Eight substances make up the vitamin B complex, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Poor absorption of these substances can result in diseases caused by vitamin B deficiencies, like beriberi, pellagra and pernicious anemia. These problems are generally not an issue in the United States because of the availability of food, according to Colorado State University -- but you may address certain health problems by improving your vitamin B absorption.
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Eat a diet rich in protein, green vegetables and enriched grain products. Your body cannot store any of the substances included in the vitamin B complex -- you must replenish your body’s vitamin B stores every day. Eat a balanced diet to improve the way your body absorbs the B vitamins.
Increase your consumption of animal protein. The cells in your stomach lining produce a special protein, called intrinsic factor, which helps you absorb vitamin B12 efficiently. Eating animal protein stimulates the production of intrinsic factor. Eat protein rich foods throughout the day. Vitamin B12 binds to protein in your digestive tract before your body absorbs it.
Manage chronic conditions and stay healthy. Diseases like pernicious anemia cause immune system damage to your stomach lining cells that may result in low levels of intrinsic factor and poor vitamin B12 absorption. Inherited conditions and acquired diseases, like beriberi, may also cause insufficient absorption of thiamine, or vitamin B1. Manage your vitamin B6 deficiencies to increase absorption of vitamin B12. Deficiencies in vitamins B6 and B12 can cause anemia, which means your blood cannot carry enough oxygen to the cells in your body.
Avoid alcohol, which can interfere with the way your body absorbs folic acid. Discuss all medications with your physician. Medicines like potassium supplements or acid-reducing drugs prevent absorption of vitamin B12 in some people.
Consume animal sources of riboflavin, which is easier for your body to absorb than vegetable sources. Vitamin Basics states that at least 90 percent of the riboflavin in milk is in a free form which is more easily absorbed. Riboflavin is bound to proteins in most other sources, like in vegetables or whole grains.
Improve your riboflavin absorption by maintaining a healthy balance of the other vitamins included in the B complex. Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, works with other vitamins B to release energy from carbohydrates, among other physiological tasks such as body growth and red blood cell production. Riboflavin is sensitive to exposure to light, so shield food high in riboflavin, like eggs and dairy products, from light.