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Vitamin B Complex Benefits 2024: 7 Benefits & Top Food Sources

vitamin b complex benefits
A vitamin B complex supplement benefits healthy skin, hair, and nails. Photo: Jinning Li/Shutterstock

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A vitamin B complex supplement is a specially formulated combination of various B vitamins. It can provide additional support to individuals who require extra amounts of any of the B vitamins, including pregnant women, vegetarians and vegans, and those with anemia. While all the B vitamins can be obtained from a balanced diet, a healthcare provider may recommend a B complex supplement to meet specific health needs. This may be necessary either as a replacement for certain foods or as a complementary addition to a regular diet.

A B complex supplement can offer numerous health benefits, such as improving energy levels, promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails, enhancing brain function, and supporting the immune system. However, it is important to note that excessive consumption of certain B vitamins can be harmful. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any vitamin B complex supplement to ensure its suitability for individual health requirements.

Benefits Of Vitamin B Complex 

  • Improves Mood
  • Promotes Healthy Brain Function
  • Enhances Nervous System Health
  • Boosts Immunity
  • Supports Healthy Pregnancy
  • Boosts Testosterone
  • Balances Hormones
  • Boosts Energy
  • Promotes Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails
  • Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Vitamin B Complex Benefits

Improves Mood

B vitamins play a critical role in our minds as well as our bodies. B12, along with other B vitamins, helps to produce chemicals and neurotransmitters that can affect how we feel, emotionally. Cognitive functioning, including memory and mood, is heavily reliant on adequate B vitamins. Some studies have linked inadequate amounts of B6 and folate with depression.[1]

Promotes Healthy Brain Function

When B vitamins work together, they work as a team to enhance brain health and function. Because B vitamins produce essential neurotransmitters that help our brains[2] communicate with our body, they may play a part in the prevention of cognitive diseases such as dementia. 

Enhances Nervous System Health

One of the tell-tale signs of vitamin B deficiency is numbness or tingling – this is because vitamin deficiencies can drastically affect the nervous system. Vitamins B1, B6, and B12 in particular work to preserve the health of our nervous system.[3] It’s been shown that, even if a person is not necessarily deficient in these vitamins, the vitamins may be able to help improve some cognitive ailments.

Boosts Immune System

Our immune system is heavily reliant on our red and white blood cells, which are supported by B vitamins.[4] Additionally, B12 helps our energy levels and supports lung and heart health. Vitamin B6 in particular keeps our immunity up and running and helps oxygen flow better inside our bodies. B6 also creates our T cells, the cells that defend our immune system.

Supports Healthy Pregnancy 

healthy pregnancy
Vitamin B complex supports healthy pregnancy. Photo: Photoroyalty/Shutterstock

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is crucial for growth and development, particularly during pregnancy, making it an essential nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. To ensure optimal outcomes, folate supplements should be taken not only during pregnancy but also postpartum for lactating mothers. Adequate intake of vitamin B9 can help prevent brain and spinal abnormalities in a developing fetus.

Boosts Testosterone

Insufficient vitamin B12 levels can lead to a reduction in testosterone levels, which can negatively impact sexual health. Addressing B12 deficiency is crucial to increase low testosterone levels. Additionally, vitamin B12 has been found to enhance the health of the testes and sperm and promote sexual stamina.

Balances Hormones

Pantothenic acid (B5) is responsible for many of the biochemical reactions that lead to cellular turnover and hormone balance. This key vitamin helps our bodies produce the correct hormones in the correct amounts. B5 is water soluble, which means it is excreted out through urine, making it important to replace every day.

What Is Vitamin B Complex?

A vitamin B complex is a combination supplement[5] that contains some or all eight B vitamins in small amounts. When taken correctly, a vitamin B complex can provide significant health benefits, particularly for certain individuals. The vitamins included in a B complex can contain any or all of the following B vitamins: 

  • Thiamine (B1)
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Niacin (B3)
  • Niacinamide
  • Pantothenic acid (B5)
  • Pyridoxine (B6)
  • Biotin (B7)
  • Folate and Folic acid (B9)
  • Aminobenzoic acid
  • Inositol
  • Choline
  • Cobalamin (B12)

Who Should Consume Vitamin B Complex?

