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17 Benefits and Side Effects of Vitamin B Complex (5 Contraindications To Be Noted)

Vitamin B Complex, also known as B vitamins or vitamin B heterogenes, is the largest and most effective of all nutrients, with a total of 8 officially recognized ingredients.

Vitamin B complex is mainly used as a coenzyme in the human body, is an essential component for energy production (mainly synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)), metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids, if the deficiency will seriously affect physiological functions and increase the incidence of various diseases.

Due to the over-processing of ingredients, it is often difficult for modern people to get enough B vitamins from their diet, so many doctors and nutrition experts recommend that in order to maintain normal physiological functions, these health foods can be supplemented moderately.

In empirical medicine, what are the benefits of vitamin B supplementation? Are there any side effects or contraindications? See text analysis for details

Main classifications of B vitamins:

The number of B vitamin group members is based on the number found, and this complex combination can only be most effective when all the members are present and other natural cofactors are present.

Includes B1 (thiamine/thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotin/niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin/biotin), B9 ( folic acid), B12 (cobalamin/cobalamin).

What are the recommended empirical benefits of B vitamins?

1. Vitamin B group is beneficial for diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can be divided into four types, which are divided into peripheral neuropathy, proximal neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy and focal neuropathy according to the different nerves affected.

Peripheral neuropathy affects the longest nerve fibers first, so symptoms appear in the feet and legs, including: decreased ability to numb or feel pain, muscle weakness, difficulty walking, foot ulcers.

More than 80% of non-traumatic amputations in patients are caused by foot ulcers, and early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the prevention of amputations, foot ulcers and other injuries.

A systematic review (14 randomized controlled trials, 997 patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy) noted that B vitamin supplementation improved symptoms and signs. Note 1

*Conclusion: For diabetic peripheral neuropathy, B vitamins may be a positive help

2. Vitamin B group is beneficial for mouth ulcers

Mouth ulcers are usually painful lesions associated with various conditions that develop inside the mouth. It can be classified as acute or chronic according to its presentation and progression.

Acute mouth sores are associated with conditions such as trauma, recurrent stomatitis, Behset’s disease, bacterial and viral infections, allergic reactions, or adverse drug reactions.

Chronic canker sores are associated with lichen planus, pemphigus vulgaris, mucosal pemphigoid, lupus erythematosus, mycosis, and some bacterial and parasitic diseases.

A meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials with 1,534 patients with a clinical diagnosis of oral ulcers noted that the vitamin B treatment group had higher efficacy rates and lower recurrence rates compared with controls. Note 1

In addition, the healing time and treatment time of ulcers in the treatment group were shorter than those in the control group.

*As mentioned in this study, the sample excluded patients with mouth ulcers caused by other clinical treatments or diseases, patients with hematopoietic/coagulation dysfunction, patients with chronic diseases/underlying diseases, and patients who were unable to communicate verbally.

*Conclusion: B vitamins may be of positive help in the treatment of mouth ulcers, but more studies are needed to verify that they may be confounding factors and publication bias

3. Vitamin B group reduces the incidence of stroke

Although considerable progress has been made in the management of stroke patients, it remains one of the leading causes of death and morbidity worldwide.

It can be divided into two main categories: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke, which are caused by obstruction of blood supply or rupture of blood vessels, respectively.

About 85% to 90% of strokes are ischemic and can be classified as cardioembolism, atherosclerosis, lacunar disease, other specific causes (vasculitis, specific genetic disorders, etc.) and unknown causes.

A meta-analysis (17 randomized controlled trials with 86,393 participants) pointed out that B vitamin supplementation can reduce the risk of stroke, while different B vitamin formulations have different effects on stroke prevention. Note 1

According to the treatment effect from high to low, it is folic acid + vitamin B6> folic acid> folic acid + vitamin B6 + vitamin B12 > vitamin B6 + vitamin B12 > niacin> vitamin B6 >placebo> folic acid + vitamin B12.

*Conclusion: Vitamin B supplementation can help reduce the risk of stroke, and folic acid and vitamin B6 are the most effective

4. Vitamin B group reduces the incidence of cancer

Cancer can be caused by the abnormal proliferation of any kind of cell in the body, so there are more than a hundred different types of cancer, although there are many types, but only a small number of them have a high incidence.

The four most common cancers, which account for more than half of all cancer cases, such as breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers. Lung cancer is by far the deadliest and causes nearly 30% of cancer deaths.

