Vitamin B Benefits and Functions, Explained by a Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Audrey Ross

by | Updated: October 15th, 2022 | Read time: 5 minutes

How often do you wish you had more energy? Do you schedule more than you have time (or energy!) to accomplish? Enter B vitamins! Many of us already think “vitamin B” when we’re looking to increase energy. And yes, it’s true: B vitamins are important for energy production. But this nutrient is responsible for so much more. Read on to learn about the many functions of vitamin B and how it benefits your health.

Woman Enjoying B Vitamin Benefits Pouring Capsules from Bottle into Hand

What do B vitamins do?

Vitamin B plays an important role in:

  1. Carbohydrate metabolism
  2. Immune system support
  3. Cardiovascular support
  4. Cognitive health
  5. Nervous system support
  6. Hair, skin and nail support

Additionally, B vitamins are being studied for their potential role in gut health and how they affect gut microbiota.

What are B vitamins?

B vitamins are essential water-soluble nutrients, with “essential” meaning they must be obtained through diet and “water-soluble” indicating they’re not stored in the body and must be regularly consumed. Unfortunately, nutrition shortfalls and lifestyle challenges may keep us from getting enough vitamin B from diet alone. This is where a quality vitamin B supplement can provide support to fill in any nutritional gaps.

It’s also important to understand that the family of Bs is made up of different forms, each with their own name and number.

B-1 (thiamine)

B-2 (riboflavin)

B-3 (niacin)

B-5 (pantothenic acid)

B-6 (pyridoxine)

B-7 (biotin)

B-9 (folic acid/folate)

B-12 (cobalamin)

Vitamin B benefits & functions

Each of the above B vitamins has a primary function in the body (so they are individually assigned a recommended Daily Value, or RDV) along with supportive functions working together. That’s why it’s important to take a B complex supplement containing the entire family of Bs — unless, of course, you have a specific deficiency determined by your health care provider that requires you to take certain B vitamins separately.

A well-researched example of how B vitamins work together would be maintaining normal levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is a sulfur containing amino acid found in the body. Sometimes, homocysteine levels in the blood become elevated. It has been shown that there is a correlation between elevated homocysteine and many different health challenges. Vitamins B-6, B-9 (folate) and B-12 are involved with maintaining healthy homocysteine levels.

Vitamin B-6 also has many other functions. It’s involved with over 100 enzyme reactions, including protein metabolism, cognitive health and carbohydrate metabolism.

And then there is B-12, often the go-to B vitamin for energy. But, it too has many other functions. Vitamin B-12 is important for central nervous system functioning and forming red blood cells. To note: those who follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle are often at risk of B-12 inadequacy. This is because natural sources of B-12 are found in animal products.

B-1 (thiamine) is important for energy metabolism and the growth and function of cells.

B-3 (niacin) is converted in tissues to NAD (a coenzyme form of niacin) that plays a role in over 400 different enzyme functions.

These are just a few examples of what B vitamins do in the body. As you can see, Bs are in important part of maintaining overall health, but depending on your diet, you may have certain nutrient shortfalls. This is a good reason to consider adding a B complex supplement should be considered as part of your daily supplement routine.

How to choose B vitamin supplements

Are you aware that all B vitamin supplements are NOT created equally? Have you ever opened a bottle of Bs and were greeted with that less-than-pleasant “vitamin” smell? Not a favorable experience.

There are different types of B vitamins – those known as standard USP (and these are very good) and those that are called coenzyme (or coenzymated).

Standard B-vitamins are very stable and fine to take. They’re frequently less expensive. However, they may have more of that offensive smell. Coenzymated Bs are a biologically active form that may reduce the unpleasant smell. The coenzyme form also supports the utilization of these nutrients in the body. You might call them “body ready.”

So, how do you know if your supplement contains coenzymated Bs? Look at the supplement facts panel on the bottle. Products can have 1, 2, 3, 4 or all 7 coenzyme Bs, so it’s important to take a good look at the supplement facts panel to find a product that has the most coenzyme Bs in the formula.

Here are some of the coenzyme nomenclatures to look for on supplement facts panels:

  • B-1 thiamine cocarboxylase
  •  B-2 riboflavin 5’ phosphate
  • B-3 NADH
  • B-5 pantethine
  • B-6 Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate
  • B-9 (aka Folate) methyltetrahydrofolate
  • B-12 dibencozide and/or methylcobalamin

Is there a B complex supplement that can provide all these coenzyme B’s?

The answer is yes! One great option is the Country Life Coenzyme B-Complex, a supplement containing all your basic B-vitamins, including seven coenzyme Bs. Again, coenzyme means biologically active and supporting utilization of these nutrients. This complex does not have an unpleasant smell, and it can be taken on an empty stomach. If you’ve been taking another B complex, check the supplement facts panel to see if you are getting coenzyme Bs. If not, give this amazing product a try for a month or two and see what kind of differences you feel.

Whether you’re looking to support energy production, immune system health, cardiovascular health or any other of the amazing functions supported by B vitamins, make the best choice in B vitamin supplementation with Country Life Coenzyme B-Complex.

#Power Your Greatness!

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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Dr. Audrey Ross

Dr. Ross has been with Country Life over 11 years and serves as the Senior National Educator providing product training for retailers and consumers throughout the U.S. She joined the team with an extensive 30 year background in the Natural Products Field. She possesses a PhD in Naturopathy, is a Master Herbalist and also has a degree in Marketing.

For 10 years Dr. Ross ran a successful Naturopathic consulting practice in Texas where she served as overall health coach to her patients. She has conducted national and international seminars on general nutrition, weight loss, managing chronic health challenges (including diabetes and hyperlipidemia), stress reduction, label reading and proper supplementation.

Additionally, she co-authored a book on female hormone management and is a frequent guest speaker on numerous radio shows. Her passion for education and her extensive knowledge has helped her bridge the historical divide between allopathic and naturopathic medical practices.