Vitamin B-complex is a dietary supplement combination of all essential B vitamins--vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folic acid and biotin. Supplementation with B-complex can be more convenient than supplementing with each B vitamin individually, and can also help to ensure adequate intake of each of these important nutrients.
B vitamins are readily depleted in the body when you are under extra stress, when you are sick or fighting illness, during periods of intense exercise or when you are exposed to pollutants, such as cigarette smoke or smog. During such times, your body systems require extra energy for optimal function and to keep you healthy. B-complex provides the support for energy production by all cells.
B vitamins are essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein from our diet to produce energy for all the cells in the body. Cells in the brain, nervous system, heart, liver and kidneys require particularly high levels of energy and the B vitamins are vital to keeping these tissues healthy. B-complex helps alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, can reduce symptoms associated with PMS and support cardiovascular and immune health.
Elderly people and those with gastrointestinal conditions that can affect nutrient absorption should be aware of the potential for nutrient deficiencies. As you age, declining food intake and appetite can reduce your intake of B vitamins and other essential nutrients at a time when your body actually requires more of these building blocks to remain healthy. Those living with any chronic health condition or injury require extra B vitamins to help heal and repair damaged tissues. Vegetarians and long-term alcoholics also may be deficient in several B vitamins and should supplement with B-complex.
The best sources of B vitamins are fish, poultry and meats, whole grains and fresh vegetables. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is lacking in many of these foods and similarly, in the nutrients that they provide. Make sure that your diet includes lots of whole grains; organic fruits and vegetables and organic, free range or wild caught meats, poultry and fish. Nonetheless, B vitamins are also readily destroyed by heat and processing and as such, you should also take a B-complex supplement on a daily basis, particularly during times of stress, as you age and if you are living with or fighting any injury or chronic illness.
B vitamins are excreted by the body when taken in excess so there is little risk of toxicity. Certain forms of some B vitamins can cause side effects however, including vitamin B3 in the niacin or nicotinic acid form, which can cause skin flushing and the risk of liver damage if taken in high doses. Look for B-complex that contains vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide or nicotinamide.
Some prescription medications can deplete vitamin B levels in the body. Talk with your doctor about your need for extra B-complex if you are taking prescription medications, such as oral contraceptives, antibiotics or antidepressants.