-12 for a healthy heart, increased energy and manage stress response.

The combination provides mental and physical energy, supports blood health, heart health, immune system health and healthy stress response. This plant-based combination includes a raw probiotic and enzyme blend for digestive support and vegetable blend for additional nutritional support. It is also vegan, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free and non-GMO.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about vitamin B

Vitamin B are molecules essential for the proper functioning of the human body. Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B7 assist with the production of energy, vitamin B6 regulates protein metabolism and vitamins B9 and B12 are essential for cellular multiplication and division.

vitamin pils

Vitamin B helps promote better wellbeing.
(Source: Puhhha: 69595913/ 123rf.com)

What are B vitamins?

Vitamins are substances with unparalleled importance for homeostasis, that is, the vital balance of the body. These small molecules cannot be made by the body from other simpler elements, and must be consumed on a daily basis to keep their levels steady.

When B vitamins were first discovered, experts thought they were a single molecule. Later studies confirmed the existence of many different types of vitamin B, which were distinguished by a number. This classification has come to include more than twenty different molecules.

Today, the group of B vitamins includes eight essential nutrients: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12):

Vitamin Most important functions
Thiamine (B1) Oxygen metabolism

Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Energy production

Transmission of nerve impulses

Riboflavin (B2) Oxygen metabolism

Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Metabolism of other vitamins

Energy production

Detoxification of harmful products

(Possible) antioxidant function

Niacin (B3) Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Energy production

Hormone production

Growth and development

Transmission of nerve impulses

Lower blood pressure

Maintenance of skin integrity

Pantothenic acid (B5) Metabolism of oxygen

Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Synthesis of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Transmission of nerve impulses

Pyridoxine (B6) Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Energy production

Protein synthesis

Cell growth and maintanence

Biotin (B7) Metabolism of oxygen

Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins

Cellular multiplication and division

Maintenance of blood sugar levels

Folic acid (B9) Growth and maintenance of new cells

DNA replication

Fetal development

Metabolism of other vitamins (principally B12)

Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12) Growth and maintenance of new cells

Development and protection of the nervous system

Red blood cell production

Maintenance of the intestines

What are the benefits of B vitamins?

B vitamins (better known as “B complex vitamins” or “B group vitamins”) act as enzymatic cofactors, that is, as essential elements to make chemical reactions to control nutrients metabolism, create new cells and even control nerve impulses.

Although it is possible to study each of these essential nutrients separately, the fact is the most important actions of these vitamins are a consequence of the balanced combination of the eight molecules of the B complex. The following list shows the main processes dependent on the B group vitamins:

  • Energy production
  • New cell production
  • Protection of cellular integrity, especially rapidly replicating cells (skin, hair and nails)
  • Maintenance of normal vision
  • Regulation of digestion
  • Appetite control
  • Maintenance of normal brain function
  • Regulation of the nervous system
  • Hormone production
  • Muscle growth
  • Promotion of fertility
  • Better fetal health and health during pregnancy
  • Reduction of fetal defects
  • Possibly increases testosterone production in men

What are the consequences of vitamin B deficiency?

Since B vitamins regulate countless chemical reactions in the body, deficient levels will cause a general metabolic imbalance, which will be more severe the more intense the hypovitaminosis (vitamin deficiency) is. Some people, such as those listed below, are more likely than others to suffer from a lack of this complex:

  • Pregnant or lactating women: pregnant women need more nutrients to support the baby’s development. Specifically, folic acid (vitamin B9) in increased amounts is necessary to allow proper fetal neural development.
  • Older adults: People over sixty years of age have been shown to be more likely to suffer all kinds of nutritional deficiencies.Their ability to absorb vitamins decreases, and consequently, their chance of suffering hypovitaminosis increases.
  • People with conditions affecting intestinal absorption: Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and HIV infection are diseases that affect nutrient absorption to a greater or lesser extent, raising the risk of B vitamins deficiency.
  • People with alcohol problems: Alcohol negatively affects the absorption, storage and activation of B vitamins (especially B1, B6 and B9). Those consuming alcohol very often are at risk of suffering from a deficiency in vitamin B.
  • Vegans and vegetarians: A balanced vegan or vegetarian diet will be able to provide seven of the eight B Vitamins. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products and therefore must be supplemented on a plant-based diet to avoid its deficiency.
  • People with demanding lifestyles: Chronic stress has been shown to reduce levels of vitamin B6, thus increasing people’s risk of having a nutritional deficiency.
  • Smokers: Lower levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 were found among tobacco addicts, thus increasing their chances of suffering a B complex vitamins deficiency.
lack of vitamin b