A meta-analysis (18 randomized controlled trials with 74,498 participants) found that vitamin B supplementation had no effect on overall cancer incidence, cancer mortality, and overall mortality. Note 2

In addition, the same study also found that for certain types of cancer, B group supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of melanoma of the skin.

*Conclusion: Vitamin B supplementation has no significant effect on reducing overall cancer events and cancer mortality, but only helps reduce the risk of melanoma

5. B vitamins relieve stress

Stress is the most common destructive force in today’s society, the most common of which is stress at work. Statistics have found that high levels of work stress can lead to a 50% increase in health-related expenditure, as well as many behavioural problems (such as heavy drinking or constant smoking).

The World Health Organization has also reported that in the United States alone, work-related stress costs $3 billion in economic losses (lost productivity, sabotage, or resignation), equivalent to 2.6% of annual GDP.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (12 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials) suggested that supplementation with B vitamins relieved stress, but did not significantly help with depressive symptoms or anxiety. Note 3

In addition, B vitamin supplementation is especially beneficial for people with poor nutritional or emotional status.

*Conclusion: B vitamin supplementation may be beneficial in stress relief, but more research is needed due to the heterogeneity of the studies included

6. Vitamin B group is beneficial to osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass, deterioration of bone tissue, and destruction of bone microstructures, which can lead to reduced bone strength and an increased risk of fractures.

Fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability, and death, especially hip fractures with a 1% to 15% increase in mortality within 20 year, and approximately 20% to 50% of patients require long-term care, leading to reduced quality of life, social isolation, depression, and loss of self-esteem.

It is estimated that 40% of postmenopausal women and 30% of men experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime.

A meta-analysis (8 randomized controlled trials, 26,707 participants) noted that daily B vitamin supplementation (folic acid, B6, and B12 alone or in combination) did not reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures in subjects with cardiovascular disease and relatively normal plasma homocysteine. Note 4

In addition, no positive effect of B vitamin supplementation on bone turnover markers was observed.

*Conclusion: To date, there is limited evidence that vitamin B supplementation is not effective in preventing fractures and improving bone turnover, and more studies are needed to confirm the effect in areas with high homocysteine and unreinforced B groups

7. Vitamin B is beneficial for lower back pain

Low back pain or low back pain is back pain that runs from the lowest ribs all the way to the hip creases, whether or not it radiates to the legs.

About 80% to 90% of cases of low back pain are nonspecific, meaning that there is no clear pathoanatomical connection, and another 15% have specific clinically relevant causes, of which 4% are herniated discs, 3% are spinal stenosis, 2% are spondylolisthesis, 1% to 4% are found to have vertebral fractures, 0.7% have tumors (primary or metastasized), 0.2% have ankylosing spondylitis, and 0.01% have discitis.

If the low back pain is the first time in a person’s life, or after a painless interval of at least six months, and lasts no more than six weeks, it is called acute low back pain.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (5 randomized controlled trials of 1,207 patients with acute low back pain) suggested that diclofenac + TPC (vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B12) combination therapy significantly reduced treatment time (approximately 50%) compared with the drug diclofenac alone. Note 5

*Conclusion: Diclofenac + TPC may have an analgesic advantage over diclofenac alone for acute lower back pain

8. Vitamin B group is beneficial for cognitive function

The aging process leads to a variety of age-related diseases, the most common of which is dementia, which manifests as cognitive decline, including memory loss and difficulty reasoning.

Cognitive impairment such as low educational attainment, sedentary lifestyle, midlife obesity, smoking, hypertension, diabetes and depression can be intervened by improving associated risk factors.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (31 randomized placebo-controlled trials involving 17,029 older adults) noted that elevated homocysteine was associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, but that the use of B vitamins to reduce homocysteine did not confer a clear benefit on cognitive status. Note 6

*Conclusion: Due to differences in supplement type, sample population, study quality, and duration of treatment, the available evidence is insufficient to support the use of B vitamins to improve cognitive function, and more precisely designed studies are needed

9. Vitamin B group is beneficial for cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease has the highest morbidity and mortality rate of all diseases, with an estimated 1700 million deaths worldwide each year (about 30% of the total).

Affected by obesity and population aging, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is continuing to rise, with the prevalence rate reaching 40% of the population aged 59 to 40, and even more than 60% of the incidence over 70 years old.

