The benefits of a B-complex

Last weekend someone asked me, “What is a B-complex?’ and that question is what has inspired my blog post this week since there is an abundance of information available on B-complexes but there are a few key points that are important to know.

What is a B-Complex?

When all the B vitamins are put together into a single supplement, it is known as a b-complex.  All of the water-soluble B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12), biotin and folic acid are usually included in a b-complex supplement.

Why would you supplement with a B-Complex?

1. You are not ingesting enough B vitamins through your diet.  This would be the case of a vegetarian, especially a vegan who is abstaining from dairy and eggs.

2. You are ingesting a substance that depletes the amount of B vitamins in your body such as alcohol, the birth control pill, and other pharmaceutical medications.

3. You are eliminating excessive amounts of B vitamins through excessive urination or perspiration.

4. You have an illness that can be improved by supplementation with high doses of B vitamins such as anxiety/depression, migraines or cardiovascular disease.  B-complexes are also used for stress management.

What do the numbers of a B-complex mean?

A B50 complex contains 50 milligrams of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6.  A B100 contains double the amount at 100 milligrams of each.  The remaining vitamins are included in smaller amounts.

Is it better to take a B-complex or to supplement with each B vitamin individually?

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  High doses of specific B vitamins can be more  indicated for certain health conditions than a lower dose B-complex.

You should always speak to your primary care provider to determine if supplementing with B vitamins is beneficial for you and your specific situation.

Are there negative side effects from taking a B-complex?

B-complexes are generally safe at these high doses since B vitamins are water-soluble and are not stored in your body.  However, side effects are always possible.  Common side effects include sweating, skin flushing, nausea, vomiting, digestive upset, insomnia, excessive energy/agitation, bright yellow and smelly urine due to the breakdown products of the B-complex that are eliminated in your urine.

Overall, B vitamins are required for numerous essential functions in your body and generally have a beneficial effect.

A new field called Orthomolecular medicine is emerging which aims to restore optimal functioning of the body by supplementing with high doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids to treat deficiencies and imbalances which contribute to disease states.

Naturopathic doctors are trained in the use of orthomolecular medicine, so if you are interested in being treated using these methods it is best to start by seeing a naturopathic doctor.  Psychiatrists are also starting to use orthomolecular concepts to treat mental illness.  The benefits of high dose nutrient supplementation for a multitude of diseases are emerging in the latest nutrition research.

More information about orthomolecular medicine can be found here:

Orthomolecular Medicine Online 

International Society of Orthomolecular Medicine

Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine


About drellensimonend
Dr. Simone strongly believes that the mind and body are connected to your overall health and wellness. As a primary health care provider, her practice provides ongoing support throughout your healing journey. Her role as your Naturopathic Doctor is to assist you in discovering your needs, support you in personal growth and help you reach your health and wellness goals. With the belief that happiness and balance is possible for everyone, Dr. Simone strives to help her patients live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. Dr. Simone focuses on family wellness and has special interests in women and children’s health. She has experience with reproductive health, working with women through different phases in their lives; to regulate the menstrual cycle, ease PMS symptoms, optimize fertility, provide support during and after pregnancy, maintain breast health and welcome menopause. Children have also been a primary focus in Dr. Simone’s life in both her professional role as a naturopath and in her volunteer work. She believes that setting healthy habits at a young age can be critical for long-term health and wellness.

5 Responses to The benefits of a B-complex

  1. Emily says:

    Hi Dr. Simone – I recently started taking an Orthomolecular Bcomplex vitamin and have had some strange reactions including tiny black spots on my tongue and tremors in my left arm. I’m wondering if you’ve heard of instances of this type of reaction from a b vitamin or whether it might just be unrelated? I have had no reactions to b12 supplements alone (which I’ve been taking for a slight deficiency) however, I started having these reactions when I took a bcomplex.

    Thanks for your advice!

    • Hi Emily! I’ve never heard of a reaction like this to a b-complex before, however there is always the possibility of adverse reactions and some people are more sensitive than others. Another possibility is that you are reacting to a preservative, artificial colour or chemical filler that may be in the b-complex supplement. I’d definitely discontinue it and follow up with your medical doctor for tests to make sure these symptoms are not related to a health issue that has yet to be diagnosed. Unfortunately I cannot give you any more specific advice over this blog format…if you need a referral to a naturopathic doctor in your city let me know and I’d be happy to help!

  2. Pingback: Happy two year anniversary to my blog! « Dr. Ellen Simone, ND

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