August 27, 2021
Writen by Dr. Will Haas, MD, MBA
B vitamins are a group of micronutrients that play many vital functions in your body. From boosting your energy levels and improving your metabolism to promoting good digestion, they are an indispensable group of nutrients.
Nutritional supplements that contain all eight B vitamins are commonly referred to as B-complex vitamins and are available in multiple forms, including oral and intravenously (IV) preparations.
Most people get the recommended amount of these vitamins through their diet. However, factors like age, genetics, dietary choices, pregnancy, certain medical conditions, and medication can increase your body’s demand for B vitamins.
In these circumstances and a few others, supplementation may be necessary for you to look and feel your best.
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll discover:
- What is Vitamin B Complex?
- The Benefits of B Complex Vitamins
- How Much Vitamin B Complex Do You Need?
- How Can You Tell If You’re Deficient?
- When to Get B Vitamins via IV
What is Vitamin B Complex?
Vitamin B complex refers to a group of eight essential water-soluble B vitamins which help the body make energy from food and keep it in good health.
Occasionally, you’ll see them referred to by their scientific names, so it’s good to know them as well:
- Thiamine = Vitamin B1
- Riboflavin = Vitamin B2
- Niacin = Vitamin B3
- Pantothenic acid = Vitamin B5
- Pyridoxine = Vitamin B6
- Biotin= Vitamin B7
- Folic acid = Vitamin B9
- Cobalamin = Vitamin B12
Each of these essential vitamins contributes to your overall health and wellness as you’ll discover in more detail below. Of course, we’ll also let you know how to tell if you’re deficient and whether you might benefit from IV supplementation.
Benefits of B Complex Vitamins
B vitamins help support many functions in the body, including proper nerve function, growth of red cells, normal digestion, and hormone production.
When combined with other nutrients like magnesium and vitamin C, vitamin B complex reduces fatigue and tiredness, aids metabolism, and supports the proper physiological and nervous system functioning.
Thiamine is vital for the function and development of cells, aids in muscle contraction, and helps the body metabolize protein and fats (1).
Riboflavin supports the function of coenzymes which are involved in the breakdown of medications and fats. It aids energy and hormone production, and body growth. Vitamin B2 also helps maintain the skin, muscles, nerves, eyes, and liver health and is essential for fetal development (2).
Niacin (sometimes referred to as niacinamide) is needed to turn food into energy and synthesize enzymes. It aids the healthy functioning of the digestive and nervous systems, supports DNA repair, and lowers cholesterol in the blood (3).
Pantothenic acid is an essential nutrient that supports the nervous system and brain function and aids cholesterol and hormone production. Vitamin B5 is also needed for normal metabolism, aids wound healing, and supports the metabolism of toxins and drugs. Deficiency may cause a wide range of symptoms, including vomiting, irritability, depression, insomnia, and fatigue (4).
Pyridoxine, another essential B vitamin, is involved in synthesizing neurotransmitters and the metabolism of important amino acids. It helps the body produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen from the lungs to all organs in the body. Additionally, vitamin B6 supports proper cell division, carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism and healthy immune function. It helps reduce symptoms of depression, promotes brain and eye health, and reduces the risk for heart disease (5).
Biotin is also a B complex vitamin that supports fat and carbohydrate metabolism, promotes brain health, and is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It plays a role in many cellular reactions, particularly in creating energy for the whole body. In addition, biotin supports liver and brain function, regulates blood glucose levels, and contributes to nervous system health (6).
Folate, known as folic acid in supplement form, plays a crucial role in cell division and growth, the formation of white and red blood cells, and the metabolism of amino acids. It aids the synthesis and repair of DNA, supports the nervous system and brain functions, and speeds the healing of injuries and wounds. Vitamin B9 is crucial in early pregnancy and periods of rapid growth such as adolescence and childhood. Research suggests that it might help treat depression, heart disease, and dementia (7).
Finally, cobalamin is needed for DNA synthesis, blood cell formation, and healthy bones. It helps prevent anemia and birth defects, reduces the risk for osteoporosis and eye diseases, and improves symptoms of depression (8).