Cracked lips can be a result of a deficiency in vitamin B.
(Source: Noojuntuk: 87394739/ 123rf.com)

The lack of these vitamins will manifest as fatigue and weakness at initial stages. Later, other niggling symptoms will appear, such as dry skin, cracked lips and corners of the mouth, digestive discomfort and constipation. If this hypovitaminosis is not resolved, the prognosis will worsen and more severe problems will appear:

  • Premature ageing (appearance of grey hairs before 30 years old)
  • Red and inflamed tongue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion
  • Mood disorders
  • Numbness of toes and hands
  • Anaemia
  • Frequent infections
  • Memory loss
  • Deteriorating vision
  • Impaired foetal development (in pregnant women)
  • Increased incident of cancer (especially colon and breast)

What foods are rich in B vitamins?

A balanced diet will help maintain healthy levels of B vitamins (excepting vitamin B12 in vegan diets). Generally, fresh and minimally processed foods (preferably whole foods) will be great sources of B vitamins. You will find the main sources of these nutrients in the following table:

Vitamin Recomended daily dosage Dietry sources
Thiamine (B1) 1.2 mg Pork, whole grains, sunflower seeds, nuts, eggs.
Riboflavin (B2) 1.3 mg Fish, red meat, white meat, eggs, avocado, whole grains.
Niacin (B3) 14 mg Liver, chicken, tuna, peanuts, avocado, whole grains.
Pantothenic acid (B5) 5 mg Seafood, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy, legumes.
Pyridoxine (B6) 1.3 mg Chickpeas, liver, tuna, salmon, chicken, bananas.
Biotin (B7) 0.03 mg (30 micrograms) Red meat, avocado, eggs, nuts, salmon, dairy.
Folic acid (B9) 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) Green leafy vegetables, legumes, eggs, asparagus, citrus.
Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (B12) 0.0024 mg (2.4 micrograms) Casserole, seafood, sardines, red meat, tuna, nutritional yeast.

Keep in mind that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) in this chart refers to the needs of a standard adult. In the case of children, pregnant women and people suffering from chronic diseases, these recommendations may vary. A nutritionist can define recommendations for such special cases.

How can I benefit from a vitamin B complex?

If you cannot get all the nutrients you need through your diet, a supplement containing the eight vitamins of the group is a good option for you to meet your nutritional requirements. If you belong to any of the following groups, B vitamins nutritional supplement will give you many benefits:

  • People who want to age in a healthy way: The effect of vitamins B6, B9 and B12 on the prevention of cognitive deterioration in the elderly is being studied. In addition, good levels of B vitamins have been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular events in the elderly.
  • People who want to improve the appearance of their skin, nails and hair: Some experts argue that the consumption of B group vitamins is more effective than cosmetics when it comes to improving the appearance of the skin, reducing nail fragility and promoting hair growth.
  • Workers under stress: Some studies show that people who consume supplements with B vitamins handle chronic stress caused by work better.
  • Students: Good levels of B complex vitamins could relieve stress on students (especially during exam times), avoiding mental fatigue and maintaining cognitive abilities within normal levels.
  • Athletes: B vitamins are essential for energy metabolism and muscle growth. A supplement with vitamins B6, B9 and B12 can help improve athletic performance of fitness junkies.
  • People on weight-loss diets: Weight loss diets often restrict caloric intake in an intense way. Adding a vitamin B complex into our routine will guarantee a proper supply of these molecules that are essential to maintain active metabolism.
  • Vegans and vegetarians: Vegans (and to a lesser extent, vegetarians) will need to add a vitamin B12 supplement to their diet to avoid hypovitaminosis. Most vitamin B complex supplements contain cobalamin, making a fantastic addition to the vegan diet.
  • People who want to offset the harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco: Leaving tobacco and limiting alcohol consumption will improve your health drastically. A vitamin B supplement will help reduce the oxidative effects caused by years of addiction to tobacco or alcohol.
  • People suffering from mental exhaustion, apathy or irritability: Despite these vitamins cannot replace the medication for psychiatric conditions, B complex has been shown to relieve the feeling of mental fatigue and improve some people’s mood.

While pregnant women will greatly benefit from a vitamin supplement with B9 and B12, there are specific prenatal and postnatal supplements for pregnancy and lactation. If you are expecting, we recommend you to talk to your midwife or doctor. They will recommend a product that best suits your needs as well as your baby’s.