A meta-analysis (19 randomized controlled trials, 47,921 participants) noted that B vitamin supplementation reduced blood homocysteine levels and reduced stroke risk, but there was no significant benefit or harm to the risk of cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular death, or all-cause mortality. Note 7

*Conclusion: B vitamin supplementation is only effective in protecting stroke energy and does not significantly help reduce the risk of other cardiovascular events

10. Vitamin B group is beneficial for glaucoma

Glaucoma is a type of optic neuropathy characterized by progressive degeneration of the optic nerve, resulting in visual impairment.

Among them, primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type in Europe and the United States. In contrast, angle-closure glaucoma is very common in China and other Asian countries.

There is good evidence that black race, older age, elevated intraocular pressure, family history of primary open-angle glaucoma, myopia, and low diastolic perfusion pressure are risk factors for primary open-angle glaucoma.

A meta-analysis (37 studies) suggested that primary open-angle glaucoma was associated with elevated total homocysteine levels, not folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 levels, or MTHFR C677T genotype. Note 8

*Conclusion: The occurrence of primary open-angle glaucoma is not significantly related to the lack of vitamin B group, and more large-scale trials are still needed to further verify

11. Vitamin B group is beneficial for psoriasis

Psoriasis, also known as psoriasis or psoriasis, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease with strong genetic predisposition and autoimmune pathogenic characteristics (prevalence is about 2%, also varies by region). Prevalence is low in Asian and African populations, with up to 11% in Caucasian and Scandinavian populations.

About 90% of cases of psoriasis are chronic plaque-type psoriasis, and the typical clinical presentation is well-defined, erythematous, pruritic plaques covered with silvery-white scales.

A meta-analysis (19 randomized controlled trials, 47,921 participants) noted that compared with the control group, serum homocysteine levels were significantly higher and serum folate levels were significantly lower (no significant difference in vitamin B12 levels). Note 9

*Conclusion: Hyperhomocysteinemia and decreased serum folate levels are common in patients with psoriasis, but more research is needed to confirm whether B vitamin supplementation is helpful

12. Vitamin B complex reduces airborne particulate (PM2.5) damage

Ambient particulate matter (PM) is defined as matter suspended in the air in the form of tiny solid particles or droplets derived from human and natural activities. It is a heterogeneous mixture of different sizes and chemical compositions derived from vehicle emissions, road dust, industrial exhaust, forest fires, windblown sand, volcanic eruptions, and ocean droplets.

A recent global burden of disease study showed that PM2.5 exposure causes 3.2 million deaths annually and is strongly associated with cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, ischaemic stroke, vascular dysfunction, hypertension and atherosclerosis.

A single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial (8 weeks in 10 healthy adults who did not smoke and did not take any B vitamins or drugs) noted that exposure to suspended particulate PM2.5 had adverse effects on cardiac autonomic function and the immune system (increased resting heart rate, heart rate variability, total number of white blood cells, lymphocyte count), which could be counteracted by B vitamin supplementation. Note 10

*Conclusion: Vitamin B supplementation can help reduce the adverse effects of airborne particulates (PM2.5) on heart function and immune cells, but limited by the small sample size, more studies are needed to confirm it

13. Vitamin B group beneficial depression

The main symptoms of depression are intense sadness, anxiety, loss of appetite and loss of interest in anything, which can lead to incapacity if not treated in real time.

It is estimated that nearly 7% of patients with these mental illnesses are untreated in the United States and the United Kingdom alone, and are especially serious in Asia because of stigma and cultural differences.

Early studies have shown that folic acid and vitamin B6 deficiency will increase homocysteine in the blood, while too high homocysteine will greatly increase the incidence of depression (compared to the lowest).

A clinical study found that folic acid (5-MTHF form) increased the improvement rate from 16% to 40% compared with depression alone, and significantly reduced the required improvement period from 150 days to 85 days. Note 11

More importantly, the withdrawal rate in the drug alone group was 34% (due to adverse effects), which was twice as high as in the combined folic acid group (2.17%).

*Conclusion: Folic acid in B vitamins may be helpful for depression, but more large trials are needed

14. Vitamin B group improves obesity and weight loss

In this era of abundant food and clothing, eating too much and moving too little is almost the lifestyle of most people, so getting fat seems inevitable, but the problems caused by obesity have not only harmed their own health, but even affected the next generation.

According to the survey, obesity rates in women of reproductive age are between 40% and 60%, and obesity increases the risk of various infertility and pregnancy complications, including gestational hypertension, diabetes, bleeding, and increases the risk of neonatal abnormalities (fetal macrosomia, neural tube defects, etc.).

A nutritional epidemiological survey (of 1,131 children aged 8 to 15) found that blood levels of vitamin B12 and folate were higher, and they generally had lower Body Mass Index and total body fat mass. Note 12

When considering diet, higher intake of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folic acid was also significantly associated with a lower body mass index.

