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B vitamins are nutrients that play essential roles in your body. There are eight water-soluble B vitamins plus choline, which is a vitamin-like compound that’s often grouped with B vitamins due to its similar effects on the body (1, 2).
The eight B vitamins are:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate)
- B12 (cobalamin)
Though each B vitamin has unique functions, many of them are involved in the same bodily processes, such as metabolism and acting as cofactors for enzymatic reactions (1).
B complex supplements contain a combination of B vitamins. Some contain all eight, while others provide just a few. Plus, some contain vitamin-B-like nutrients, such as choline and inositol, a type of carbohydrate that was once considered a B vitamin (3, 4, 5).
Although many foods contain B vitamins, a variety of factors, including age, diet, genetic variations, and certain health conditions can increase your need for B vitamins or negatively affect how you absorb B vitamins.
Many populations, including vegans, those with certain genetic mutations, older adults, people with certain medical conditions, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people on certain medications, and heavy drinkers, may need a B complex supplement (6).
Why these supplements made the list
While a number of B complex supplements are available at grocery stores, supplement stores, and online, not all of them contain the most absorbable forms of these nutrients.
Plus, most B complex vitamins contain folic acid, the synthetic form of the folate found in food. Folic acid differs structurally from folate and has different effects in the body.
Research has shown that high intake of folic acid can cause unmetabolized folic acid to accumulate in the blood, which has been associated with negative health outcomes, such as an increased risk of autism in offspring and accelerated mental decline (7).
For this reason, many experts suggest supplements containing the biologically active form of folate called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
Plus, 5-MTHF is more appropriate for those who have genetic polymorphisms, such as methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), that affect enzymes involved in folate metabolism (1).
Additionally, the following criteria were used to narrow down the best B complex supplements:
- strict standards for quality and purity from the manufacturer
- the bioavailability of its nutrients
- whether it contains unnecessary ingredients like fillers, artificial sweeteners, or colors
- whether healthcare professionals trust it
Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate or control supplements in the same way as medications or food products. Therefore, it’s especially important to evaluate the quality of supplements by other means before buying a product.
Here are the 10 best B complex supplements of 2020.
A note on price
General price ranges with dollar signs ($ to $$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher price range.
Generally, prices range from $0.30–$1.50 per serving, or $18–$45 per container, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
Liquid formulations and gummies tend to have a higher price per serving, compared with other formulations.
Note that serving sizes vary by product.
- $ = under $0.50 per serving
- $$ = $0.50–$1 per serving
- $$$ = over $1 per serving
1–4. Best overall
The following B complex supplements are some of the best on the market.
1. Integrative Therapeutics Active B-Complex
Integrative Therapeutics is a trusted brand in the medical field.
They manufacture their supplements in a cGMP (current good manufacturing practices) audited facility and use both in-house and third-party testing to ensure supplement quality.
GMPs refer to standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that supplements are of good quality.
This supplement is also NSF Certified for Sport. NSF is an independent organization that tests for supplement quality. NSF Certified for Sport supplements are free of more than 270 substances banned by many major athletic organizations (10).
Integrative Therapeutics is a well-rounded B complex that uses bioavailable forms of B vitamins, including 5-MTHF and methylcobalamin. In addition to the eight B vitamins, it provides choline and inositol.
2. Pure Encapsulations B-Complex Plus
Pure Encapsulations is a supplement company that exceeds standards set by United States Pharmacopeia (USP), a nonprofit organization that sets strict, product-specific standards for the quality, purity, and identity of supplements. The company is also GMP certified (11).
Pure Encapsulations’ supplements are certified gluten-free and all ingredients used are GMO-free.
Pure Encapsulations’ B-complex Plus contains all eight B vitamins and uses 5-MTHF and methylcobalamin.
3. Douglas Labs B-Complex with Metafolin and Intrinsic Factor
Douglas Labs is a GMP and NSF International registered manufacturing facility that produces high quality supplements.
Their in-house testing laboratories have ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, which ensures that laboratories operate competently and generate valid results when testing products.
Douglas Labs B-Complex with Metafolin and Intrinsic Factor contains all eight B vitamins, including Metafolin, which is a calcium salt of L-5-methyltetrahydrofolic. Studies have shown that Metafolin’s absorption is comparable to or higher than that of folic acid (12).
It also contains added intrinsic factor, a protein necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12 (13).
4. Nordic Naturals Vitamin B Complex
Nordic Naturals is best known for its fish oil supplements, but they make an excellent B complex as well.
Nordic Naturals’ Vitamin B Complex contains all eight B vitamins in absorbable forms, including methylcobalamin and 5-MTHF.
