Vitamin B Health Update 
By Walter Sorochan

Posted November 30, 2015;updated November 6, 2021. Disclaimer Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen. Work in Progress.

The many B vitamins are referred to as B-complex vitamins. A B-complex supplement supposedly includes all the B vitamins.  The assumption is that including all of these in a package will somehow help prevent bodily disorders.   

Proponents suggest that taking a vitamin B complex may help treat or prevent certain health problems. There is some controversy about doing this.  Such claims ignore the bio-chemical research that each nutrient needs co-factors or helpers for the B vitamins to be bioavailable to the body.  Bioavailability means the nutrient is absorbed into the blood stream and that the blood stream will deliver the nutrient to the somatic cells, that in turn, will absorb the nutrient as well.  This is a tall order and the science used by marketers of supplements is missing on all of this.  Most marketers selling B-complex supplements do not have such nano-technology.

Traditional approaches by nutritionists advocated taking single vitamins.  Such an approach overlooked the new discovery that nutrients need other vitamin and mineral co-helpers and work as a team instead of working individually.

Research clearly indicates that a deficiency in a single B vitamin can stunt growth and produce significant adverse effects.  Article by Riordan: Vit B study is no longer active.  B vitamins include:  B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), B12 [cobalamin].  B-vitamins are all water-soluble.

Yes, the vitamin B complex is a supplement and the internet is full of commercial companies selling their supplements and offering unsupported and biased information about B vitamins that are supposed to sanctify their supplement.  Neither B-complex supplements nor individual B vitamins may be of much benefit!

In spite of new research telling us that B vitamins work as helpers in much bigger chemical processes controlled by methylation, this article briefly presents information in the traditional format for individual B vitamins as sourced by The National Institutes of Health, 2011.

B1 or Thiamine: [ National Institutes of Health ]

Thiamine was the first B vitamin to be discovered by scientists… hence the “1”. Thiamin helps the body turn food into energy. You can find it in a variety of foods, as an individual supplement, and in multivitamins.

Thiamine is an essential nutrient, and all the tissues of the body, including the brain, need thiamine to function properly. The body needs thiamine to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that transports energy within cells.

Thiamine Deficiency:   Deficiency: nonspecific signs include malaise, weight loss, irritability and confusion.

Benefits:  Vitamin B-1 [ thiamine ]:   WebMD: Vit B1

Most people can get all the thiamine they need from food. Thiamine can be found in pork, poultry, peas, nuts, dried beans, soybeans, whole grain cereals, lentils, legumes, bread, rice, and yeast. Many whole grain products, such as cereals, breads, rice, and pasta, are fortified with thiamine. Although there are no real risk factors associated with thiamine consumption, certain foods can cancel out the body's usage of thiamine, leading to deficiency. Drinking lots of coffee or tea [even decaffeinated ] can deplete the body of thiamine. Chewing tea leaves and betel nuts, as well as regularly eating raw fish and shellfish, can have similar effects.

Vitamin B2 [Riboflavin]: 

B2 helps prevent cervical cancer and migraines. It is important for healthy functioning of the muscles, nerves, and heart.

It is found in beef, milk, eggs, vegetables including broccoli and spinach, and fortified cereals.

B3 [Niacin]:

B3 helps regulate the nervous and digestive systems and raises levels of HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. It is found in turkey and other poultry, plus fish, peanuts, and other legumes — and is often added to energy bars and supplements.

B5 [Pantothenic Acid]

It is required for normal growth and development. Sometimes B5 is used to treat nerve damage, skin problems, and alcoholism. It is found in animal sources like eggs and organ meats, plus plant sources like nuts, lentils, brown rice, avocados, sunflower seeds, and whole grains.

B6 [Pyridoxine]

It supports the immune system and aids the body in breaking down protein, helps produce serotonin and norepinephrine, and forms the myelin sheath on nerve cells. B6 is mostly found in animal products like meat, eggs, and poultry, plus bananas, enriched cereals, and spinach.

B7 [Biotin]:

B7 is involved in the production of hormones may help keep nails and skin healthy. It is found in strawberries, meat, cheese, and soy products.

B9 [Folic Acid vs folate]:

B9 helps cells make and maintain DNA and helps form red blood cells. It is also important for fetal development because it helps to form the baby’s nervous system. Recently, research has shown that a high intake of folic acid is problematic—some studies link it to increased rates of cancer, cognitive decline, anemia, and heart disease.

There is a difference between folate [ absorbed from food ] and folic acid [ the synthesized form ]. The former is methylated, the latter requires a methylation process to become biologically active [metafolin].

Folate is a general term describing over 150 different forms of folate, a water-soluble B-vitamin that generally comes from food [ but it can include synthetic folic acid ]. Folic acid is completely synthetic and did not exist before it was created in a lab. Biochemically, it does not metabolize the same way as the natural folates derived from food, and actually makes it more difficult for us to absorb natural folates. 

Folic acid is ound mostly in uncooked leafy dark green vegetables like spinach as well as asparagus and  chickpeas.  It is also found in all manner of processed foods—cereals, breads, pasta, and tons of multi-vitamins and supplements. B9 is often added to enrich these products.

B12 [ cobalamin ]: 

Is required for methylation, normal growth and development.  The cheaper and more common cobalamin is non-methylated, while the more expensive hydroxycobalamin or methylcobalamin are methylated. B12 is essential for healthy blood and nerves, and for the prevention of anemia. Found mostly in animal products, B12 is richest in chicken, fish, beef, eggs, and milk.   Article by Riordan: Vit B study is no longer active.

