Vitamin B plays an essential role in maintaining the health of your cells and keeping you energized.
There are eight different types of B vitamins, all of which fall within the "B group."
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B vitamins help the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat and they help to form red blood cells, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
You can get all of the B vitamins from foods — especially protein including fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy. Many cereals and bread products are fortified with B vitamins, and B vitamins are naturally present in leafy green vegetables, beans and peas.
While all eight of the B vitamins provide benefits, we'll specifically look at the benefits of B1, B6 and B12 vitamins, and the roles they play in everyday life.
B1, a water-soluble B vitamin, is also known as thiamine.
Some say thiamine is good for boosting the immune system, digestive problems, diabetes pain, heart disease and other conditions, but there's not enough scientific evidence to be conclusive about these claims, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Your body needs vitamin B1 to break down the fats, protein and carbohydrates that you consume into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary form of energy used by your cells, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Vitamin B1 also supports the health and function of your immune and nervous systems. If your diet doesn't provide you with enough vitamin B1, you may be more likely to develop cataracts, per Oregon State University.
Thiamine is sometimes prescribed in supplement form to treat people with deficiency syndromes, including beriberi and neuritis associated with pellagra or pregnancy.
The recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin B1 for adults is about 1 milligram per day, according to the NIH. The DV increases for people who are pregnant or lactating.
Sources of Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1 naturally present in some foods, including pork, fish, beans, lentils, peas and yogurt, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Vitamin B1 is sometimes added to food products, including fortified breakfast cereals, breads, noodles and rice and can also be found in supplement form.
Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of mood-influencing hormones like norepinephrine and serotonin.
Like all eight members of the B vitamin family, vitamin B6 aids in energy metabolism.
B6 is also good for immune function and brain development during pregnancy and infancy, per the NIH.
A vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with an increased risk for mood disorders, such as depression. Vitamin B6 helps regulate your body's level of homocysteine, an amino acid that is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, per the Oregon State University.
A diet rich in vitamin B6 is associated with a decreased risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis and age-related macular degeneration. Women who lack vitamin B-6 may have more severe premenstrual syndrome symptoms.
The DV for vitamin B6 is at least 1.3 milligrams, according to the NIH. The DV increases for people who are pregnant or lactating.
Vitamin B6 and Fertility
B vitamins are often recommended for those who are trying to conceive or are already pregnant. B vitamins, including B6, are usually present in fertility supplements.
Some people say that vitamin B6 and ovulation are closely tied: A higher intake of B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 was associated with a lower risk of ovulatory infertility, according to a large, longer-running May 2008 study in Fertility and Sterility.
Vitamin B6 and fertility tend to be linked, as B6 may have benefits for pregnant people. B6 may help relieve some cases of morning sickness and may prevent certain conditions in newborns, including eczema and low birth weight, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
The Association and the NIH both advise against taking any more than 100 milligrams of a vitamin B6 supplement a day, and notes that almost every prenatal multivitamin is going to contain as much B6 as a pregnant person may need.
Increasing your level of vitamin B6 does not appear to pose any dangers to fertility specifically, but given the complex connections between nutrients and various bodily processes, one cannot know for sure.
Taking too much, however, can result in nerve damage in the arms and legs, leading to loss of controlled movement of your body. Skin lesions and stomach upset are also side effects of excessive vitamin B6 intake, according to the NIH.
If you're interested in using supplements to increase fertility, it is recommended to do so under the supervision of your doctor.
Sources of Vitamin B6
Wondering what foods have vitamin B6?
The richest sources of B6 include fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy vegetables and certain fruit, per the NIH.
B6 is also added to some foods, including fortified cereals, and is available in supplement form.
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is necessary for the production of DNA, hormones and red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.
B12 contributes to the proper functioning of the nervous system and the processing of fats and carbohydrates.
This vitamin is especially important for babies, young children and teenagers. Along with vitamin B6, B12 lowers your homocysteine levels, which may decrease your risk of heart disease, per Oregon State University.
Low intake of vitamin B12 can lead to megaloblastic anemia, dementia, weakness, nerve damage and loss of appetite.
A B12 deficiency may increase the risk of developing anemia.
Many vegetarians, vegans and older people have a difficult time consuming their recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12. If you follow a mostly plant-based diet, you may want to get your B12 levels evaluated by your health care professional.
The recommend DV for vitamin B12 is around 2.4 micrograms. The recommended DV increases for people who are pregnant or lactating.
Vitamin B12 and Fertility
Some studies have linked low levels of vitamin B12 with female infertility. An October 2015 study in Clinical Nutrition found having higher levels of B12 and folate may improve fertility in women undergoing infertility treatment.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include meat, seafood, poultry and dairy products.
If you eat little or no animal products, you can get all three B vitamins from fortified foods like ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, though you may need to also take a dietary supplement. .
Vitamin B Supplements
The drug market is flooded with many choices of vitamin B supplements, both as mixed compounds and as individual B vitamins.
Some conditions and your lifestyle can affect your body's vitamin stores and increase the need for taking a daily B-complex vitamin to help ensure you maintain adequate levels of important nutrients.
Alcohol abuse decreases absorption, so excessive drinking may lead to a deficiency. A vitamin-B deficiency can also be the result of ingesting a tapeworm from contaminated food that's not fully cooked due to the parasite sapping the nutrients from your body.
Vegetarians or people on a strict vegan diet who eliminate animal products are often deficient in B vitamins, especially vitamin B12.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have an increased demand for B vitamins, particularly B12 and folate. Not getting enough of these vitamins can result in a deficiency and possible harm to a newborn baby.
Neurobion, or Neurobion Forte, is a dietary supplement made up of a mix of B vitamins, including B1,B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. Supplements containing this group of B vitamins are sometimes called B Complex Vitamins.
Neurobion is used to prevent and treat vitamin B deficiencies. The vitamin product is likely safe, but pregnant and pregnant people are advised to talk with their health care provider before taking it. Reported side effects include constipation, stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea.
Daneuron, or Daneuron Tablet, is the brand name for a combination of vitamins B1, B6 and B12 — it contains properties similar to neurobion.
Should You Take a Vitamin B Supplement?
There are certain conditions that make it difficult for the body to take in vitamin B, including Crohn's disease, Celiac disease, HIV and misuse of alcohol.
Older adults and pregnant people need larger amounts of some types of vitamin B. If you fall into any of these categories, your doctor may prescribe supplements. It's best to discuss your desire to take B vitamins with your health care professional before diving in.
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Thiamin"
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Vitamin B-6"
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Vitamin B-12"
- USDA Dietary Reference Intakes
- B12 Deficiency: "Male and female infertility"
- National Institutes of Health: "Thiamin"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Thiamin – Vitamin B1"
- NIH: "Vitamin B6"
- Fertility and Sterility: "Use of multivitamins, intake of B vitamins and risk of ovulatory infertility"
- American Pregnancy Association: "Natural Sources of Vitamin B During Pregnancy"
- US National Library of Medicine: "B Vitamins"
- Clinical Nutrition: "Association between serum folate and vitamin B-12 and outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies"