What Is Vitamin B Complex And How Does The Body Use It?
Vitamin B complex is comprised of several substances that are essential for proper enzymatic function in the body. The individual substances aren’t related chemically but are usually found together in foods. The B complex vitamins are comprised of:
- B1, which is thiamine
- B2, which is riboflavin
- B3, which is niacin
- B5, which is pantothenic acid
- B6, which is pyridoxine,
- B7, which is biotin
- B9, which is folic acid, and
- B12, which is cobalamin
The missing numbers indicate B vitamins that were found to be duplicates of the other B complex vitamins and so were eliminated. Although inositol, paraminobenzoic acid, and choline are frequently included in the B complex vitamin supplements, they’re not essential additives.
Lack of B vitamins can cause physiological conditions such as hyperthyroidism, elevated HDL cholesterol, pellagra, and vertigo, among others. Although there can be a danger in consuming too many of the B complex vitamins, keeping within the RDA, or recommended daily allowance, guidelines should minimize possible side effects.
A complete complex of B vitamins with extra B5 for adrenal support can help combat the deleterious effects of anxiety and stress that have become part of everyday life for many people.
Research is being conducted in Australia on the effects of a specific formulation of B vitamins, Blackmore’s vitamin B stress formula, which has additional B5 added to combat stress.
The study aims to prove the efficacy of the activated co-enzyme forms of the B vitamins on stress level reduction.
Study subjects will be placed in a double-blind group with half the group receiving a placebo and the other half receiving a vitamin B stress formula, which includes additional vitamin B5.
Numerous recent studies indicate that supplementation of B complex vitamins, vitamin B6 in particular, has improved cognition and delayed the onset of late-life depression and cognitive deterioration among the elderly.
Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is often referred to as the stress reliever vitamin. It is a major factor in the body’s metabolic processes including neurotransmitter and hormone production, and the metabolic conversion of all proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
After vitamin B5 is processed by the body, it’s converted into coenzyme A, which is the biologically active form of pantothenic acid. Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, plays a vital role in the proper function of the adrenal gland, which is the body’s first responder to stress.
An overworked adrenal gland will eventually become too taxed to function, which will have a deleterious effect on the body overall and can contribute to major health issues. Symptoms of adrenal gland fatigue include:
- Low energy in the morning, higher energy in the evening
- Excessive fatigue on a daily basis
- Cravings for salty food
- Weakened immune system
- Respiratory issues
- Poor circulation
- Weight gain
- Back and joint pain
The adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys and produce several hormones in addition to cortisol, one of which is aldosterone. The function of aldosterone in the body is to regulate the balance of water and electrolytes. It does this by excreting potassium and retaining sodium.
When the adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly, it can contribute to the onset of hypertension due to the excess water and sodium in the body. Since the adrenal glands are regulated by the amount of vitamin B5 in the body, a lack of B complex vitamins in the system can indirectly precipitate high blood pressure which is then aggravated by high-stress levels.
Those who are experiencing the symptoms of adrenal fatigue should consult their healthcare professional about including a B complex vitamin with added B5 to their daily regimen. This may help restore function to the adrenal glands, balance hormones that it regulates, and reverse the adverse symptoms of adrenal failure.
How Does Vitamin B Complex Impact Stress Levels?
When the body experiences stress, it manufactures cortisol, often called the fight or flight hormone. Cortisol provides the energy that will be needed to respond to a situation that the mind perceives as dangerous, whether the response is to run or to stand and face the situation.
If neither fight nor flight is necessary, the energy created is then stored in the body and converted to fat, which can cause weight gain. A chronic excess of cortisol levels can damage the body but when B5, or pantothenic acid, is present in sufficient quantity, it can regulate the production of cortisol and thereby protect the body against the deleterious side effects of this hormone.
Although cortisol is castigated due to its possible negative impact on the body, some cortisol is necessary for the body to function properly, and maintaining adequate amounts of B5 in the body can help regulate the amount of cortisol made.
Since B5 regulates the level of cortisol in the bloodstream, excessive stress can cause the body to use more B5 than it would normally. This depletes the level of B5 in the body, which allows excess cortisol to accumulate and the result is an insufficient level of B5 in the bloodstream, which can then precipitate high blood pressure, weight gain, and many other undesirable side effects.
