Vitamin B - Energy, nerves and health

In this guide, you will learn everything about the health benefits of vitamin B. Our nutritionists provide interesting information and answer frequently asked questions, such as 'How do you recognize a vitamin B deficiency?' 'What can the vitamin B complex do for your health?'

Vitamin B Guide - What you should know!

Scientists and researchers agree that the vitamin B complex is of particular importance to our health. The B vitamins take on many important tasks in the body.

They support energy and muscle function, contribute to a healthy immune system and promote the health of the cardiovascular system. Even people who want to have beautiful skin and strong hair need a lot of vitamin B.

The body consumes a particularly large amount of vitamin B, particularly in the case of physical, psychological and emotional stress. A vitamin B complex is therefore particularly suitable for people who are under stress often.

What is the vitamin B complex?

When it comes to health, vitamin B is mentioned often. But what is vitamin B and what is the vitamin B complex? There is actually no single vitamin B, but rather a number of B vitamins. Vitamin B complex is a collective term for eight vitamins:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

The B vitamins are together in a group and from a purely chemical point of view, they are quite different. However, all B vitamins are water and not fat soluble. Most of the water-soluble vitamins can't be stored by the body. So you have to consume them regularly so that there is no deficiency.

Vitamin B12 is an exception. A healthy person has a vitamin B12 storage and can therefore do without adequate intake for several months. However, most people do not have enough of this memory, so there are still deficiency symptoms.

Vitamin B effect

The vitamin B complex is a group of natural compounds that are essential for the body because they are involved in the production of energy from food. Every single B vitamin is involved in a large number of crucial metabolic processes without which the human body would not function.

The tasks of the individual vitamins are varied and complex. But what exactly is vitamin B good for?

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is also popularly known as the mood vitamin. It plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism and is therefore important for the production of energy for the body. Without vitamin B1, the glucose metabolism does not work properly. The mitochondria, the cell's power plants, also need thiamine to generate energy.

Vitamin B1:
  • contributes to a normal energy metabolism
  • supports the nervous system
  • contributes to a normal psychological function
  • has a positive effect on the heart function

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin is also important for energy metabolism. This is how the vitamin contributes to the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins from food. The vital substance also supports the liver in its important detoxification function and ensures healthy hair, beautiful skin and firm nails. ⁠

The effects of other vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin B3 and folic acid also depend on vitamin B2 to a certain extent. This makes it clear that the vitamins in the vitamin B complex support each other in their effects.

Vitamin B2:
  • is involved in normal energy metabolism
  • contributes to the healthy functioning of the nervous system
  • the body needs to maintain the red blood cells (erythrocytes) and thus also for a normal iron metabolism
  • has a positive impact on eyesight
  • protects the cells from oxidative stress
  • can reduce tiredness and rapid fatigue

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Without niacin, the body can't gain energy. The organism also relies on the vital substance for cell formation and muscle regeneration. Vitamin B3 is also involved in the regulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. Vitamin B3 is required for a balanced ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol.

Vitamin B3:
  • contributes to normal energy metabolism
  • promotes healthy nerve function and mental functions
  • serves to preserve the mucous membranes and the skin
  • can reduce tiredness and fatigue

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Pantothenic acid promotes tissue regeneration and is important for wound healing. It is involved in carbohydrate and protein metabolism as well as fat and cholesterol metabolism.

Vitamin B5:
  • is, like all B vitamins, important for the energy metabolism
  • contributes to the synthesis of steroid hormones, vitamin D and messenger substances (neurotransmitters)
  • reduces fatigue and improves mental performance

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

As a co-factor for many enzymes, the vitamin is involved in various metabolic processes. The red blood pigment hemoglobin and many neurotransmitters such as serotonin can't be produced without vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6:
  • contributes to normal cysteine synthesis and energy metabolism
  • is involved in blood formation
  • supports the immune system
  • reduces fatigue and exhaustion
  • regulates hormone activity
  • is what the body needs for normal protein and glycogen metabolism
  • maintains normal mental functions

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Biotin is known as the vitamin for healthy hair, firm nails and beautiful skin. It is involved in various processes of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism.

Vitamin B7:
  • is an important part of energy metabolism
  • contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system
  • supports the health of skin, hair and mucous membranes
  • has an impact on mental functions

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)

The cell vitamin is important for all growth processes in the body. It plays a vital role in cell division. This is why women in pregnancy have an increased need for vitamin B9. But the cardiovascular system also relies on folic acid.

Vitamin B9:
  • contributes to the growth of maternal tissue during pregnancy
  • is important for blood formation and for a normal homocysteine metabolism and thus for the health of the vessels and the heart
  • has a function in cell division
  • reduces tiredness and fatigue

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is probably the most important vitamin for healthy nerves. The body also needs cobalamin to convert folic acid into its active form.

Vitamin B12:
  • is involved in energy metabolism
  • supports the function of the nervous system
  • contributes to a healthy homocysteine metabolism
  • can have a positive effect on mental functions
  • has an impact on the immune system
  • is what the body needs for the production of red blood cells and for cell division
  • can reduce tiredness and fatigue

Vitamin B deficiency

In regard to the multifaceted tasks of B vitamins, it becomes clear how important the vitamin B complex is for health. A vitamin B deficiency can cause many complaints.

Vitamin B deficiency symptoms

The B vitamins are involved in many processes in the organism. The symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency are accordingly diverse and often also unspecific. A vitamin B deficiency can cause symptoms of the skin, nervous system or muscle function.

