Main content

    Health Information

    Vitamin B-Complex

    Vitamin B-Complex


    What Are Star Ratings?

    Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

    For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

    3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

    2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

    1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

    This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

    Used for Why
    3 Stars
    Wound Healing
    Follow label directions
    Learn More

    Thiamine (vitamin B1),1 pantothenic acid (vitamin B5),2 and other B vitamins3 have all been shown to play a role in wound healing in animal studies. For this reason, although human research is lacking, some alternative healthcare practitioners recommend a high-potency B vitamin supplement to promote wound healing.

    2 Stars
    Canker Sores
    300 mg B1 daily, 20 mg B2 daily, 150 mg B6 daily
    Learn More

    Several preliminary studies,4 , 5 , 6 , 7 though not all,8 have found a surprisingly high incidence of iron and B vitamin deficiency among people with recurrent canker sores. Treating these deficiencies has been reported in preliminary9 , 10 and controlled11 studies to reduce or eliminate recurrences in most cases. Supplementing daily with B vitamins-300 mg vitamin B1 , 20 mg vitamin B2 , and 150 mg vitamin B6 -has been reported to provide some people with relief.12 Thiamine (B1) deficiency specifically has been linked to an increased risk of canker sores.13 The right supplemental level of iron requires diagnosis of an iron deficiency by a healthcare professional using lab tests.

    1 Star
    Acne Rosacea
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    Preliminary reports in the 1940s claimed that rosacea improved with oral supplements or injections of B vitamins 14 , 15 , 16 On the other hand, one report exists of rosacea-like symptoms in a patient taking 100 mg per day of vitamin B6 and 100 mcg per day of vitamin B12 ; these symptoms subsided when the supplements were discontinued.17 More research is needed to evaluate the potential benefits or hazards of B vitamins for rosacea.

    1 Star
    Alcohol Withdrawal
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    Deficiencies of B-complex vitamins are common with chronic alcohol use.18 The situation is exacerbated by the fact that alcoholics have an increased need for B vitamins.19 It is possible that successful treatment of B-complex vitamin deficiencies may actually reduce alcohol cravings, because animals crave alcohol when fed a B-complex-deficient diet.20 Many doctors recommend 100 mg of B-complex vitamins per day.

    1 Star
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More
    In one double-blind study, 80 healthy male volunteers (aged 18 to 42 years) were randomly assigned to receive a daily multivitamin-mineral formula or placebo for 28 days.21 The multi contained the following: thiamine (15 mg), riboflavin (15 mg), niacin (50 mg), pantothenic acid (23 mg), vitamin B6 (10 mg), biotin (150 mcg), folic acid (400 mcg), vitamin B12 (10 mcg), vitamin C (500 mg), calcium (100 mg), magnesium (100 mg), and zinc (10 mg). Compared with the placebo group, the multivitamin group experienced consistent and statistically significant reductions in anxiety and perceived stress, as determined by questionnaires measuring psychological state. This group also tended to rate themselves as less tired and better able to concentrate.
    1 Star
    Athletic Performance
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    The B-complex vitamins are important for athletes, because they are needed to produce energy from carbohydrates. Exercisers may have slightly increased requirements for some of the B vitamins, including vitamin B2 , vitamin B6 , and vitamin B5 ( pantothenic acid );22 athletic performance can suffer if these slightly increased needs are not met.23 However, most athletes obtain enough B vitamins from their diet without supplementation,24 and supplementation studies have found no positive effect on performance measures for vitamin B2,25 , 26 vitamin B3 ( niacin ),27 or vitamin B6.28 On the contrary, large amounts of niacin have been shown to impair endurance performance.29

