In a departure from our usual “Best Of” structure, this article focuses more on what you should look for in a dietary supplement and what makes up the best vitamin B-Complex supplements. Of course, we will explain the pertinent information such as the role of the various B Vitamins, B deficiencies, the benefits of a B-Complex supplement, who needs a B-complex, and dosages. However, our primary focus will be, what makes a great supplement, and more specifically, what attributes are present in our choices for the best vitamin B-Complex products.
We intend to help make you a more informed consumer when you go online or to your favorite brick and mortar retailer selling dietary supplements – particularly when it comes to a vitamin B-Complex.
If you’d rather skip past the information and jump to our top choices, feel free to scroll to the bottom of this guide. Otherwise, let’s get started!
The B Vitamins are a class of eight water-soluble vitamins that play essential roles in cell metabolism and the synthesis of red blood cells. They help your body produce energy from the foods you consume, fight infections and chronic disease. B9, folate, or folic acid is also crucial for healthy pregnancies and to reduce the risk of birth defects.
The B Vitamins are readily available through your diet in proteins from meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Other dietary sources are leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Food manufacturers also fortify products such as cereals and bread with added B Vitamins.
Like B9, folate, each B Vitamin has a number and a name. Some are more easily recognized by their names, such as niacin or biotin. We provide the numerical designation, the proper name, and each B Vitamin’s role in the following segment.
The Eight B Vitamins
Although each B vitamin has unique functions, as explained below, most of them are involved in the same bodily processes, such as metabolism and acting as cofactors for enzymes.
- B1 – Thiamine: B1 enables the body to convert carbohydrates to energy and plays an essential role in nerve, muscle, and heart cells’ growth and function.
- B2 – Riboflavin: B2 also helps convert food, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into energy. It helps keep muscles, nerves, eyes, and skin healthy. An excess of dietary riboflavin, usually from supplements, is what causes urine to become bright yellow.
- B3 – Niacin: B3 is an essential nutrient used in every part of your body. More than 400 enzymes depend on Niacin to function correctly. Its primary benefits are to help lower cholesterol, ease arthritis, and boost brain function. Niacin’s chemical forms are found in foods and used in supplements, nicotinic acid, and nicotinamide.
- B5 – Pantothenic Acid: B5 is one of the most important vitamins; it’s required to make blood cells, help convert the food you eat into energy, and proper functioning of the nervous system.
- B6 – Pyridoxine: B6 is essential for metabolism, red blood cell formulation, fighting infections, and mood regulation.
- B7 – Biotin: B7 also plays a vital role in metabolizing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It helps to synthesize the amino acids isoleucine and valine, important building blocks of muscle. Biotin deficiency contributes to hair loss and skin issues.
- B9 – Folate: B9 as Folate, the natural form of vitamin B9, is naturally present in various foods. Folic acid, B9 in its synthetic form, is added to fortify foods and is sold as a supplement. Folic acid in supplementation is preferred as it is better absorbed. As previously mentioned, B9 is crucial during early pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine.
- B12 – Cobalamin: B12 is required for energy, neurological function, proper red blood cell formation, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 supplements are typically derived from two sources: methylcobalamin, the natural source, or cyanocobalamin, a synthetic. Although cyanocobalamin is thought to be more bioavailable, methylcobalamin may be retained in the body longer. B12 is frequently taken as a single vitamin either injected or sublingually for energy.
B Vitamin Deficiencies
Most B Vitamin deficiencies in the U.S. are rare as these nutrients are readily available in the food we eat, whether naturally or through fortification. B12 deficiency is, however, more common, particularly in the elderly.
The symptoms of B deficiencies depend on which specific B vitamin may be deficient. Common symptoms include fatigue, confusion, depression, other neurological impairments, anemia, hair loss, and skin issues.
Examples of symptoms of specific deficiencies include:
- B1, B2, and B6 deficiencies are rare today in the U.S. Physical symptoms include cracks or sores on the outside of the lips and at the corners of the mouth.
- Anemia, a condition where you lack sufficient red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body, resulting in weakness and fatigue, is a symptom of deficiencies of B1, B2, B6, and B9.
- B12 deficiencies are more prevalent and can lead to issues in the nervous and circulatory systems. B12 deficiency can also result in psychological conditions such as dementia, paranoia, and depression.
