Meticulous formulation using pure ingredients to deliver benefits while minimizing sensitivities. Free from wheat, gluten, egg, peanuts, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated fat, artificial sweeteners and colors, and other inactive ingredients. Ideal for those who are sensitive to B12.
On the pricier side. A small percentage of buyers had adverse reactions, but fewer than with other brands.
B-complex with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, and biotin. Formulation is plant-based for vegans, and includes a "raw" (unprocessed) probiotic and enzyme blend for digestive support. Vegetable blend for additional nutritional support. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO with no binders or fillers.
A small percentage of consumers had adverse reactions to the supplement. There were a few complaints of broken bottles or faulty packaging. Pricier than many other brands.
High-potency complex providing eight essential B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. Does not contain any harmful chemicals, stearates, artificial ingredients, fillers, or preservatives. The formulation is also GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and free of animal products. Relatively low cost compared to other brands.
More than 10% of people who bought this developed a rash, burning sensation, nausea, or some other negative reaction.
Comes from a longstanding (45 yrs.) and reputable vitamin and supplement manufacturer. No synthetic dyes, artificial flavors, preservatives, yeast, gluten, or starch. One capsule provides 100% of the recommended daily value of 8 essential B vitamins. Quality assurance through third-party verification. Reasonably priced relative to several other brands.
A small percentage of consumers complained about quality of packaging, condition or quantity of softgels, or that the capsules were too potent.
Provides essential B vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B12, biotin, and folic acid. Suitable for vegans. All capsules are non-GMO and certified gluten-free. They are also free of wheat, dairy, soy, yeast, sugar, sodium, artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and colors.
Doesn't contain all 8 essential B vitamins. A few buyers complained of adverse reactions or no noticeable benefit.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
B vitamins do amazing things for the body, including keeping your heart and brain healthy, boosting energy, and even reducing stress. While you can purchase specific B vitamins individually, you might be better off purchasing a comprehensive B-complex supplement that contains all of the common types of B vitamins.
In order to choose the right supplement for you, it helps to understand which ingredients you need and which you’d be better off avoiding. You also want to consider other factors that may impact the effectiveness and digestibility of the vitamins.
Here is a short guide to help you find the best vitamin B supplement for you, including some of our top recommendations.
As with any supplement, the ingredients should be your primary concern when choosing a B-complex vitamin supplement.
Types of B vitamins
Here are the common B vitamins you can expect to find in a vitamin B supplement and why you need them:
Vitamin B1: Thiamine is good for your heart, and it also helps convert nutrients into energy that your body can use.
Vitamin B2: Riboflavin also helps with the digestion of food and is beneficial for the brain.
Vitamin B3: Niacin is useful for many things, including DNA production, healthy cholesterol levels and joints, and metabolizing food. It may also help to protect the brain against dementia.
Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid helps with metabolism, cholesterol, energy, and hormone production.
Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine is essential for nerve, heart, blood vessel, and brain health, as well as DNA production.
Vitamin B7: Biotin helps regulate metabolism and gene expression. You may know biotin as the vitamin of choice for improving the health of skin, hair and nails.
Vitamin B9: Folic acid/folate helps with metabolism, the formation of blood cells and cell division and growth. It’s considered especially crucial for pregnant women.
Vitamin B12: Cobalamin is essential for neurological health, blood cell production, and DNA production. When possible, choose a vitamin that offers methylcobalamin, which is more readily absorbed by the body than cyanocobalamin.
Check the ingredient list for these as well:
Probiotics: Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut and give your immune and digestive system a boost. Some vitamin B supplements may include a couple strains of probiotics in addition to the B vitamins.
Enzymes: Enzymes help your body break down food so it can be more readily absorbed and used for energy. They’re not common in vitamin B supplements, but you may be able to find a few that offer this if you’re interested.
Artificial dyes: Artificial dyes serve no purpose other than to color the vitamin, and some argue that they may even be harmful to you. You might notice these as “FD&C” (Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act) followed by a color and number.
Fillers: Fillers help to bulk up the tablet, but they don’t offer any real benefits. Common fillers include rice flour and magnesium stearate.
Pure and hypoallergenic
The Pure Encapsulations B-Complex Plus contains all eight common B vitamins with no fillers, GMO ingredients, or gluten. It’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and you only need to take a single capsule per serving. Few users reported adverse reactions to the B complex, which isn’t something that can be said of all vitamin B supplements. This may be one of the reasons this supplement is so often recommended by doctors.
