All have heard of B-12 but ALL Bs are important.  It is recommended that everyone take a B-complex vitamin to supplement the poor choices and quality of food in this country.  A deficiency of B vitamins is most commonly caused by food deficiencies but also age and certain medications play a part.   

B-vitamins are water soluble meaning that what your body does not need, will be lost in urine. There is not a storage tank for Bs in our body. Lab values to check for each individual vitamin is rarely done and can be expensive. Therefore, a once or twice daily supplement is recommended. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is the minimum amount needed daily to prevent disease! Much more vitamins are typically needed to establish or preserve HEALTH.   

For many years, B-12 was thought to only work if taken by injection.  Research has shown that the absorption of B-12 taken in pill form is absorbed as well or even better. I cannot emphasize enough that ALL B-vitamins need to be taken together whether it is a pill or injection.   

There are EIGHT B-vitamins. Few supplements contain all the Bs. I personally like Life Extension B-complex which contains:  

  • B1 (Thiamine) improves neuropathy pain that has been caused by uncontrolled diabetes or chemotherapy. Thiamine along with other Bs are essential in extracting energy from carbohydrates, protein and fats.  
  • B2 (Riboflavin) has been researched extensively in migraines. Belgium researchers found a lowering of migraine episodes of 67%. 
  • B3 (Niacin) reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol by as much as 20%, reduces triglycerides, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, increases LDL particles to a more protective size and lowering the risk of myocardial infarction. The side effect of flushing can be uncomfortable for some but can be avoided by:  
  • taking with meals 
  • take with apples or apple sauce 
  • Avoiding alcohol for 4 hours after taking 
  • adding quercetin 500 mg 
  • lowering the dose or using an extended-release formulation  
  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is essential for breaking down, utilizing, and getting rid of fatty acids.  
  • B6 (Pyridoxine) lowers insulin resistance, improves metabolism and protects proteins needed by our body.    
  • B7 (Biotin) supports the activities of enzymes involved in fatty acid synthesis, gluconeogenesis (the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources) and amino acid breakdown.  Biotin is needed for cellular energy. This B-vitamin is important in supporting healthy hair, skin and nails.  
  • B9 (Folate, Folic Acid) lowers insulin resistance, improves metabolism, improved cognitive score. Folate is important before and during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defect. 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) is the most biologically active form of folate and may be needed for better absorption.   
  • B12s most common formulations are methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.  Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic, or man-made form that is not found in nature. Methylcobalamin occurs naturally in food sources such as fish, meat, eggs, and milk. Cyanocobalamin is used most frequently in supplements because of the lower manufacturing cost.  When cyanocobalamin enters the body, it is converted to methylcobalamin which is the active form of B12. Methylcobalamin lowers the risk of oxidative stress which is damaging to cells. B-12 plays in a role in the synthesis of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.  These are the hormones that make us feel better and have more energy.   

The Bs, particularly B1, B6, B9 and B12 (as methylcobalamin) improve the health of nerves and vessels. Diabetics with neuropathy may rejuvenating new nerves and lower pain.   

The combination of Bs lowers homocysteine which is a risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.  

Taking B-complex lowers depression, risk of anorexia, alcohol dependence, can improve hearing and memory.   

B-complex and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a hot topic.  Those with AD have lower levels of B12 in their spinal fluid.  Those given cyanocobalamin were unable to convert it to the active form of methylcobalamin due to low levels of SAMe. When the subjects were given methylcobalamin, symptoms improved.   

Don’t be alarmed if your urine is bright yellow at times. This could mean your body did not need the Bs at the time OR poor absorption caused by low quality vitamins.  Always choose a QUALITY vitamin or supplement. Make sure they are 3rd party tested or USDA certified. Quality may cost a little more but is worth the benefit and lowers risk of exposure to potentially harmful additives.  

The Bs have many more benefits with new ones discovered. Hope this overview was helpful. Now go get you some Bs!!

Live Long, Live Healthy!  

Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560,,   

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.