"The B vitamins are eight water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Historically, the B vitamins were once thought to be a single vitamin, referred to as vitamin B (much as people refer to vitamin C or vitamin D). Later research showed that they are chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods. Supplements containing all eight are generally referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific name of each vitamin (e.g. B1, B2, B3 etc.)."
Our readers offer information and opinions on Earth Clinic, not as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.
B-Complex Side Effects
08/12/2012: Mardi from Toronto, Ontario, Canada: "I think I read that it was Ted that said: It also takes weeks for the pH to be near normal after taking b complex and baking soda for a week or two. A long term taking of this can also resulted in higher urinary sugar and damaged pancreas, besides damaging the brain.
This freaks me out! I take B complex, 100 mg every day and have done so for decades! I feel that my nerves required it. I love it. Did I read right????"Replies
08/13/2012: Mmsg from Somewhere, Europe replies: "Mardi, if it's done you good for so long, then that's your best sign that it's good for YOU. If your blood sugar would've gone up, you would have known it by now. And it's an easy thing to check."
[SIDE EFFECTS] 02/25/2010: Beverly from Phyllis, Kentucky: "B-complex and moodiness
I have been taking a high potency b-complex 1 time a day and I have noticed I have been really irritable afterwards. Any thoughts?"Replies
[SIDE EFFECTS] 09/18/2012: Gean from Salina, Ks replies: "Here is my experience with B-complex. I kept reading that it's good to take, and that B vitamins are water solluble so the body just gets rid of the excess, etc. , so I tried it. I took the B-50 complex. Here is what happened:
The first thing I noticed after only a couple of days, was that my hair took on a dull look - lost all its shine. Then I became very, very depressed. I also started bruising a lot easier. I was also hungry all the time, terrible food cravings. The depression worsened over a period of a week or two, until I finally said to myself, "What did I add recently?" I remembered the B-complex, and looked up dangers of B supplements. Sure enough, I read that the body can't process large amounts of certain B vitamins without having to pull all kinds of micronutrients out of your body to do it, so you end up deficient. I stopped the B-complex, and within a few days my hair is shiny and beautiful, and I am no longer depressed. Food cravings are gone.
I had given it to my 20 yr. old daughter as well, and she reported after a week or so that her arms got suddenly weak and she almost dropped her violin during orchestra practice. Then I read that excessive B vitamins will attach to your nerves and cause limb weakness. She also started bruising a lot. Needless to say she's off it too now.
Eating whole foods is the best medicine!"
10/24/2012: Lupe from Salinas, Ca replies: "hi I was wondering if your daughter git better? I took stress vitamin b complex for less than a week and I stopped becauese my hamstrings feelt tingly and I instantly knew it had to be the vitamins. My entire body feels week especialy my arms and jonts. did your daughter get nerve damage and if sh got better how did she do that and how long did it take ? thank you I would appreciate info."
10/12/2011: Connie from Slc, Ut: "Hi D,
As you probably know, the whole complex of B vitamins works best when taken together. But the proportions and amounts may vary with an individual's distinct needs. B6, Folate, and B12 have a special relationship as each supports the uptake and action of the other. Some people may need to vary the amounts of individual B's to achieve a balance.
I've been looking for supplements that are supportive of B12 uptake, but I haven't found much information that is specific to this. However; there is evidence that vitamin E protects B12 from oxidation, and helps make it active in the body. Aloe Vera has been found to increase the availability of B12. Improving digestion, of course, would be the most beneficial for uptake, because B12 is the most difficult of nutrients to absorb. It requires a nearly perfect set of salivary enzymes, pancreatic enzymes, stomach acid, and a well functioning set of intestines to be able to do its good business. ( It's something of a diva that needs to be coddled. )
There are many subtances that interfere with its absorption, and these include just about every medication, certain heavy metals, nitrous oxide (an anesthetic), air pollution, etc. Pathogens and parasites compete with the body for it. This is true for all nutrients, but B12 is particularly vulnerable. If supplemented in dosages of 5000 mcg. or higher, it can antagonize potassium. If someone supplements with high dosages of potassium, it may also antagonize B12.
Some foods, such as algaes and seaweeds contain B12 analogues that do not perform the same functions as the active B12. If taken in too high a quantity, these analogues will fill too many receptors and block the uptake of active B12. But these foods are extremely nutritious and healing, so I recommend that they be taken judiciously. This is such a complex subject.... I wish it could be more simple for us."Replies
10/13/2011: Timh from Louisville, Usa replies: "I have a long history of all the digestive problems above listed, but I have magically seemed to maintain proper B-12 levels as recorded in blood test. I supplement w/ multi b vit. As well as extra folic acid and 12. I am now using the 12 derivative or preconverted form ---methycobalamin. I also take liquid liver extract which contains nature's highest levels of iron and b-12. Eat chicken or calf liver once weekly. Liver is one of nature's most nutrition dense foods ever."
10/11/2011: D from Sf, Ca: "Are there specific supplements or vitamins that should be included, or excluded, when taking B-12 to achieve the most benefits? Thank you."