How Much Vitamin B Complex Do You Need?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides the following recommended daily intakes (RDI) for each of the eight B vitamins.
|Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) for B Vitamins|
|B1 (Thiamin)||1.2 mg||1.1 mg|
|B2 (Riboflavin)||1.3 mg||1.1 mg|
|B3 (Niacin)||16 mg||14 mg|
|B5 (Pantothenic acid)||5 mg||5 mg|
|B6 (Pyridoxine)||1.3 mg||1.3 mg|
|B7 (Biotin)||30 mcg||30 mcg|
|B9 (Folate)||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|B12 (Cobalamin)||2.4 mcg||2.4 mcg|
Although most people who eat a varied diet get enough B vitamins from food, some people are at an increased risk of deficiency. You might be deficient if you are over the age of 50, take antacids or certain diabetes medications, or you have celiac or Crohn’s disease (9-11), you might be deficient.
If you’ve undergone weight loss surgery, drink alcohol regularly, or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you may also be more prone to deficiencies. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need more B6, B12, and folate (12-14).
It’s also important to point out that those who regularly test the physical limits of their bodies via exercise and athletics may require more than the standard RDIs listed above.
How Can You Tell If You’re Deficient?
As we just mentioned, most people can get the recommended amount of B vitamins through diet since they are found in a wide variety of foods. However, it’s still possible to be deficient despite eating healthy.
The following symptoms might indicate you’re not getting enough B vitamins:
- Abdominal Cramps
- Skin Rashes
- Cracks around the Mouth
- Swollen Tongue
- Irritability Or Depression
- Numbness or Tingling in Feet and Hands
If left untreated, deficiencies could increase your risk of developing:
- Anxiety / Depression
- Birth Defects
- Digestive Issues
- Skin Conditions
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Migraine Headaches
Make sure to consult your doctor if you think you may be deficient in B vitamins. They can help determine what’s causing your symptoms and, if needed, run the necessary tests as well as recommend ways to increase your B vitamin intake.
Important Info to Know Before Getting IV Vitamin B Complex
High-dose vitamin B supplementation may cause minor side effects like diarrhea, headaches, abdominal cramps, and increased urination. It can also make your urine bright yellow. With that said, high-dose vitamin B is generally safe when administered by an experienced medical professional in a clinical setting.
Before commencing an infusion, your physician should explain the entire process, answer all of your questions, and provide information regarding the risk of side effects and other matters that might make you nervous or anxious.
Always follow your physician’s instructions. Some IV infusions require a particular diet or that you are well hydrated before your IV drip. Your physician will perform an exam, review your medical history, and recommend a treatment plan that improves your overall wellness, helps increase your energy, and reduces the symptoms of your condition.
Also, make a list of all over-the-counter and prescription medications that you are taking. This is important to avoid any adverse reactions from mixing treatments.
How quickly does a B-complex drip work?
IV therapy is the fastest way to deliver essential amino acids, vitamins, and fluids to the body, strengthen your immune system, and boost your energy levels. The intravenous infusion is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, and its effects are often felt almost immediately.
How often should you get B vitamins via iv therapy?
If you seek a boost to vitality and energy, a few vitamin B infusions followed by a bimonthly or once-a-month therapy are usually appropriate. The frequency of getting IV infusions depends on your individual requirements and the conditions that you have. Pre-diagnostic testing can help determine the frequency of therapy that will work best for you.
How long does a vitamin B treatment last?
Vitamin B IV therapy typically lasts 45 minutes to an hour which makes it a quick and effective way to improve your overall wellness and immune health.
There is plenty you can do while you receive IV therapy. You can watch a movie or listen to music, read a magazine or book, play a handheld game, or bring a friend or family member to pass the time.
Without question, B vitamins are an important group of nutrients for your health and overall vitality. They have a wide variety of functions, and deficiencies can manifest in subtle and discrete ways.
If you’re thinking about getting an infusion of B vitamins, make sure to work with an Integrative Medicine specialist and check your overall nutrient status to determine best how much and how often you might need this essential vitamin complex.
To Life Enhanced,
Dr. Will Haas, MD, MBA
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2 - Thakur K, Tomar S, Singh A, et al. Riboflavin and health: A review of recent human research. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 22;57(17):3650-3660.
3 - Meyer-Ficca, M., & Kirkland, J. B. (2016). Niacin. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 7(3), 556–558.
4 - National Center for Biotechnology Information. "PubChem Compound Summary for CID 6613, Pantothenic acid" PubChem, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Pantothenic-acid. Accessed 26 August, 2021.
5 - National Center for Biotechnology Information. "PubChem Compound Summary for CID 1054, Pyridoxine" PubChem, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Pyridoxine. Accessed 26 August, 2021.
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14 - Viswanathan, M., Treiman, K. A., Kish-Doto, J., Middleton, J. C., Coker-Schwimmer, E. J., & Nicholson, W. K. (2017). Folic Acid Supplementation for the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects: An Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA, 317(2), 190–203.