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Vitamin B Complex

by Tony Bowling on October 2, 2011

Lets talk about a very common vitamin and that is B-complex. Now, the interesting thing about B-complex is someone has decided what are the amounts and proportions of each of the different B vitamins for you and in some cases even which B vitamins to omit all together.

There are other articles on this site that have covered the problem of recommending nutritional advice when one does not know an individual’s needs – Link. That same presumption exists with the B-complex. Here is a pill with proportions aimed at everyone.

 The Number of B Vitamins

There are eleven main B vitamins and certainly this is the most usual number you will see in the better products.  So the question becomes are the amounts of each B vitamin right for you when you buy a B-complex?

B1 (thiamin),B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), B12  cobalamins) and PABA, Choline & Inositol.

If you find a B-complex product that has all those 11 ingredients you will be fairly well covered.

I know the purists might say the last 3 are not “B’s” but for our purposes we are including them especially as they are usually in the better complex products.

By the way the reason there are gaps in the numbering, like no B4, is because at one time there were other chemicals thought to be part of the complex and then later nixed.

Some B-vitimans are often described by their name rather than number. For example B3 is also known as Niacin.

Missing B Vitamins

We can only guess at the reasons for manufacturers putting differing amounts of B vitamins in each pill but they could include and even leaving some out. Some guesses are:

1. The maker is trying to save money by including less of a more expensive one of the eleven.

2. They have no idea what the correct proportion should be.

3. They are just trying to find a medium point where the majority are satisfied.

Years ago I went into a store that had its own brand of vitamins and they had two different “B-complex” products. One of these was missing two of the eleven and the other product was missing two different ones. So there wasn’t even consistency within the same manufacturer and neither vitamin bottle had any explanation as to why it arbitrarily omitted certain vitamins: “B COMPLEX” it announced proudly but falsely on the bottle. I was so concerned at the time that people were buying these products thinking that they were getting the full complex that I wrote to the head office of this popular company.

 What Should You do

I will try to address all the possible ways to work out the proportion in a future article. For now I’ll just include some general advice on how to individualize your B-complex intake:

First: You could buy all of the above vitamins separately. This would put you in total control of the proportions but it is more complicated and time consuming.

Second: A more realistic way is to buy a good B-complex (has all 11) and supplement that with other individual B-complex vitamins that you find you need.

For example: The amount of Folic Acid (B9) in one pill is restricted in the US by the FDA so its proportion to the other B-complex vitamins can be very low. There can be 250 times more B1 than Folic Acid in one pill. And I am not saying you need the same amounts of B1 and Folic Acid but you may like to have more than 0.4 of a milligram that is usually used. Again different bodies require different amounts at different times and I will be going into that in more detail in a future article.

Usage example: I would sometimes get a headache from B-complex which is not even close to a desired result. I discovered that extra Choline & Inositol stops that and the clue for that was that those two chemicals are present in the body in higher amounts so I assumed my body needed more of them. This worked for me. I am not recommending it for you — I’m just giving an example.



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