Certainly, B vitamins will help you achieve general wellbeing. You can use this food supplement sporadically, to deal with periods of stress such as exams or work projects, or you can take it for long periods of time to improve your physical appearance and reduce the effects of ageing.

balanced salad

A balanced diet helps you to maintain the correct levels of vitamin B.
(Source: Subbotina: 21976952/ 123rf.com)

What types of vitamin B complex are there?

Most vitamin B supplements contain the eight most important vitamins in this complex. However, you can find products aimed at satisfying specific demands of certain people. In the following list you can find the most common B complex formulations in the market:

  • B Vitamins for women over 40: This vitamin complex contains high amounts of folic acid and biotin, beneficial for older women’s skin, hair and nails.
  • B Vitamins for athletes: These supplements provide 100% of the RDA for vitamin B6, together with other molecules of this group. In addition, these products may contain other compounds that favour sports performance, such as magnesium or L-carnitine.
  • B Vitamins to preserve intellectual functioning: With this type of product, vitamins B6, B9 and B12 combine to meet the nutritional deficiencies that may arise during times that require additional effort (tests, projects, entrance exams or extended shifts).
  • B Vitamins for vegans and vegetarians: These supplements provide of the RDA for vitamin B12 to avoid the dangerous effects caused by the lack of this compound in plant-based diets (mainly anaemia, nervous disorders, fatigue and intestinal disorders).
  • B vitamins for weight loss: Normally, these preparations provide the entire RDA for all the B vitamins. These supplements help maintain metabolic balance and help control appetite while preventing the occurrence of nutritional deficiencies.

However, people who start supplementation with B vitamins can choose a “standard” complex that offers all the essential nutrients of B group of vitamins. This way, you can benefit from B vitamins in every way (for sport, intellectual, esthetic or immune purposes).

How should I take my vitamin B supplement?

You’re lucky! Vitamin B supplements are the most simple and convenient to use. You only need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to maximize your nutritional supplement. If you still have any doubts, consult the following sections. We have answered the most frequently asked questions about B vitamins.

  • What dosage? It is recommended to choose a supplement that provides 100% of the recommended daily amount of the eight most important B complex vitamins. Normally, this is equivalent to a single dose of the supplement, taken once a day.
  • What time? The absorption of this supplement will not be affected by the time of the day it is ingested. However, some nutrition experts recommend taking your supplement in the morning to take advantage of the energy-enhancing effect of some of these vitamins.
  • With a meal or on an empty stomach? B group vitamins are water-soluble molecules (that are dissolved in water from food). Therefore, its dissolution ability is high and can be taken on an empty stomach or with a meal, having virtually the same effectiveness.
  • How do I keep my supplement? Normally, it is enough to keep your complex ina cool and dry place, keeping the container properly closed and avoiding exposure to sunlight. Some more special items (such as liquid B vitamins) may need refrigeration.

Remember these items have an expiration date (like any other nutritional supplement). Using an expired vitamin B supplement will not be dangerous, but its effectiveness will be reduced. If you use this product after its expiration date, you will not suffer any kind of side effect, but you will not see any benefit either.

Lana BurgessDoctor and health blogger

“Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include fatigue, low mood, and nerve problems.”.

What precautions should I take during my supplementation with B vitamins?

Vitamin B supplements are considered a safe option for general public consumption. As these molecules are water-soluble type, their excess will be naturally eliminated by the urine. Although the body stores small amounts of some compounds (such as B12), it is almost impossible for complications to occur due to excessive build-up.

However, a study in healthy men showed that supplementation with excessive doses of B complex vitamins (1000% or more of the RDA) could increase the chances of suffering from some types of cancer. This does not happen with the B vitamins obtained through food consumption or with moderate supplementation.

fitness runner girl

Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 can promote better fitness and improve sports performance.
(Source: Ammentorp: 41851548/ 123rf.com)

In addition, excessive doses of B vitamins could cause digestive discomfort (heartburn and nausea primarily). Therefore, it is recommended to choose a supplement that offers a 100% of the RDA, without exceeding this limit. A high dose of these vitamins does not provide an additional benefit or cause the supplement to act faster.

How much do vitamin B supplements cost?

Vitamin B supplements are very affordable. Most products have a price between 10 and 15 dollars, allowing supplementation for months at a very reasonable price. Prices vary from a product to another, meaning they mainly depend on the manufacturer’s reputation.