Taking a bioavailable B complex supplement that has added B5 can help maintain a sufficient quantity of B complex vitamins in the body as can consuming foods that are plentiful in the B complex vitamins. Foods that are high in vitamin B5 include:
- Beef, chicken, duck, pork, turkey
- Organ meats
- Lobster and shellfish
- Cereal and other whole grains
- Egg yolks
- Dairy products and yogurt
- Split peas and lentils
Those who are vegan or vegetarian should ensure they consume adequate levels of B complex vitamins through bioavailable nutritional supplements since the body won’t absorb sufficient quantities of the B vitamins from eating a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Those who plan to supplement their diet with a B complex vitamin should consult their healthcare professional beforehand and request a blood test to determine any deficiency they may have in the B vitamins.
How Do You Supplement Vitamin B Complex For Stress?
The first step toward maintaining adequate amounts of B complex vitamins in the body is to minimize stress levels as much as possible and to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes diet and exercise, both of which play a substantial role in reducing stress levels.
A diet that’s high in processed foods and fast foods, no matter the calorie content, will yield a body that’s deficient in the B complex vitamins. It will also be deficient in other nutrients and macronutrients that are found in fresh food and are essential to maintaining a healthy body.
Food that’s prepared in a healthy manner will contribute to overall health, both physical and psychological, which is vital to maintaining adequate levels of B vitamins in the body. B complex vitamins are found in a variety of foods, including:
- Dairy products
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
- Citrus fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Red meat
- Whole grains
It’s important to consume the entire complex of eight B vitamins in order to receive the maximum benefit from them. Taking one B vitamin by itself won’t be as effective. The B vitamins are water soluble, which means that they won’t be stored in the body.
Any excess of B complex that isn’t used will be eliminated through the urine in a body that’s well hydrated. B complex vitamins aren’t produced in the body but they are considered essential for it to function so adequate levels must be obtained either from food that’s consumed or from nutritional supplements. B vitamins are also a vital component of the central nervous system, so it’s important to obtain adequate amounts from food and supplements.
The type of supplement is as important as the supplement itself. Recent research has shown that the bioactive forms of B complex vitamins are the most readily absorbed by the body and unless the bioactive form is consumed, little or no benefit will be obtained from it.
When taking a vitamin B complex for stress, it’s important to note that a massive dose doesn’t appear to be more efficacious than the recommended dose unless there is a substantial deficiency in the body. This is an additional reason to consult a healthcare professional before adding a nutritional supplement to the body.
A simple blood test can determine the level of all the B vitamins in the body and indicate the type of B complex supplement that will yield the maximum benefit.
For the most part, the body uses the number of B vitamins it needs and the excess is eliminated from the body. However, one very important factor in this process is the level of hydration in the body. Drinking ample amounts of water will facilitate the elimination of unused B complex vitamins.
Those who are chronically dehydrated may find themselves more prone to experience the adverse side effects of excess B complex vitamins. Massive doses of certain B vitamins can adversely affect health, although symptoms usually disappear after the doses are stopped.
Dosage requirements for B complex vitamins can vary depending on the age, lifestyle, any other existing health issues, and gender. Massive doses of the B vitamins, particularly in those who aren’t adequately hydrated, may cause undesirable side effects, such as:
- Sensitivity to light
- Elevated blood glucose levels
- Flushed skin
- Liver damage
- Nerve damage
- Skin Lesions
- Bright yellow urine
Some of these symptoms are specific to a particular B vitamin and will disappear when the vitamin level normalizes. Others of the B complex vitamins will simply pass through the urine and exit the body. Those who feel they need additional vitamin B complex for stress should speak with their medical professional first so that they use the correct dosage for their needs and situation.
Side effects from too much vitamin B are often the result of taking forms other than the bioactive ones. B vitamins, including B5, that aren’t bioactive have a higher concentration of the vitamin than the body needs and the result is excess waste material that must be eliminated. This places stress on the lymphatic system as well as other systems of the body.
In addition to eating a variety of fresh, healthy food that’s prepared in a healthy manner, living in a manner that encourages physical and psychological health will benefit the body and help reduce stress levels. Allowing time for meditation or prayer, time for practicing mindfulness, and time for giving to others can help eliminate the production of cortisol and help maintain adequate levels of the B complex vitamins.
Levels of the B vitamins will vary daily as will the body’s need for them, so taking a daily B complex supplement can help maintain adequate levels of B vitamins in the bloodstream.
Those who experience a significant amount of stress on a daily basis might want to take a B complex supplement that has added B5 in order to combat the deleterious effects of stress on the body and maintain adequate levels of B5 in the system. It’s prudent to consult a healthcare professional and obtain a blood test in order to ensure which levels of the B complex vitamins are lacking.