Form: Most vitamin B supplements are either capsules or tablets. Some say that capsules are easier for the body to digest than tablets, but this isn’t always the case. Choose the form that you prefer. There are also some liquid vitamin B supplements available for those who have trouble swallowing pills.
Serving size: Vitamin B supplements are usually not large, and most only have a single tablet or capsule per serving. However, you might need to take two or more pills per serving if the supplement you choose has a number of extras like probiotics, enzymes, and other vitamins or minerals.
If you don’t like taking pills, check the label to determine how large the pills are and how many you will need to take in order to get a full serving. Go with a supplement that offers the ingredients you want in the smallest serving size.
Daily values: Many B vitamins are small and affordable, so it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to put 200%, 500%, or even 1,000% of your daily value in each vitamin. This might seem like it’s beneficial, but it’s usually unnecessary. Your body can’t use all of those extra vitamins, so your body excretes them. B vitamins are water-soluble, so you don’t have to worry about them building up in your system if you take too much, but it usually isn’t necessary to exceed the recommended daily value by that much. You’ll also get some B vitamins through food, and that coupled with a vitamin B supplement should be more than enough.
Third-party verification: Supplement manufacturers are not required to prove the potency or purity of their vitamins, but some companies go the extra mile and seek third-party verification to prove that their supplements live up to the claims on the label. You might want to choose one of these verified supplements if you want to be absolutely sure about what you’re buying. Look for products that are USP Verified or NSF Certified.
Consuming excessively high quantities of niacin or vitamin B6 can have adverse side effects like vomiting and light sensitivity.
Vegetarians and vegans are at a greater risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because this vitamin most commonly found in meat, dairy, and other animal products.
Your urine will likely turn bright yellow once you begin taking a vitamin B supplement. This is normal. It’s just your body’s way of getting rid of the excess vitamins it can’t use.
When choosing a vitamin B supplement, it’s more important to pay attention to the price per serving than the price of the bottle. Take the total cost of the bottle and divide it by the number of servings the bottle contains. Be careful not to confuse the cost per serving with the cost per tablet because these may not always be the same.
Most vitamin B supplements range from about $0.15 to $0.40 per serving.
A higher price is not necessarily an indicator of a superior product, so you’re better off basing your decision on the supplement’s ingredients.
Small yet potent softgels
The Nature Made Super B Energy Complex is a great choice if you have trouble swallowing large pills. It contains all eight common B vitamins in doses that meet or exceed the recommended daily values without being too excessive, and this makes the softgels smaller than many other vitamin B supplements. Users say that the softgels are easy to swallow and that they’ve noticed a boost in their energy levels since they began taking the supplements.
Look for gluten-free supplements if you have a gluten sensitivity.
Check the expiration date on the packaging. Be sure that you can use up all of the vitamins before they expire.
Take your vitamin B supplement daily for best results.
If you don’t mind taking two capsules per serving, give the Integrative Therapeutics Active B-Complex a try. It contains all eight of the most common B vitamins in bioavailable forms, plus choline bitartrate and L-methylfolate. This supplement has been NSF Certified, so you can feel confident that you’re getting exactly what the label promises. Another option is the Bronson Super B Vitamin B Complex. These slow-release capsules provide a steady stream of eight B vitamins over the course of the day. You only need to take a single capsule per serving, and if you aren’t satisfied with the results, you can request your money back up to one year after your initial purchase.
Q. My B vitamins smell bad. Are they expired?
A. Not necessarily. B vitamins don’t always have a pleasant odor, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone bad. Check the expiration date on the packaging to see if they have actually expired.
Q. Why is methylcobalamin better than cyanocobalamin?
A. Methylcobalamin is the active form of vitamin B12 that your body can readily absorb and use. Cyanocobalamin must be converted into this active state before it can be used. This makes it cheaper than methylcobalamin for manufacturers, but it’s more difficult for your body to use.
Q. Who should take vitamin B supplements?
A. Pregnant women need higher levels of certain B vitamins, and a B complex can help with this. Older adults should also look into supplementing their vitamin B12, as the body’s ability to absorb this declines with age. Vegetarians and vegans, people taking certain medications, and those with health conditions like Crohn’s disease or cancer should also take extra B vitamins. Consult with your doctor if you’re unsure about whether you should be taking a vitamin B supplement.
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