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Surprising Effects of Taking Vitamin B Supplements, Says Science

Here are four ways taking vitamin B could benefit you right now.
FACT CHECKED BY Cedrina Calder, MD, MSPH
vitamin b

Although B vitamins are found in many foods, a few groups of people could benefit from taking additional vitamin B supplements. This includes older adults, those who have celiac disease, and even those who follow a vegan diet.

There are eight different kinds of B vitamins:

  • B1—Thiamine
  • B2—Riboflavin
  • B3—Niacin
  • B5—Pantothenic Acid
  • B6—Pyridoxine
  • B7—Biotin
  • B9—Folate (also known as folic acid)
  • B12—Cobalamin

If you suspect that you're deficient in one of the B vitamins, you've likely experienced a few unfavorable symptoms. This is why taking vitamin B supplements can help with any deficiencies you may experience. Below, we outline four positive effects you could experience from taking a B-complex supplement or one a stand-alone B vitamin (such as a B12 supplement). After, be sure to read up on The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.

1

It may reduce tingling in hands or feet.

Woman sitting on a sofa and rubbing her hands.
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There are a few reasons why you may be experiencing tingling in either your hands, feet or both. For example, when you experience tingling or numbness, it could be a sign that you have prediabetes which occurs when the body has higher than normal blood sugar (glucose) levels but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. More specifically, this sensation is a big indicator of pre-diabetic neuropathy and if left untreated, it could result in a type of nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. However, Cedrina Calder, MD, MSPH, and member of our medical review board notes that numbness and tingling are more often signs of diabetes than prediabetes. In fact, this symptom could be a big indicator of diabetic neuropathy.

However, a less severe cause for tingling or numbness in the hands or feet may be a vitamin B12 deficiency. Inadequate consumption of B-12 (found primarily in meat and animal byproduct) is known to cause a "pins and needles" sensation in both the hands and feet. This is because vitamin B-12 helps to produce a substance called myelin, which acts as a protective coating for nerves and enables them to transmit sensations. Without this shield, nerves can become damaged.

But before you start taking vitamin B12 supplements, be sure to talk with your physician.

2

It may treat mouth ulcers.

Woman taking tablet with glass of fresh water.
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Another symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency? Mouth sores or ulcers. These can pop up on your tongue, gums, or on the inside of your mouth. This can also be indicative of a folate deficiency (vitamin B9). While mouth ulcers usually don't need treatment, they can be quite painful, especially if you eat acidic fruits such as oranges, lemon, grapefruit, or something spicy. One way to decrease the pain and accelerate the healing process is to take vitamin B6 and B12 supplements.

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3

Reduces the risk of birth defects.

Black man holding belly of his pregnant wife making heart
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), folic acid (vitamin B9) can help reduce birth defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly. A baby is diagnosed with spina bifida when its spine doesn't develop correctly, which can ultimately lead to severe physical disabilities. Anencephaly is equally as serious, as it's a condition in which the baby's brain and skull do not form correctly. To prevent these serious birth defects, the CDC recommends that pregnant women take a vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.

4

Your energy levels may increase.

running
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Did you know a vitamin B deficiency could be the reason you constantly feel fatigued? As Cedrina Calder, MD, MSPH, and member of our medical review board informed us before, vitamin B12 deficiency lowers red blood cell count which could result in extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and rapid heart rate. Eating more meat, fish poultry, and eggs could solve this issue. However, a vitamin B12 supplement may be the most effective route, especially if you follow a plant-based diet.

For more, be sure to check out The 9 Most Essential Vitamins You Need in Your Diet, According to Yale Experts.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Read more