The authors believe that the mechanism behind it is related to the participation of B vitamins in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, maintaining the normal functioning of mitochondria, and improving lipid and lipoprotein metabolism.

*Conclusion: Higher intake of B nutrients from food is associated with better posture maintenance, but the effectiveness of additional supplementation needs to be further verified

15. Vitamin B group beneficial schizophrenia, formerly known as schizophrenia

Schizophrenia (formerly schizophrenia) is a chronic and complex severe psychosis (caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters) with common symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, and impaired cognitive abilities.

People with the disease usually only have a single personality, not a split personality, which is a common misunderstanding of this disease.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (18 randomized controlled studies with 832 participants) found that additional B vitamin supplements (containing B6, B12, and inositol) helped reduce schizophrenia symptoms compared with drug treatment alone, and the effect was more pronounced with early disease use. Note 13

In addition, there are some indications that nutritional supplementation is beneficial in people with associated genetic variants or nutritional deficiencies.

*Conclusion: B vitamin supplementation may be helpful in improving schizophrenia, but more large trials are needed

16. B vitamins are beneficial for Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease of old age caused by brain degeneration that prevents it from producing enough dopamine.

Dopamine is the chemical responsible for transmitting commands to the limbs, and when not enough, it can cause symptoms such as muscle stiffness, slow movements, tremors, and posture instability.

A meta-analysis of the literature showed that consuming more vitamin B6 from the natural diet helped reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 35%, but vitamin B12 and folic acid in group B did not show a correlation. Note 14

The mechanism behind it is related to the antioxidant function of vitamin B6 and the reduction of oxidative stress.

17. Vitamin B group reduces DDT pesticide damage

The decline in fertility rate is an urgent problem that advanced countries must face at present, and behind this phenomenon, in addition to the decline in marriage rate, infertility is also an important reason behind it.

One of the causes of infertility is environmental pollution. Studies point out that DDT is a well-known pesticide and insecticide for nearly half a century, and later found to be difficult to decompose and ecological damage, so DDT has been banned in most parts of the world (but some countries are still used to control malaria).

Although these pesticides have been banned for a long time, the presence of DDT can still be detected in soil or water and then enter the body through the food chain.

High levels of DDT in the blood can lower estrogen and progesterone levels, two hormones that play a key role in conception and maintaining pregnancy.

A prospective cohort study pointed out that adequate intake of vitamin B12 and folic acid before pregnancy can reduce adverse events caused by DDT pesticides (such as early pregnancy failure (miscarriage)) and increase clinical pregnancy rates. Note 15

Are there any side effects of taking B vitamins?

Group B vitamins are water-soluble components and have few serious side effects at normal doses.

Taking large doses or long-term overdose may cause dizziness, frequent urination, black stools, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, skin flushing, blurred vision, frequent urination, itching, liver damage, hyperglycemia, nerve damage, light sensitivity, skin pain and other symptoms.

In a few more severe cases, the user may experience severe allergic reactions, including itching, rash, local swelling, difficulty breathing, etc., please stop using it immediately, if the symptoms persist, please seek medical attention immediately.

Safety precautions

1. Avoid taking too high a dose of B vitamins (do not exceed the recommended label on the bottle), and pay attention to the value of the ingredients when purchasing, if you need to take more than the upper limit value (UL) due to special needs, please use it under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner

For example, a double-blind controlled study (36 months, 238 patients with diabetic nephropathy) found that taking high doses of group B (containing folic acid 2500 mcg, vitamin B6-25 mg, vitamin B12-1 mg) showed reduced renal function (as measured by glomerular filtration rate GFR) and may increase the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke. Note 16

2. Since vitamin B2 (riboflavin) has a special structure of fluorescent yellow, it is normal to urinate after oral administration and does not need to be overly worried

3. If the liver and kidney function is poor, please confirm with the doctor before use

4. Avoid taking with medication (may cause interaction and affect the efficacy of the drug)

5. Some dosage forms or liquid products may contain the artificial sweetener: aspartame, so consult a physician before use for phenylketonuria or any other condition that requires restriction of aspartame

When is Group B taken/when is the best time to eat?

B vitamins are a special class of water-soluble vitamins that can replenish energy and relieve stress, so they are generally taken after getting up and may affect sleep if used close to bedtime.

Water-soluble vitamins are best absorbed on an empty stomach, so the best time to use them is 30 minutes before meals, or 2 hours after meals.

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