    1 Star
    Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    B vitamins , particularly vitamin B6 , have also been used for ADHD. Deficient levels of vitamin B6 have been detected in some ADHD patients.30 In a study of six children with low blood levels of the neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) serotonin, vitamin B6 supplementation (15-30 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day) was found to be more effective than methylphenidate (Ritalin®). However, lower amounts of vitamin B6 were not beneficial.31 The effective amount of vitamin B6 in this study was extremely large and could potentially cause nerve damage, although none occurred in this study. A practitioner knowledgeable in nutrition must be consulted when using high amounts of vitamin B6. High amounts of other B vitamins have shown mixed results in relieving ADHD symptoms.32 , 33

    1 Star
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    According to preliminary studies from many years ago, lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion by the stomach was associated with chronic hives, presumably as a result of increasing the likelihood of developing food allergies . In one such study, 31% were diagnosed as having achlorhydria (no gastric acid output), and 53% were shown to be hypochlorhydric (having low gastric acid output).34 In a related study, treatment with an HCl supplement and a vitamin B-complex supplement helped to treat people with hives.35 Betaine HCl is the most common hydrochloric acid-containing supplement; it comes in tablets or capsules measured in grains or milligrams. One or more tablets or capsules, each containing 5-10 grains (325-650 mg) are typically taken with a meal that contains protein. Diagnosis of a deficiency of HCl and supplementation with HCl should be supervised by a doctor.

    1 Star
    Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More
    Many minerals and vitamins appear to require adequate concentrations of stomach acid to be absorbed optimally-examples are iron,36 zinc,37 and B-complex vitamins,38 including folic acid.39 People with achlorhydria (no stomach acid) or hypochlorhydria may therefore be at risk of developing various nutritional deficiencies, which could presumably contribute to the development of a wide range of health problems.
    1 Star
    Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity, and Vitamin B12 Deficiency
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More
    Vitamin B12 supplementation may be beneficial for a subset of people suffering from indigestion: those with delayed emptying of the stomach contents in association with Helicobacter pylori infection and low blood levels of vitamin B12. In a double-blind study of people who satisfied those criteria, treatment with vitamin B12 significantly reduced symptoms of dyspepsia and improved stomach-emptying times.40
    1 Star
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    One trial studying postmenopausal women combined hormone replacement therapy with magnesium (600 mg per day), calcium (500 mg per day), vitamin C , B vitamins , vitamin D, zinc, copper, manganese, boron , and other nutrients for an eight- to nine-month period.41 In addition, participants were told to avoid processed foods, limit protein intake, emphasize vegetable over animal protein, and limit consumption of salt, sugar, alcohol, coffee, tea, chocolate, and tobacco. Bone density increased a remarkable 11%, compared to only 0.7% in women receiving hormone replacement alone.

    1 Star
    Premenstrual Syndrome
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    Many years ago, research linked B vitamin deficiencies to PMS in preliminary research.42 , 43 Based on that early work, some doctors recommend B-complex vitamins for women with PMS.44

    1 Star
    Tardive Dyskinesia
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    During a ten-year period, doctors at the North Nassau Mental Health Center in New York treated approximately 11,000 people with schizophrenia with a megavitamin regimen that included vitamin C (up to 4 grams per day), vitamin B3 -either as niacin or niacinamide-(up to 4 grams per day), vitamin B6 (up to 800 mg per day), and vitamin E (up to 1,200 IU per day). During that time, not a single new case of TD was seen, even though many of the people were taking neuroleptic drugs.45 Another psychiatrist who routinely used niacinamide , vitamin C, and vitamin B-complex over a 28-year period rarely saw TD develop in her patients.46 Further research is needed to determine which nutrients or combinations of nutrients were most important for preventing TD. The amounts of niacinamide and vitamin B6 used in this research may cause significant side effects and may require monitoring by a doctor.