[YEA] 09/14/2012: Americantwin from Indianapolis, In: "Choline (often taken w/Inositol) has a noticeable effect on brain function, usually in a short time after starting it. Choline is a B vitamin but is not included in B complex supplements in large enough proportions, ( 1,000 mg ) to help mental ability. Choline is great for the liver! You will notice toxic-overload symptoms (nausea, flu-like symptoms) disappearing in a matter of weeks, also. My daughter and I have taken both for years without any noticeable adverse reactions. A chemist at Now Foods told me that Choline supplements are not made from soy (see posted reaction to soy). However, lecithin (from soy) is a source of Cholin, (sometimes spelled without the "e") as are dandelions and egg yolks. Cholin is supposed to be good for the kidneys and I'm puzzled why its properties aren't more praised among the health-minded groups. It's a supplement I would not be without. However, here are some supposed symptoms of excess: (none of which I have personally experienced)
1.) Excess increases muscle tone, causing temporary stiffness or tension
2) Excess is said to cause a fishy smell to skin
3) Choline is said to lower blood pressure
Be careful. Certain distributers try to trick you by labeling the bottle:
when in fact each capsule is only 250 mg. You'll need 1000 mg daily to really tell a difference in your mental capacity, liver function, etc.
Feedback from others appreciated.
12/09/2011: Marko from Ljubljana, Slovenia: "Greetings,
I eat 1-2 egg whites a day for few months. Am I at risk of developing biotin deficiency? Yours sincerely"
12/09/2011: Connie from Slc, Ut: "Hi Just Chillin ; It is difficult to balance the proportions of the B vitamins. I've also had this problem. It has helped me the most to increase B-12. Although they work in concert with each other, it seems that some of us do have to develop our own type of composition. I take a low dose B complex daily, such as a B 25, or less. And I take a sublingual lozenge of B-12, (methylcobalamin type), 5000 mcg. Daily. (sometimes I take more, to be honest).
Burning feet may be a symptom of B12 deficiency. It is the most difficult of the B's to absorb, so that could be why the symptoms persist even when one takes it in an oral form. Taking it sublingually may be easier to absorb."Replies
01/03/2012: Just Chillin from Vannes, France replies: "Hi Connie, Thank you so much for your reply. I haven't had much luck with replies before, so this is great. I had the burning feet and tingling feet/legs first, then was told I had a b1 deficiency, so had been taking that since last Feb 2011. Then I tried to reduce it and the symptoms got worse again, so re took the same amount, and was told to take b5, then tried to reduce the b1 again, and same problem.
I have been seeing someone who does allergy testing through muscles. In September when I saw her I tested strong for all of the b.s then in December I was weak again in B1, even though I had taken it the night before, and then also b6 and a slight b12. I am so confused with all this, and just want to know that I am taking the right amounts of everything. I had a blood test recently, and everything came back normal, blood sugar fine, and cholesterol fine, liver fine and kidneys etc. except for the haemotology where it was slighly low on the hemocrit, and the euphyrocytes. I queried this with the doctor, who said not to worry as my haemoglobin was ok at 12.5%. I had mentioned the vitamin deficiency also, and the burning feet, and thought that the blood would be tested for vitamins too, but it wasn't, which is typical of doctors isnt it? I am normally quite a positive person, but I am aware that the b deficiencies can cause permanent neurological problems, and don't want to go down this road. Maybe I could just insist on a vitamin and mineral test. Any more info would be wonderful, thank you so much."
01/14/2012: Just Chillin from Vannes, France replies: "Hi Connie, Did mail you back but maybe you didn't see it. Just to let you know that I had a B12 & folate blood test via the doctor, and the B12 came back well above the upper limit now, so just don't know what to take. The B complex that I have been taking are all around the 50mg ish, so perhaps I should still take that, then a little bit of the1, 5, 6 and 12 as well.
I had been having an irregular heart beat at night, horrible, but just cutting the vitamins down for a day or so, and I have not had it, so perhaps I have been taking too much
I mentioned to my doctor that I had been told that I may have peripheral neuropathy, and was there any way, they could check to see if I had any nerve damage, and he just didnt buy into it at all, he said just do some more walking, I was so shocked that I couldn't think of anything else to say. I know that lots of people get the burning feet and legs for no reason, and if that is the case, then fine I have to put up with it, but still a good idea to look into it.
It's nice know of someone who has had similar problems, makes you feel better, any further help would be good,
Thanks a lot"
01/25/2012: Maria from Gippsland, Vic, Australia replies: "Hi Just Chillin from Vannes, Your Dr should have looked at your feet and used a monofilament to test for lose of any sensation or at the very least used either a cotton wool ball or their own finger. The following is a site with pictures of these: http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/diabetes/foot/Fexam1.html
If you do a search for alpha lipoic acid you will find lots of recommendations for it. http://www.diabeteslibrary.org/PrintArticle.aspx?ArticleID=809
When ever you take large doses of any b vitamin it is best to also take a b complex as well. If your not a vegetarian then you could eat liver or take a liver extract as Bill (from the Philippines) has recommended elsewhere on EC. If you are having trouble building up your b's and are taking them in high doses then make sure your supplements don't contain fillers like magnesium sterate, tricalcium phosphates and others as it can lower the absorption. As explained by Ted (who also recomends liver here), you will have to scroll down the page to the general comments: http://earthclinic.com/supplements.html"
12/07/2011: Just Chillin from Vannes, France: "Dear Ted,
I need help with taking B vitamins. I was told I had a b1 deficiency, and have been taking thiamin pyrophosphate since february this year. I was suffering from burning feet. It seemed to improve, then began to get worse again. I was then advised to take b5 too, and have been taking that for a few months. I started reducing the b1, as was taking a mix ofbuts etc, with b's in it.
Then just recently I started having burning and prickly in the legs, which is uncomfortable. I went back to my advisor who discovered it was low in the b1 again, even though I had taken it the night before. I also showed low in b6 and b12. She has suggested that I start taking b6 and b12. I said would a b complex be better, but she said I tested ok for b complex. Any ideas on what has happened? Could taking the b1 and b5 on its own have affected the b6 anf b12. I am so confused and just want to get this right, any help please, would be wonderful. Thank you so much"