What Is A Vitamin B-Complex?
Products that contain multiple B Vitamins or all eight B Vitamins are considered B-Complex supplements. Those sold individually, such as B2 or B3 are referred to by the specific number or name, riboflavin, or niacin.
Since water-soluble vitamins are stored only in small amounts in the body, they must be replenished daily through diet or supplementation. B Vitamin supplements help ensure you achieve your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of each B Vitamin, and in the case of deficiencies, they help alleviate symptoms.
B-Complex vitamins come in varied delivery forms: capsules, tablets, soft gels, liquid, chewable, and gummies. B12 is often delivered as an injection or sublingual.
Benefits Of A Vitamin B-Complex
As articulated, the B vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining your health and well-being, converting food to energy, in red blood cell production, and as coenzymes. Other benefits of B Vitamin supplementation:
- Fight Infections
- Improve Brain Function
- Enhance Eyesight
- Proper Nerve Function
- Build Muscle
- Regulate Hormones and Cholesterol
- Cardiovascular Health
The medical community endorses B vitamins for pregnant and breastfeeding women to aid in fetal brain development and reduce the risk of birth defects.
Who Needs A Vitamin B-Complex?
The two groups most at risk for B deficiencies are older adults and pregnant women. The Mayo Clinic recommends pregnant women increase their daily intake of folate to 400 – 1,000 mcg/day. Other adult RDAs for B Vitamins are listed below in the dosage segment.
Other conditions that increase the risk of B deficiencies due to malabsorption are alcohol abuse and those with Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, and HIV. People with kidney disease, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and ulcerative colitis should discuss their B Vitamin needs with their healthcare professional.
B Vitamin Recommended Daily Allowances
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for B Vitamins differs by age, gender, and special conditions. Remember, since B Vitamins are water-soluble and do not stay in the body for long, they must be taken each day through diet or supplementation. However, excessive doses of these vitamins in supplement form may cause unwanted side effects. Many B-complex supplements, including our Best Of, provide larger amounts of certain vitamins than the RDA, so if you are taking a B-complex supplement to support general health, it’s best to update your healthcare provider and pharmacist with what you are taking.
For adult dosages of B Vitamins for Men and Women, please see the chart below, an excerpt from the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Micronutrient Information Center.
Are Vitamin B-Complex Supplements Safe?
B-Complex vitamins are generally considered safe for healthy adults, even when taken in higher doses as your body excretes any excess. The risk of overdose is minimal. B Vitamins do have the potential to interact with certain prescription medicines, so please consult your physician before adding any supplement to your regimen. This is especially apt for pregnant women and those with existing medical conditions.
And, now on to the meat of our article …
What To Look For In A Vitamin B-Complex Supplement
There are certain things one should look for in any dietary supplement.
- Your first due diligence item is to ensure the products are manufactured in a certified cGMP facility (Good Manufacturing Practices).
- Next, look for companies and brands with independent third-party testing for quality-assurance such as USP, NSF, NSF Certified Safe for Sport, and BSCG (Banned Substance Control Group).
- We highly recommend choosing items from a reputable company – such as those represented in our Best Of selections.
- Transparency – avoid products and brands that use “proprietary formulations” that do not list each ingredient’s precise dosage.
- Many products use patented and trademarked ingredients supported by clinical trials to support structure/function claims. Verify that the component is dosed at the level used in the clinical tests. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to the company for clarification.
- Other important considerations are certified organic, Non-GMO, Gluten-free, Vegan or Vegetarian, Kosher, and Halal.
- Finally, thoroughly read and review the product label, especially the Supplement or Nutrition Facts Panel, to ensure there are no fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
By following the above guidelines, you will significantly enhance your ability to find quality nutritional supplements regardless of the category you are shopping.
For our selection of the best B- Complex Vitamins, we scoured the market for products that adhered to the above principles plus:
- Products that contain all eight B vitamins or a strong representation of Bs.
- Supplements that feature the active and most absorbable forms of the vitamins such as methylcobalamin, the active form of B12.
- Products that meet or exceed the RDAs for each vitamin.
Best Vitamin B-Complex
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Vitamin B Complex
Garden of Life is one of the most reputable companies in the natural products space. This nationally recognized brand’s products are formulated by Dr. David Perlmutter, a board-certified neurologist, and expert in the human microbiome.