Possible symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency include: [

  • Headache (B1)
  • Memory and concentration disorders up to dementia (B1)
  • Dry and inflamed skin (B2 and B6)
  • Loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting (B6)
  • Lack of red blood cells (B12)
  • Damage to the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat (B12)

Vitamin B deficiency causes

There are various causes for a lack of B vitamins. Among other things, malnutrition can lead to deficiency symptoms. For example, vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. Vegetarians and especially vegans are particularly at risk of suffering from a deficiency.

A one-sided diet with a high proportion of convenience products can also lead to a vitamin deficiency. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a balanced mixed diet with at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day to meet the nutritional needs. ⁠

But not only malnutrition can lead to a vitamin deficiency. Many deficiency states are based on an absorption disturbance in the gastrointestinal tract. This can be caused, for example, by improper colonization of the intestine (dysbiosis) or by inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

In order to absorb vitamin B12, the so-called intrinsic factor is also required. This is produced in the stomach. In gastric diseases, there may be a lack of intrinsic factor and thus a vitamin B12 deficiency.

A deficiency can also arise with a particularly high need for B vitamins. In particular, people who are in a stressful life situation have an increased consumption. The consumption also increases with infections as well as with poison and radical pollution. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also need more B vitamins.

What to do about a vitamin B deficiency?

Once there is a vitamin B deficiency, it is difficult to eliminate it through food. Supplementing the appropriate vitamin is recommended. The intake of a vitamin B complex is recommended because the B vitamins work closely together and support each other in their effects.

How quickly does a vitamin B complex work?

B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins and are therefore available to the body very quickly. Especially people with a pronounced deficiency have good experiences with a vitamin B complex. This often shows a quick improvement in symptoms.

However, it can take several weeks or even months until an adequate vitamin level is regained. A continuous intake is therefore recommended.

Vitamin B in foods

Many people ask themselves the question: "Which foods contain vitamin B?" Foods rich in vitamin B are, for example, fruits and vegetables. Cereal products such as oatmeal or bran are also foods with a high vitamin B content. Vitamin B foods also belong meat and animal products, which play an important role in the supply of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B food table - What contains vitamin B?

  • Vitamin B1: Pork fillet, ham, beef, sunflower seeds, beans, brown rice, oatmeal, soybeans
  • Vitamin B2: Fish, eggs, cheese (e.g. brie and camembert), bran, mushrooms, liver
  • Vitamin B3: Kale, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, pork, beef and lamb, chicken, brown rice, bran, peanuts
  • Vitamin B5: Oatmeal, brown rice, bran, legumes, butter, fish, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, peanuts and hazelnuts
  • Vitamin B6: Bran, tuna, herring, salmon, legumes, bananas, potatoes, nuts, meat
  • Vitamin B7: Oatmeal, bran, peas, soybeans, milk, eggs, peanuts, liver
  • Vitamin B9: Bran, legumes, green vegetables, liver
  • Vitamin B12: Cheese (e.g. Brie, Edam or Emmental cheese), low-fat curd cheese, cream cheese, milk, fish and seafood, lamb, sausage, liver and kidney (particularly high content)

Vitamin B need and intake

The vitamin B requirement depends on the respective vitamin as well as on age and gender. For example, the daily vitamin B requirement of folic acid in pregnant women is 550 µg, but in men it is only 300 µg.

Vitamin B daily requirement according to the recommendations of the DGE

  • Vitamin B1: 0.2 to 1.3 mg
  • Vitamin B2: 0.3 to 1.6 mg
  • Vitamin B3: 2 to 16 mg ⁠
  • Vitamin B5: 2 to 6 mg ⁠
  • Vitamin B6: 0.1 to 1.9 mg ⁠
  • Vitamin B9: 60 to 550 µg
  • Vitamin B12: 0.4 to 4 µg ⁠

Vitamin B complex dosage

Although there is not always a deficiency in all B vitamins at the same time, taking a vitamin B complex can make sense. The vitamins of the B complex work very closely together. Some B vitamins are needed to activate other B vitamins. Therefore, not only the lack of individual vitamins, but also a general imbalance in the supply of B vitamins leads to problems.

Vitamin B complex intake time of day

Not only the dosage has an impact on the effect. Even when the vitamin complex is taken, it is also important for the well-being. Therefore the question arises: "Vitamin B complex - When to take it?" A high-dose vitamin B complex has a positive effect on energy metabolism and can counteract fatigue. To prevent sleep disorders, it is therefore advisable to take it in the morning.

Vitamin B overdose

The B vitamins are water soluble. With a vitamin B overdose, the excess vitamins are therefore normally excreted through the urine. That is why a vitamin B overdose is not dangerous for most B vitamins.

However, a vitamin B complex overdose can lead to symptoms, especially if you overdose on vitamin B6 or niacin. Symptoms of a vitamin B overdose are:

  • Vascular dilatations
  • Nausea
  • Allergic reactions
  • Headaches
  • Movement and nerve disorders

However, very high doses of vitamin B is required for this. Neurological complaints only arise when taking vitamin B6 with a vitamin B cure at a dosage of 1 to 6 g over a period of 12 to 40 months. However, a vitamin B complex usually contains these vitamins in a significantly lower dosage. ⁠

Vitamin B side effects

Dietary supplements with a vitamin B complex are generally considered safe and non-toxic and very few side effects have been reported. B vitamins can cause skin side effects such as itching. When taking a vitamin B complex, weight gain can also occur as a side effect. If you are unsure whether side effects are to be feared, you can take a vitamin B complex test over a few weeks and stop taking it if side effects occur.

Those who take a high dose vitamin B complex rarely suffer from nausea, stomach pain or vomiting.

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