Does B-Complex Actually Do Anything?
Should you make getting enough B vitamins a priority? Absolutely. In fact, B vitamins are considered essential nutrients because your body needs them but can’t produce them on its own. These days, many “health food” stores have endless rows of B-complex bottles that promise to give you every B vitamin you could ever want. Do you need to take a B vitamin?
Why B Vitamins Are Vital for Your Body and Your Brain
There’s no question that B vitamins play a huge part in keeping you happy, healthy and energized. Scientists and nutritionists agree on that, including the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. B vitamins are involved in many vital systems:
- Nerve function
- Red blood cell creation
- Cell health
- Muscle tone
- Hormone levels
- Energy production
These nutrients are vital for optimal brain function and metabolism. When you have sufficient levels of B vitamins, the effects on how you feel can be phenomenal.
How To Tell Your B Vitamin Levels Are Low
Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) have major effects on your mood and energy levels. Here are a few warning signs that your body isn’t getting enough B vitamins:
- Memory problems
Your body needs ALL of these B vitamins. If you’re missing B12, you may wake up every day exhausted. By replenishing these energizing superstars, your entire outlook is different. You feel positive and excited, ready for anything!
What Foods Have B Vitamins
B vitamins come from a range of different foods, so your diet needs to include everything from meat and veggies to grains and dairy. Here are a few healthy foods with excellent B vitamin content:
- Salmon: This fatty fish has lots of B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, plus awesome omega-3 fatty acids.
- Leafy greens: Spinach, arugula and kale give you a huge amount of folate (B9). Broccoli and asparagus also provide between 20% and 35% of your daily intake.
- Yogurt: One of the best sources of vitamins B2 and B12, yogurt also gives your body delicious probiotics for gut health.
- Eggs: In addition to giving your body protein, eggs are rich in vitamin B7. They also supply smaller amounts of B2, B5 and B12.
- Bananas: A single banana has about 1/3 of your daily amount of B6.
- Avocados: If you love avocados, they love you back. They have lots of B1, B2, B3 and B9.
Many people get plenty of B vitamins from a healthy diet. This is even more likely if you plan and cook your own nutritious meals or take nutritional supplements that also include certain B vitamins.
When You Should Take Supplements
Once you have sufficient B vitamins, taking more doesn’t provide extra benefits. It’s similar to your car’s gas tank. Adding more gasoline to a full tank won’t make the car go any faster. However, if you know you’re missing important vitamins, then "filling up" with B supplements designed to improve energy levels or fight depression is a great idea.
Vegans and some vegetarians should always take daily supplements containing vitamin B12, which is normally only found in animal products. If certain health problems force you to cut important foods from your menu, you need to get enough B vitamins with a high-quality supplement. That way you keep your body and brain in top condition.