Older Adults

As we get older, it may become more difficult to absorb nutrients, B vitamins in particular. As we age, we need to ensure we’re getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals to protect our health, energy, bones, and overall vitality. For this reason, older adults may require a vitamin B complex.

People With Certain GI Conditions

The gastrointestinal tract is responsible for absorbing nutrients, including vitamin B12. However, individuals with specific gastrointestinal conditions may encounter difficulties in nutrient absorption. As a result, they may have a higher risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vegans And Vegetarians

Vitamin B complex is essential for vegans and vegetarians. Photo: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

People who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet miss out on the essential B vitamins naturally found in meat and fish. This is especially true for vegans who also do not eat eggs or dairy products either. These individuals may need to supplement with B vitamins.

People With Anemia

Insufficient intake of vitamin B12 can result in the body’s inability to produce an adequate number of healthy red blood cells. This, in turn, can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and anemia. If an individual is diagnosed with anemia, it is crucial to ensure that their B12 intake is sufficient to compensate for the deficiency.

Pregnant Women

B vitamins are essential for a healthy pregnancy[6] and a growing fetus. This is why folic acid is frequently prescribed when a couple is trying to conceive and during pregnancy. However, certain B vitamins, such as B3 (niacin), can be harmful in larger doses, so it’s important to let your doctor determine which B complex (or which B vitamins specifically) you should take. 

People With MTHFR Genetic Mutation

The MTHFR genetic mutation can affect an individual’s ability to absorb B vitamins effectively. This mutation impacts the body’s ability to produce the MTHFR enzyme, which is essential for converting folate into a form that the body can utilize. Without adequate levels of this enzyme, the body may struggle to absorb and utilize essential B vitamins, leading to potential health issues.

If an individual is identified as having the MTHFR genetic mutation, they may benefit from taking B complex vitamins to ensure they are receiving sufficient levels of B vitamins. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regime to determine the appropriate dosage and suitability for individual health requirements.

Symptoms Of Vitamin B Complex Deficiency

A vitamin B deficiency[7] can be detected via lab work from your doctor’s office. A person may experience certain signs or symptoms that may lead them to suspect vitamin B deficiency. These signs include skin and mouth abnormalities, such as skin rashes, cracks around the mouth, scaled skin on the lips, and a swollen tongue.

Vitamin B deficiency can manifest itself in various ways, including tiredness, weakness, and anemia. In addition to these symptoms, some individuals may also experience gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea, constipation, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea.

The role of vitamin B extends beyond physical health, as it also contributes to regulating the nervous system. Therefore, a deficiency in this vitamin may cause tingling sensations or numbness in the feet and hands. Additionally, vitamin B deficiency may have cognitive effects such as confusion, irritability, anxiety, and depression.

However, the symptoms of vitamin B deficiency can be non-specific and overlap with other medical conditions. Hence, it is essential to inform a healthcare provider if any of these symptoms occur and request a test for vitamin B deficiencies to rule out other potential causes. An accurate diagnosis is essential to receive appropriate treatment and prevent further health complications.


The recommended daily amount of vitamin B varies from man to woman and will depend on what your baseline is (for example, those who are low in vitamin B or pregnant women may require more). Also, since there are many B vitamins, the recommended daily amount is specific to each B vitamin.

The recommended daily amount for women is as follows:

  • B1: 1.1 milligrams (mg)
  • B2: 1.1 mg
  • B3: 14 mg NE
  • B5: 5 mg 
  • B6: 1.3 mg
  • Biotin: 30 micrograms (mcg)
  • Folic acid: 400 mcg DFE
  • B12: 2.4 mcg

The recommended daily amount for men is as follows:

  • B1: 1.2 mg
  • B2: 1.3 mg
  • B3: 16 mg NE
  • B5: 5 mg 
  • B6: 1.3 mg
  • Biotin: 30 mcg 
  • Folic acid: 400 mcg DFE
  • B12: 2.4 mcg

Top Food Sources Of Vitamin B

Various B vitamins* can be found in a variety of animal and plant-based foods. Some of them include:

  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Avocados
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Eggs
  • Liver
  • Beef, chicken, and turkey
  • Vegetables/Leafy greens 
  • Salmon 
  • Trout
  • Pork
  • Oysters, muscles, and clams
  • Legumes
  • Fortified foods (Breads, milk, juices, cereals)

*All these foods contain at least one B vitamin supplementation; some contain several B vitamins. 

