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B-Complex Vitamin Benefits & Side Effects

author image Jaime Herndon
Jaime Herndon has been writing for health websites since 2009 and has guest-blogged on SheKnows. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women's studies, she earned a Master of Science in clinical health psychology and a Master of Public Health in maternal-child health. Her interests include oncology, women's health and exercise science.
B-Complex Vitamin Benefits & Side Effects
Vitamin B complex supplements on a white countertop. Photo Credit khuntapol/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin B complex is actually a group of vitamins that include eight B vitamins. These B vitamins can be found in animal and plant sources, as well as in supplement form. They play a variety of roles in the body and provide numerous benefits. Taking too much of any vitamin can be dangerous and cause side effects. Before you take B complex supplements, it is best to consult with your doctor to see what dosage is appropriate for you.

Proper Bodily Functioning

B vitamins help the body convert food into glucose, which provides energy to the body. Fat and protein metabolizing is also aided by B vitamins, as well as healthy nervous system functioning. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, helps boost the immune system and strengthen the body under stressful conditions. Vitamin B6, known as pyroxidine, helps the body make certain hormones, as well as chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. It also helps boost immune system functioning.

Lower Cholesterol

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, has been shown to lower "bad" cholesterol levels, or LDL, levels and boost "good" cholesterol, known as HDL. This may also help prevent hardening of the arteries. Large doses of niacin can cause side effects and may cause liver problems. Before using B complex or niacin for cholesterol reasons, it is best to consult with your health care provider.

Promote Healthy Growth

Folate, one of the B complex vitamins, or its synthetic form folic acid, helps promote healthy fetal development as well as helps to make new cells in the body. Folate is necessary to make RNA and DNA, which help form cells. This vitamin also aids in producing red blood cells and helps prevent anemia. During pregnancy, folate protects against neural tube defects.

Side Effects

B vitamins are water-soluble; much of the excess of these vitamins gets excreted through urine. If taken in large doses, however, vitamin B complex can have negative side effects. Side effects include gout, high blood sugar and skin problems. Overdoses of B vitamins can lead to heart and liver complications, and high doses of vitamin B3, or niacin, can cause vision problems, nausea and vomiting and worsening of stomach ulcers. If you are on chemotherapy, high doses of folic acid can interfere with these drugs.

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