The Whats and Hows of Vitamin B Supplements: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Good health is connected to good nutrition. Your dietary habits have a direct impact on how well your body defends itself against toxins and illnesses. If you don’t consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your immune system in good shape, know that there are certain supplements, such as vitamin B, that can help in these situations.

When it comes to health supplements, vitamin C, D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids are all popular options. However, without the eight different vitamins that make up the B complex, your body wouldn’t be able to function well. That’s because B vitamins impact your whole body – from your energy levels to your mood to intestinal constipation to tingling in your hands and feet. 

What Happens When Your Vitamin B Levels Are Low?

When your body feels the need for more B vitamins, it will send you a sign, which can vary depending on which vitamin B it’s needing. Still, common symptoms include fatigue, cracked lips, skin rash, swollen tongue, forgetfulness, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, stomach cramps, and tingling or numbness in the arms and legs.

Although vitamin B deficiency is uncommon in Australia, if you have a vegan lifestyle, you may be at risk of shortage since plant foods do not contain all of the B vitamins. Vitamin B shortage is also common in the elderly and people with digestive problems that prevent nutrients from being absorbed. And women who are pregnant or exclusively breastfeeding are advised to take certain vitamin B supplements.

What Type of Vitamin B Should I Take?

When buying a supplement, you’ll want to check the nutrition label to ensure it contains all the eight essential B vitamins in the right doses. Supplements that include all eight B vitamins are called B complex supplements. Most of these vitamin B supplements available are between 500mcg and 10,000 mcg with common dosages being between 1,000 and 5,000mcg. As with other supplements, doctors recommend starting B vitamins slow and working up to a dosage that is effective for your specific needs. 

You’ll want to avoid any supplement that includes any kind of artificial colouring or dyes. As for over-the-counter B vitamins, capsules are preferred over tablets, as tablets tend to be hard to digest. 

Another deciding factor is the type of B-12 found in the product. B-12 is available in different forms but the main ones you’ll find are methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the easiest form of B12 for the body to absorb – it doesn’t have to go through a conversion process like other forms. Once available, methylcobalamin is readily used and may even last longer in the body. 

Benefits of Supplementing with Vitamin B 

Vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B12 are all contained in a B complex. Together they help your body perform well and are essential for a variety of cellular processes, including the breakdown of carbohydrates and the transport of nutrients throughout the body. Aside from this, B vitamins can provide other health benefits including:

Increased Energy Levels

If you’re constantly feeling fatigued, know that this could be a vitamin B deficiency. Research has shown that vitamin B12 deficiency can lower the count of red blood cells in the body, resulting in extreme fatigue, rapid heart rate and shortness of breath. 

B vitamins, especially vitamins B1, B2 and B3, are also responsible for helping the body to burn fuel from fat, protein and carbohydrates and together with enzymes, produce energy. While eating more eggs, fish poultry and meat could solve this issue, a vitamin B supplement may be a more effective route, especially if you follow a plant-based diet or if you want faster results. 

Proper Fetal Development

Women planning to become pregnant and those who already are, need to take vitamins B9 (folic acid) and B12 to ensure the fetus is growing properly. These vitamins play an extremely important role in the development of the fetus’s brain, spinal cord and nervous system. They are also vital for preventing spinal cord defects. 

Regulated Digestion

You probably didn’t know that your digestive system relies on different B vitamins to work in tip-top condition. B1 helps regulate and enhance appetite; B3 ensures the proper function of fats and sugars in the body; B6 aids your system process the proteins you eat and B7 assists in the production of cholesterol and in the process of carbs and fats. 

Reduced Tingling in Hands or Foot 

Tingling in the hands, feet or both can be caused for different reasons. Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of them. Low B12 vitamin levels in the body are known to create a “pins and needles” sensation in the hands and feet. This is due to the fact that vitamin B12 assists in the development of myelin, a protein that functions as a protective coating for nerves while also allowing them to transmit signals. Nerves can be harmed if this shield is not present or if it is damaged.

Improved Sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep is vital to keeping your overall health in check. Sleep is when the majority of your body’s healing and restoration takes place, so not getting enough sleep can have a negative emotional, physical, and mental impact.


Vitamin B6 aids in the regulation of melatonin and serotonin synthesis, which are hormones that relax the body and help it fall asleep faster and deeper. Insufficient melatonin production could be the reason you’re finding it difficult to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. 

Healthier Skin

If you are aging faster than you’d like, this could be due to the lack of nutrients and vitamins in your regular diet. A vitamin B complex can help improve the regeneration of the cells in your body and reduce inflammation. Vitamin B5 has been shown to promote healthy skin and collagen products while vitamin B7 has the ability to improve the health of your hair and nails. Thanks to these vitamins, it may be possible to get your youthful glow back. 

B Vitamin Safety and Side Effects

B vitamins are generally considered safe when taken at appropriate doses. The right dose of B complex vitamins will depend on your age, gender, and medical condition. Consult your doctor about supplement formulations to ensure that the dosages are right for you. 

However, even higher doses have been found to be safe as your body absorbs only as much as it needs – excess is passed through your urine. Still, high vitamin B levels may cause nausea and vomiting, headache, fatigue or weakness, diarrhea and tingling sensations in the hands and/or feet. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor for further advice. 


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