Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex is a series of micronutrients that is required by the body for daily cellular activities. It is composed of eight B vitamins:
|B1 (thiamine)||Thiamine helps to convert nutrients into energy||Pork, sunflower seeds and wheat germ|
|B2 (Riboflavin)||Riboflavin helps to convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant||Organ meats, beef and mushrooms|
|B3 (Niacin)||Niacin plays a role in cellular signalling, metabolism and DNA production and repair.||Chicken, tuna and lentils|
|B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||Pantothenic acid helps the body to obtain energy from food and is also involved in the production of hormone and cholesterol.||Liver, fish, yogurt and avocado|
|B6 (Pyridoxine)||Pyridoxine is involved in amino acid metabolism, red blood cell production and neurotransmitters creation.||Chickpeas, salmon and potatoes|
|B7 (Biotin)||Biotin is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism and regulates gene expression.||Yeast, eggs, salmon, cheese and liver|
|B9 (Folic Acid)||Folate is needed for cell growth, amino acid metabolism, the formation of red and white blood cells and proper cell division||Leafy greens, liver and beans or in supplements as folic acid|
|B12 (Cobalamin)||B12 is vital for neurological function, DNA production and red blood cell development.||Meats, eggs, seafood and dairy|
Although these vitamins have similar characteristics, they have unique functions and are needed in different amounts by the body. Majority of the population are able to consume adequate amounts of vitamin B complex through diet as they are found in a wide variety of food. B vitamins are water-soluble, which means excess vitamin B is not stored in the body, hence, it is necessary to have adequate amounts from one’s diet.
How much vitamin B complex do you need?
The recommended daily amount of each B vitamins are:
|Vitamin||RDI for Women||RDI for Men|
|B1||1.1 mg||1.2 mg|
|B2||1.1 mg||1.3 mg|
|B3||14 mg||16 mg|
|B5||5 mg (RDA not established)||5 mg (RDA not established)|
|B6||1.3 mg||1.3 mg|
|Biotin||30 mcg (RDA not established)||30 mcg (RDA not established)|
|Folic Acid||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|B12||2.4 mcg||2.4 mcg|
Older adults and women who are pregnant require higher amounts of B vitamins.
Certain underlying health conditions may reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B properly. For example:
- Coeliac Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Alcohol Dependence
- Kidney Conditions
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
How can you tell if you’re deficient?
The majority of the population would get sufficient B vitamins by eating a balanced diet. However, the chance of deficiency is still possible. These are some symptoms of B vitamins deficiency:
- Skin Rashes
- Cracks Around The Mouth
- Scaly Skin On The Lips
- Swollen Tongue
- Irritability Or Depression
- Abdominal Cramps
- Numbness Or Tingling In The Feet And Hands
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and aren’t sure why make an appointment to see your doctor. Although it’s possible that you’re experiencing a vitamin B deficiency, these symptoms also overlap with many other underlying conditions. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and advise you on any next steps.
Can being deficient increase your risk of certain conditions?
Long term untreated deficiency could increase the risks of developing:
- Digestive Issues
- Skin Conditions
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency, in particular, may increase the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders.
- Babies born to women who were deficient in folic acid during pregnancy are more likely to have birth defects.
Talk to your healthcare provider about supplements
Do talk to your healthcare provider before adding any supplements to your routine. Some supplements may interact with certain underlying conditions and medications, hence it is important to keep your healthcare provider informed.
Referenced on 24.4.2021:
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- Bellows L, et al. (2012). Water-soluble vitamins: B-complex and vitamin C.
- Folic acid and pregnancy. (2014).
- Gao Y, et al. (2016). New perspective on impact of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on neurodevelopment/autism in the offspring children — A systematic review. DOI:
- Hall-Flavin DK. (2016). Vitamin B-12 and depression: Are they related?
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Vitamin deficiency anemia.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Peripheral neuropathy.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Vitamin B-12.
- Oh RC, et al. (2003). Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
- Stover PJ. (2010). Vitamin B12 and older adults.
- Vitamin B complex. (n.d.).
- Vitamins and minerals. (2017).