    1 Star
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    An early report described the use of PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)-a compound commonly found in B-complex vitamins -for vitiligo. Consistent use of 100 mg of PABA three or four times per day, along with an injectable form of PABA and a variety of hormones tailored to individual needs, resulted, in many cases, in repigmentation of areas affected by vitiligo.47


    Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

    Vitamin B-complex includes several different nutrients, each of which has the potential to interact with drugs. Look up the unique interactions for each and discuss the potential benefits and risks of your current medications with your doctor or pharmacist before adding vitamin B-complex:

    Interactions with Medicines

    As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
    The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers' package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

    Side Effects

    Side Effects

    Vitamin B-complex includes several different nutrients, each of which has the potential for side effects. Look up the unique side effects for each and discuss the potential benefits and risks with your doctor or pharmacist:


    1. Alvarez OM, Gilbreath RL. Effect of dietary thiamine on intermolecular collagen cross-linking during wound repair: a mechanical and biochemical assessment. J Trauma 1982;22:20-4.

    2. Aprahamian M, Dentinger A, Stock-Damge C, et al. Effects of supplemental pantothenic acid on wound healing: experimental study in rabbit. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;41:578-89.

    3. Bosse MD, Axelrod AE. Wound healing in rats with biotin, pyridoxin, or riboflavin deficiencies. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1948;67:418-21.

    4. Porter SR, Scully C, Flint S. Hematologic status in recurrent aphthous stomatitis compared to other oral disease. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1988;66:41-4.

    5. Palopoli J, Waxman J. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis and vitamin B12 deficiency. South Med J 1990;83:475-7.

    6. Wray D, Ferguson MM, Hutcheon WA, Dagg JH. Nutritional deficiencies in recurrent aphthae. J Oral Pathol 1978;7:418-23.

    7. Barnadas MA, Remacha A, Condomines J, de Moragas JM. [Hematologic deficiencies in patients with recurrent oral aphthae]. Med Clin (Barc) 1997;109:85-7 [in Spanish].

    8. Olson JA, Feinberg I, Silverman S, et al. Serum vitamin B12, folate, and iron levels in recurrent aphthous ulceration. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1982;54:517-20.

    9. Weusten BL, van de Wiel A. Aphthous ulcers and vitamin B12 deficiency. Neth J Med 1998;53:172-5.

    10. Porter S, Flint S, Scully C, Keith O. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis: the efficacy of replacement therapy in patients with underlying hematinic deficiencies. Ann Dent 1992;51:14-6.

    11. Wray D, Ferguson MM, Mason DK, et al. Recurrent aphthae: treatment with vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron. Br Med J 1975;2(5969):490-3.

    12. Nolan A, McIntosh WB, Allam BF, Lamey PJ. Recurrent aphthous ulceration: vitamin B1, B2 and B6 status and response to replacement therapy. J Oral Pathol Med 1991;20:389-91.

    13. Haisraeli-Shalish M, Livneh A, Katz J, et al. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis and thiamine deficiency. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 1996;82:634-6.

    14. Tulipan L. Acne rosacea: a vitamin B complex deficiency. Arch Dermatol Syphilol 1947;56:589.

    15. Stillians AW. Pyridoxine in treatment of acne vulgaris. J Invest Dermatol 1946;7:150-1.

    16. Johnson L, Eckardt R. Rosacea keratitis and conditions with vascularization of the cornea treated with riboflavin. Arch Ophthamol 1940;23:899-907.

    17. Sherertz EF. Acneiform eruption due to "megadose" vitamins B6 and B12. Cutis 1991;48:119-20.

    18. Baker H. A vitamin profile of alcoholism. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1983;(suppl 24):179.

    19. Schuckit MA. Alcohol and Alcoholism. In: Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, et al, eds, Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998, 2503-8.

    20. Norton VP. Interrelationships of nutrition and voluntary alcohol consumption in experimental animals. Br J Addiction 1977;72:205-12.

    21. Carroll D, Ring C, Suter M, Willemsen G. The effects of an oral multivitamin combination with calcium, magnesium, and zinc on psychological well-being in healthy young male volunteers: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology 2000;150:220-5.

