In the world we live in today, maintaining optimal health can be a challenge. Stress, poor diet, and lifestyle factors out of our control can lead to nutritional deficiencies, leaving us fatigued and mentally drained. Fortunately, there’s a superhero in the world of vitamins that can come to our rescue – the B-complex supplement.
Why B12 Isn’t Enough
B12 plays a huge role in the metabolism, yes! So much so that it’s one of the main things we test in our Weight Biology Kit.
But too often, B12 is used as a B vitamin catch-all and expected to solve any and every problem. For example, patients on GLP-1 medications often struggle with nausea and are told by well-meaning health gurus that supplementing with B12 will fix it—but this isn’t quite right.
When it comes to nausea, it’s vitamin B6 that you need, not B12. There’s extensive evidence for how much B6 can help with the morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting of pregnancy, and in our medical practice, we also see it with our patients who are on medications with nausea as a side effect.
The other vitamins also play crucial roles in the body—we dive into the seven top benefits of B vitamins below.
Benefit 1: Enhanced Energy Levels
One of the most notable benefits of B vitamins is the energy boost they can provide. Thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and niacin (vitamin B3) play vital roles in energy production within your cells. By ensuring your body efficiently converts food into energy, these vitamins help fight fatigue and keep you alert throughout the day.
Fatigue is a deficiency symptom for all of these B vitamins, and those suffering from obesity are more at risk of deficiency.
Benefit 2: Cognitive Function and Mood Support
All of the B vitamins play a crucial role in cognitive and brain health.
These are the cognitive signs of deficiency based on the type of vitamin, according to this study.
|Vitamin||Brain-Specific Symptoms of Deficiency|
|Thiamine (B1)||Mild deficiency: irritability, emotional disturbances, confusion, disturbed sleep, memory loss.|
Deficiency: Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (neurodegeneration within the medial thalamus and cerebellum). Ataxia, abnormal motor function and eye movement, amnesia, apathy, and confabulation.
|Riboflavin (B2)||Fatigue, personality change, brain dysfunction|
|Niacin (B3)||Depression, anxiety, progressing to vertigo, memory loss, paranoia, psychotic symptoms, and aggression (Pellagrous insanity)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||Encephalopathy, behavior change, demyelination|
|Vitamin B6||Irritability, impaired alertness, depression, cognitive decline, dementia, autonomic dysfunction, convulsions|
|Biotin (B7)||Depression, lethargy, hallucinations, seizures|
|Folic acid/folate (B9)||Affective disorders 4, behavior changes, psychosis, cognitive impairment/decline, dementia (inc Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia)|
Long story short, B vitamins and healthy cognition go hand-in-hand. They support a healthy nervous system and improve concentration, memory, and mood regulation.
Benefit 3: Heart Health
Niacin and vitamin B12 are vitamins essential for heart health. Inositol, previously known as vitamin B8, though not technically a type of vitamin, also shows heart health benefits.
Niacin helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels by increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol) and decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). This action can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular issues.
Vitamin B12 aids in the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. A deficiency in B12 can lead to anemia, which can strain the heart as it works harder to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
While not a vitamin, inositol is also featured in our B Complex supplement and can help improve blood flow and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems by promoting healthy blood vessel function. It also shows significant benefits for PCOS.
Benefit 4: Hair, Skin, and Nails
Biotin (vitamin B7) is often called the “beauty vitamin” because it plays a significant role in maintaining the health of hair, skin, and nails. It promotes the strength and appearance of these tissues by supporting their growth and regeneration.
Struggling with hair loss? Biotin deficiency was found in 38% of women with hair loss—and only 13% of the women with hair loss studied had optimal biotin levels, which makes supplementing for hair health a no-brainer.
Benefit 5: Stress Management
Want to give your adrenal glands a hand? Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is called the “anti-stress vitamin” for helping your body produce cortisol correctly and effectively, helping balance your stress response.
Benefit 6: Improved Metabolism
One of the most significant benefits of B vitamins in our book is their importance to metabolism. B vitamins are involved in various metabolic pathways, ensuring the body efficiently utilizes carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy production and overall metabolic health. Here’s how B vitamins contribute to metabolism:
- Thiamine (B1): Thiamine is essential for converting carbohydrates into energy by facilitating the breakdown of glucose (a sugar) in the body.
- Riboflavin (B2): Riboflavin is a component of coenzymes that are critical for energy production. They help convert fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into ATP, which is where energy is stored at the cellular level.
- Niacin (B3): Niacin is a precursor to coenzymes NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate), which are used in various metabolic pathways, including the breakdown of glucose.
- Pantothenic Acid (B5): Pantothenic acid is a component of coenzyme A (CoA). CoA plays a central role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins by facilitating their breakdown and energy release.
- B6: Vitamin B6 is involved in amino acid metabolism. It helps convert amino acids into energy through various metabolic pathways. It is also required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which can indirectly influence metabolism by regulating appetite and mood.
- Biotin (B7): Biotin acts as a cofactor for enzymes involved in fatty acid synthesis and gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources). It supports the breakdown of fatty acids and amino acids for energy.
- Folate (B9): Folate is essential for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which are critical for cell division and growth. In this way, folate indirectly influences metabolism by supporting the production of new cells, including red blood cells, which are important for oxygen transport and energy production.
- B12: Vitamin B12 is necessary for the conversion of methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA, a step in the catabolism of certain amino acids and fatty acids. It also plays a role in the production of myelin, a substance that insulates nerve cells, supporting the proper functioning of the nervous system, which can indirectly affect metabolism.
B vitamins make sure that carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are efficiently processed to produce energy and maintain overall metabolic health. A deficiency in any of these B vitamins can lead to metabolic disturbances and a range of health issues.
Benefit 7: DNA and Cell Repair
Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and repair, promoting overall cell health and longevity.
Many supplements use folic acid—a cheaper, synthetic nutrient. In supplement form, look for methylfolate, which is more active and effective at raising folate levels in your blood.
Find It In…
A B-complex supplement is a powerhouse of essential vitamins that can profoundly impact your overall well-being. From boosting energy levels and supporting cognitive function to promoting heart health and enhancing your appearance, these vitamins work together to keep you feeling your best.
Dr. Sowa developed a B-Complex specifically for those on a weight loss or maintenance journey to bring you the most impactful benefits to your metabolism.