Potential Side Effects

Vitamin B complexes are essential for many bodily functions, and it’s important to maintain adequate levels through a healthy diet and/or supplementation. While it’s generally safe to consume B vitamins, it’s important to be mindful of the potential risks of overconsumption.

As water-soluble vitamins, excess amounts of B vitamins are typically excreted through urine. However, extremely high doses of B3 (niacin) and B6 (pyridoxine) can cause adverse effects. High doses of B3 can lead to symptoms such as high blood sugar, skin flushing, vomiting, and liver damage. Meanwhile, excessive B6 intake may damage the nerves and cause lesions on the skin. It’s crucial to adhere to recommended dosages and to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements to avoid potential health risks.


In conclusion, a vitamin B complex can be a beneficial supplement to support our overall health and well-being. With a combination of B vitamins, including B12, folate, niacin, and riboflavin, these nutrients can provide essential benefits for our immune system, brain, and nervous system. For individuals with specific health needs such as pregnant women, anemia, or vegans and vegetarians, a B complex may be particularly important to ensure they are getting enough of these important vitamins.

As always, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. They can help determine the right dosage and make sure there are no interactions with any other medications or health conditions. With the right care and attention, incorporating a vitamin B complex into a healthy lifestyle can help support a thriving body and mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I’m over 65, should I take a vitamin B complex?

While older adults may have more need for B vitamins, generally, it’s best not to assume anything. If you’re concerned about your vitamin B levels, ask your doctor to run your labs.

If I have the MTHFR genetic mutation, should I take B vitamins?

The MTHFR genetic mutation can alter how your body metabolizes certain B vitamins, such as folate. It may be especially important to take a B complex if you have this genetic mutation to ensure you are getting enough B vitamins.

Is it better to take B vitamins separately or in one complex supplement?

Health-wise, it shouldn’t make a huge difference whether you take your B vitamins separately or as a complex. It’s more convenient to take one pill, rather than several different pills, however, your doctor may want you to avoid specific B vitamins. If this is the case, then taking them separately (only the ones you need) would be better.

+ 7 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Prerna Sangle, Sandhu, O., Aftab, Z., Adarsh Thomas Anthony and Khan, S. (2020). Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Preventing Onset and Improving Prognosis of Depression. Cureus. [online] doi:https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.11169.
  2. Kennedy, D. (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. Nutrients, [online] 8(2), p.68. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8020068.
  3. Calderón‐Ospina, C.A. and Nava‐Mesa, M.O. (2019). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, [online] 26(1), pp.5–13. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/cns.13207.
  4. Peterson, C.T., Rodionov, D.A., Osterman, A.L. and Peterson, S.N. (2020). B Vitamins and Their Role in Immune Regulation and Cancer. Nutrients, [online] 12(11), p.3380. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113380.
  5. National Cancer Institute. (2023). NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/vitamin-b-complex
  6. Sukumar, N., Rafnsson, S.B., Kandala, N.-B., Bhopal, R., Yajnik, C.S. and Saravanan, P. (2016). Prevalence of vitamin B-12 insufficiency during pregnancy and its effect on offspring birth weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis ,. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 103(5), pp.1232–1251. doi:https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.123083.
  7. Silverstein, W.K., Cheung, M.C. and Lin, Y. (2022). Vitamin B12 deficiency. Canadian Medical Association Journal, [online] 194(24), pp.E843–E843. doi:https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.220306.


A health coach specializing in Integrative Nutrition, I approach wellness with a holistic and functional medicine perspective. As a writer, I simplify intricate topics such as nutrition, gut and hormone health, mental well-being, and spiritual health,… See More