However, vitamin B supplements that contain additional elements, such as L-carnitine molecules, plant extracts such as Ginkgo Biloba or nutrients such as brewer’s yeast, will have a higher cost compared to other supplements since they will offer additional advantages that will depend on each specific compound.

Shopping criteria

In this section, you will learn to distinguish the characteristics which differentiate between various vitamin B supplements. These nutritional supplements you will find among the most sold products on the market, and it’s handy to have a solid understanding in order to choose the product which best suits your needs.

Interactions with medication

Vitamin B supplements do not usually cause interactions with the most popular drugs (over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, contraceptives, medications to control blood pressure and anti-diabetic drugs). However, there have been problems in people taking these products while taking anti-epileptic treatments.

For this reason, we recommend you to talk to your doctor if you suffer from epilepsy or a nerve conduction disorder before starting your supplementation with B vitamins. Remember that no nutritional supplement can replace the appropriate medical treatment customized to each person’s needs.

food with vitamins b

Vitamin B helps to improve your physical and mental health.
(Source: Dolgachov: 54776181/ 123rf.com)

Allergens

Vitamin B supplements may contain products that cause intolerances, like gluten, lactose, soy or some additives such as magnesium stearate. Good quality supplements indicate on their packaging if they are free of allergens. If there is no reference to the most known allergens, they are most likely present.

Vegan and vegetarian diet

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you must choose a vitamin B supplement that contains at least 100% of the RDA for B12. Also, be sure to choose a complex that does not contain animal compounds in its formulation. This includes, of course, vitamin capsules, which must be made from some cellulose derivative instead of gelatin.

Methylation

Many vitamins need to undergo a process of activation in the body (known as methylation) before they can function in cellular metabolism. However, up to 30% of the population may have some type of defect that prevents or hinders the methylation process of B vitamins.

Therefore, it is recommended to choose a supplement that offers vitamins in their activated form (methylated) and ready to be used immediately by the body. Methylated compounds usually appear in the ingredients with the prefix “methyl”, and methyltetrahydrofolate (the active form of folic acid or vitamin B9).

Viatcheslav Wlassoff, PhDScientific and medical consultant

“Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is an essential vitamin for the proper functioning and development of the brain and nerve cells”.

Form de administration

You can choose between several formats allowing you to supplement yourself in the most comfortable way for you. In most cases, nutrients effectiveness and absorption will not be affected, so this decision only depends on your personal preferences.

    • Tablets: Tablets or hard capsules are the simplest form of supplementation. Its storage and preservation are simple, although some people may have problems when swallowing these supplements.
    • Soft capsules: These capsules usually have liquid content inside. Its texture is much more pleasant to take. Vegan consumers should ensure the capsule coating does not contain gelatin.
    • Oral spray: This route is many consumers’ favourite, allowing them to supplement in a few seconds. Some formats can be sprayed on food, further facilitating the consumption of these supplements.
    • Drops or liquid: These containers also allow you to supplement yourself quickly, simply and cleanly. Its price may be a little higher than other items and may require refrigeration.
    • Powder: This form of supplementation is sports fans’ favourite, who can use powder to enhance the nutritional content of their favourite drinks or shakes.
    • Lollies: This form of supplementation has become popular among the most popular The option of taking our daily vitamins as a lolly or sweets allows to set a supplementation routine in a pleasant way.Your main problem? The high price of these items.

Value for money

Some people claim that the benefits of vitamin B supplements are noticed a few days after starting supplementation. However, most of the studies on vitamins require a minimum period of three months before being able to really see their effects.

Therefore, we recommend you to purchase enough product to take for at least two or three months. Keep in mind that these nutritional supplements expire, not being effective after a certain period of time. Do not miss its expiration date.

Summary

B group vitamins are a fantastic addition to a balanced diet for anyone. These molecules are soluble in water and don’t accumulate in harmful levels in the body, making them a safe and practical option to help you maintain energy levels and better health.

Vitamin B complex regulates certain reactions in the body. For this reason, it is indispensable to choose a good-quality supplement and take it in the recommended daily dosage. If you maintain proper levels of vitamin B your health will benefit.

If you have enjoyed our guide to B group vitamins please leave a comment and share this article.

(Source of the featured image: Suntiviriyanon: 41518643/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust us?

Rhoda noticed from a young age that she was interested in alternative healing methods and the functions of the human body. That's why she became a non-medical practitioner. She has been helping so many people in a natural way for quite a long time. In her free time, she likes to write articles about these topics in order to enlighten people.