    22. Keith R, Alt L. Riboflavin status of female athletes consuming normal diets. Nutr Res 1991;11:727-34.

    23. Van der Beek EJ, Van Dokkum W, Wedel M, et al. Thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6: impact of restricted intake on physical performance in man. J Am Coll Nutr 1994;13:629-40.

    24. Van der Beek EJ. Vitamin supplementation and physical exercise performance. J Sports Sci 1991;9:77-90 [review].

    25. Winters LR, Yoon JS, Kalkwarf HJ, et al. Riboflavin requirements and exercise adaptation in older women. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;56:526-32.

    26. Tremblay A, Boiland F, Breton M, et al. The effects of riboflavin supplementation on the nutritional status and performance of elite swimmers. Nutr Res 1984;4:201-8.

    27. Murray R, Bartoli WP, Eddy DE, et al. Physiological and performance responses to nicotinic-acid ingestion during exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1995;27:1057-62.

    28. Manore MM. Vitamin B6 and exercise. Int J Sport Nutr 1994;4:89-103.

    29. Murray R, Bartoli WP, Eddy DE, et al. Physiological and performance responses to nicotinic-acid ingestion during exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1995;27:1057-62.

    30. Bhagavan HN, Coleman M, Coursin DB. The effect of pyridoxine hydrochloride on blood serotonin and pyridoxal phosphate contents in hyperactive children. Pediatrics 1975;55:437-41.

    31. Coleman M, Steinberg G, Tippett J, et al. A preliminary study of the effect of pyridoxine administration in a subgroup of hyperkinetic children: a double-blind crossover comparison with methylphenidate. Biol Psychiatry 1979;14:741-51.

    32. Brenner A. The effects of megadoses of selected B complex vitamins on children with hyperkinesis: controlled studies with long term followup. J Learning Dis 1982;15:258-64.

    33. Haslam RHA. Is there a role for megavitamin therapy in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Adv Neurol 1992;58:303-10.

    34. Rawls WB, Ancona VC. Chronic urticaria associated with hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria. Rev Gastroenterol 1951;18:267-71.

    35. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin diseases. South Med J 1945;38:235-41.

    36. Murray MJ, Stein N. A gastric factor promoting iron absorption. Lancet 1968;1:614.

    37. Sturniolo GC, Montino MC, Rossetto L, et al. Inhibition of gastric acid secretion reduces zinc absorption in man. J Am Coll Nutr 1991;10:372-5.

    38. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin conditions. South Med J 1945;38:235-41.

    39. Russell RM, Krasinski SD, Samloff IM. Correction of impaired folic acid (Pte Glu) absorption by orally administered HCl in subjects with gastric atrophy. Am J Clin Nutr 1984;39:656.

    40. Gumurdulu Y, Serin E, Ozer B, et al. The impact of B12 treatment on gastric emptying time in patients with Helicobacter pylori infection. *J Clin Gastroenterol* 2003;37:230-3.

    41. Abraham GE, Grewal H. A total dietary program emphasizing magnesium instead of calcium. J Reprod Med 1990;35:503-7.

    42. Biskind MS. Nutritional deficiency in the etiology of menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, cystic mastitis and premenstrual tension: treatment with vitamin B-complex. J Clin Endocrinol Metabol 1943;3:227-34.

    43. Biskind MS, Biskind GR, Biskind LH. Nutritional deficiency in the etiology of menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, cystic mastitis and premenstrual tension. Surg Gynecol Obstet 1944;78:49-57.

    44. Piesse JW. Nutritional factors in the premenstrual syndrome. Int Clin Nutr Rev 1984;4(2):54-80 [review].

    45. Tkacz C. A preventive measure for tardive dyskinesia. J Int Acad Prev Med 1984;8:(5)5-8.

    46. Toll N. To the editor. J Orthomolec Psychiatry 1982;11:42.

    47. Sieve BF. Further investigations in the treatment of vitiligo. Virginia Med Monthly 1945;Jan:6-17.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.