Deficiency symptoms:  low energy, moodiness, insomnia, confusion, hearing & vision problems, weak immunity, tingling in extremities.  Vitamin B-12 deficiency is often found in vegetarians and this may predispose them to cardiovascular disorders. Woo: B12 deficiency & CVD 2014

B Complex Supplements

Food Sources of B Vitamins:

To increase your intake of B complex vitamins, include the following foods in your diet:

Although B complex supplements are generally considered safe, they may cause certain side effects, such as skin problems and an increase in blood sugar levels. 

Much of the information about B vitamins is now outdated and has been augmented by methylation and nutrigenomics [ how the foods we eat interact with our genes to affect our health ].  Cohen: Methylation & diseases 2014   Corey: Methylation & health 2015  Methylation is now explaining the complex nano-biochemistry of how vitamins, minerals and amino acids work collectively as co-factors in turning the genetic switches on or off in either preventing or activating human diseases or health.   Costello: Vit Bs & Methylation  2001  Richardson: Methylation & immune system 2003   Thus, vitamins once thought to be major players in preventing diseases are now recognized as having supporting roles in the methylation process.

The best source of B vitamins is organically grown foods grown on soils not depleted of minerals.   Stidley Methylation, food & smoking 2010

Consult your informed health care provider to find out how to best ingest B vitamins.

Everyone needs to go to school about methylation and to do that go to: methylation. Life was so simple until nano-technology was discovered.


Cohen Suzy, "Methylation Problems Lead to 100s of Diseases," Cancer, Immune, PAIN, Thyroid, January 8, 2014.  · Cohen: Methylation & diseases 2014

Corey Michelle, "Methylation: Why It Matters For Your Immunity, Inflammation & More," MindBodyGreem, April 9, 2015.   Corey: Methylation & health 2015

Costello J.F., and C. Plass, “Methylation Matters,” Journal of Medical Genetics, Vol. 38, No. 5, 2001, pp. 285- 303. Costello: Vit Bs & Methylation  2001  [ Discuss the current knowledge of DNA methylation in normal cells and disease states, and how this relates directly to our current understanding of the mechanisms by which tumours arise.  "If methylation patterns are not properly established or maintained, disorders as diverse as mental retardation, immune deficiency, and sporadic or inherited cancers may follow."]

Herbert V.,  Vitamin B12 in Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 17th ed. International Life Sciences Institute Press, 1996.  

Richardson Bruce, "DNA Methylation in the Immune System," Clinical Immunology, October 2003, Volume 109, Issue 1, Pages 72–79.   Richardson: Methylation & immune system 2003

Riordan Hugh H., and others, "The effects of a primary nutritional deficiency (Vitamin B study), Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2012, 3, 1238-1244.     Article by Riordan: Vit B study is no longer active.  

Skokowa Julia, and other, "NAMPT is essential for the G-CSF–induced myeloid differentiation via a NAD+–sirtuin-1–dependent pathway," Nature Medicine, February 2009, 15, 151 - 158.   Skokawa: 2009   [ Abstract: a safe way to improve immunity in cancer patients how vitamin B3, also called niacin, can improve the ability of the body to make new immune cells known as neutrophils. In addition to this finding, the researchers discovered that giving high doses of vitamin B3 significantly increases neutrophil count in healthy people. The vitamin B3 doses used in the study ranged from 10 to 20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (mg/kg/day).]

Stidley Christine A. and others, "Multivitamins, Folate, and Green Vegetables Protect against Gene Promoter Methylation in the Aerodigestive Tract of Smokers," Cancer Res, January 15, 2010.   Stidley Methylation, food & smoking 2010

WebMD, Vitamin B1,"   WebMD: Vit B1

Wong Cathy, "B Complex Vitamins Health benefits, common uses, and more," AboutHealth, December 19, 2014.   Wong: B-complex vitamins 2014

Woo Kam S., Timothy C.Y. Kwok, and David S. Celermajer, "Vegan Diet, Subnormal Vitamin B-12 Status and Cardiovascular Health," Nutrients, August 19, 2014, 6(8): 3259–3273.   Woo: B12 deficiency & CVD 2014

American Cancer Society. "Vitamin B Complex". May 2010.

Chang TY, Chou KJ, Tseng CF, Chung HM, Fang HC, Hung YM, Wu MJ, Tzeng HM, Lind CC, Lu KC. "Effects of folic acid and vitamin B complex on serum C-reactive protein and albumin levels in stable hemodialysis patients." Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Aug;23(8):1879-86.

Clarke R, Lewington S, Sherliker P, Armitage J. "Effects of B-vitamins on plasma homocysteine concentrations and on risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia." Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007 Jan;10(1):32-9.

Galan P, Kesse-Guyot E, Czernichow S, Briancon S, Blacher J, Hercberg S; SU.FOL.OM3 Collaborative Group. "Effects of B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids on cardiovascular diseases: a randomised placebo controlled trial." BMJ. 2010 Nov 29;341:c6273. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6273.

National Institutes of Health. "B Vitamins: Medline Plus". August 2011.

National Institutes of Health. "Folic acid: MedlinePlus Supplements". August 2011.

National Institutes of Health. "Niacin and niacinamide (Vitamin B3): MedlinePlus Supplements". August 2011.

National Institutes of Health. "Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): MedlinePlus Supplements". August 2011.

National Institutes of Health. "Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): MedlinePlus Supplements". August 2011.

National Institutes of Health. "Thiamine (Vitamin B1): MedlinePlus Supplements". August 2011.

National Institutes of Health. "Vitamin B12: MedlinePlus Supplements". August 2011.

Neiva RF, Al-Shammari K, Nociti FH Jr, Soehren S, Wang HL. "Effects of vitamin-B complex supplementation on periodontal wound healing." J Periodontol. 2005 Jul;76(7):1084-91.