In addition to all eight B Vitamins, at or exceeding their RDAs, this B-Complex from whole foods has a Fruits and Vegetables Blend and a Probiotic and Enzyme Blend for digestive support. Vitamin Code Raw is all plant-based and vegan ingredients. The B12 is methylcobalamin for consumers who may have slightly lower levels of vitamin B12 due to their diet.
Certifications include Project Non-GMO Verified, NSF, Kosher, Vegetarian, non-Dairy and non-Soy. The serving size is two vegan capsules at the cost of $.18 per serving. There are no synthetic sweeteners, artificial colors, or preservatives in the product.GET THE BEST PRICE ON GARDEN OF LIFE VITAMIN CODE VITAMIN B COMPLEX
Country Life Coenzyme B-Complex
This B-Complex vitamin from Country Life contains all eight B Vitamins, in their body-ready, or “coenzymated” form, plus PABA, Phosphatidylcholine, Inositol, and Alpha-Lipoic Acid to support the cellular energy production process. Each ingredient exceeds the RDA. Certifications are Non-GMO, certified organic, Gluten-free, NSF, Vegetarian, and Kosher. The B12 in the product is from methylcobalamin. No synthetic sweeteners, artificial colors, or controversial preservatives were identified in this product.
The serving size is two capsules at the cost of $.14 per serving.GET THE BEST PRICE ON COUNTRY LIFE COENZYME B-COMPLEX
Solgar Vitamin B-Complex
Solgar has been a trusted name in the dietary supplement industry since 1947. Their products are manufactured in the U.S.A. in a cGMP certified facility with the finest ingredients sourced worldwide. B-Complex 100 is a once/daily vegetable capsule that provides all eight B vitamins.
A review of the Supplement Facts panel illustrates each B Vitamin is dosed more than the Daily Values and that the formula includes Choline and Inositol. Choline is an essential nutrient that works with B Vitamins to metabolize nucleic acids and amino acids. The panel also depicts certifications for Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Kosher, and Halal. The only other ingredients constitute the Vegan Capsules, and there are no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
A serving is one vegetable capsule, and the cost per serving is $.20.GET THE BEST PRICE ON SOLGAR VITAMIN B-COMPLEX
New Chapter Coenzyme B Food Complex
New Chapter is owned by Proctor & Gamble, one of the world’s oldest and largest consumer products companies. They have a variety of supplements including their New Chapter Probiotics supplement and this coenzyme b-food complex supplement. Their fermented Coenzyme B Complex contains all eight B Vitamins in their active forms, exceeding the recommended Daily Values, plus three blends and two additional ingredients. The blends are for Stress and Energy, Cardio Support, and Immune Support. The additional ingredients are organic Turmeric and Ginger. The ferment media contains probiotics and digestive enzymes, making this one of the most comprehensive products on our list.
The product is certified organic, NSF certified gluten-free, and 100% vegetarian with no artificial colors or flavors. Each two tablet serving costs approximately $.23.GET THE BEST PRICE ON NEW CHAPTER COENZYME B FOOD COMPLEX
Nordic Naturals Vitamin B Complex
Although best known for their fish oils, Nordic Naturals also makes an excellent B complex. The product contains all eight B Vitamins in their most absorbable forms, including methylcobalamin and 5-MTHF, the active form of folate.
All Nordic Naturals’ supplements are manufactured in a cGMP facility, are non-GMO, gluten- and dairy-free, and do not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Their B Complex is also Certified Vegan.
The company offers customers a certificate of analysis to verify that their products have undergone third-party testing for quality and adhere to product specifications and standards.
The serving size is one vegan capsule at the cost of $.57.GET THE BEST PRICE ON NORDIC NATURALS VITAMIN B COMPLEX
To Summarize: Best Vitamin B-Complex
B Vitamins play a crucial role in your health and wellbeing, helping your body produce energy, in the synthesis of red blood cells, and fighting infections and disease. Although deficiencies in most types of B are rare, a great B-Complex supplement such as those listed above serves as an excellent, inexpensive insurance policy, ensuring you achieve your recommended daily intake.
Armed with your list of guidelines for selecting supplements, and B-Complex supplements, in particular, we think you’ll find the quality you are seeking at a price to fit your budget.