All of Nordic Naturals’ supplements are non-GMO, as well as gluten- and dairy-free, and do not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
The company also offers customers a certificate of analysis to verify that their products have undergone specified testing and adhere to product specifications and standards.
5–6. Best liquid
Some people prefer liquid supplements over capsules or chewable products. The following liquid B-complex supplements are some of the best.
5. Pure Encapsulations B-Complex Liquid
Pure Encapsulations’ B-complex Liquid is a good option for people who don’t like to or can’t swallow pills. It contains six B vitamins — vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid.
However, be aware that this B complex does not contain biotin or folate. If you have increased folate needs, such as during pregnancy or in cases of genetic polymorphisms that affect folate metabolism, you’ll need to supplement separately with folate.
Pure Encapsulations’ B-complex liquid is sweetened with juice concentrates and stevia, which give it a pleasant taste without added sugar.
6. Brainchild Nutritionals B-Complex Liquid
Brainchild Nutritionals takes pride in using high quality, highly absorbable ingredients in their supplement products.
Their B complex liquid contains all eight B vitamins in highly absorbable forms, plus biotin, inositol, and L-glycine. L-glycine is an amino acid that’s needed for a variety of important processes, including the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant produced by the body (14).
Brainchild Nutritional supplements undergo independent laboratory testing to ensure quality, purity, and potency, and they’re free of eggs, gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, refined sugars, soy, and artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.
7. Best vegan B complex
Vegans are at risk of developing a deficiency in certain B vitamins, including vitamin B12, as these nutrients are most concentrated in animal-based foods (15).
Still, some high quality B complex supplements are vegan-friendly.
7. Thorne B-Complex #12
Thorne B-Complex #12 is a vegan B complex supplement that contains all eight B vitamins in active, absorbable forms, but it doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients.
Thorne follows cGMP practices and boasts an “A” rating from the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), a regulatory agency run by the Australian Department of Health.
What’s more, their supplements undergo four rounds of testing to ensure quality and purity.
8. Best gummies
Gummy vitamins are enjoyed by children and adults alike and a tasty way to meet your nutrient needs. Here’s the best B complex gummy on the market.
8. Pure Encapsulations PureNutrients Gummies
Unlike most gummy supplements, Pure Encapsulations’ PureNutrients Gummies only contain 2 grams of added sugar per four-gummy serving. This is significantly less than the amount found in many popular gummy vitamins.
Although not technically a B complex vitamin, Pure Encapsulations’ PureNutrients Gummies contain all eight B vitamins in absorbable forms. Plus, the gummies provide other important nutrients, including vitamin D3, vitamin C, choline, and zinc.
Gummy vitamins can be easily mistaken for candy. For this reason, it’s important to keep them out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion.
9. Best powder
Powders are another excellent option for people who can’t tolerate swallowing a pill. Here’s an excellent option for a powdered B complex supplement.
9. Designs for Health Vitavescence Powder
Designs for Health’s Vitavescence Powder is a multivitamin/multimineral powder that contains all eight B vitamins, as well as a variety of other nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, magnesium, and chromium.
It also contains mixed tocopherols, alpha-lipoic acid, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against cellular damage (16).
It’s sweetened with stevia and free of gluten, soy, and dairy, and it doesn’t contain any added sugar. The powder can be mixed into your favorite beverage.
10. Best B complex without B12 and folate
Some people can’t tolerate active forms of vitamin B12 or folate and need to supplement separately with these nutrients.
Plus, B complex vitamins without these vitamins are ideal for those who need to customize their dosages and forms of folate and vitamin B12, such as people with certain genetic variants.
10. Seeking Health B-Minus
Seeking Health B-minus contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, and biotin, but it leaves out folate and vitamin B12.
This is a good choice for people who don’t tolerate active forms of folate or vitamin B12 or need to take specific forms of these nutrients. This allows for separate supplementation of vitamin B12 and folate based on individual needs (17).
Seeking Health follows cGMP practices and offers Certificates of Analysis on their products by request.
How to choose
When searching for a B complex vitamin, it’s important to purchase products from trusted brands, such as the ones listed above. This can ensure you’re taking a high quality supplement that contains the readily absorbable forms of nutrients.
B vitamins are relatively safe, even when taken in very high doses. This is because they’re water soluble, and your body excretes whatever it doesn’t need via urine.
Even though these side effects are rare, it’s important to follow the directions on the supplement bottle closely, or follow your healthcare provider’s dosing instructions.
This is especially true when taking a multivitamin that contains fat-soluble vitamins, as these are not excreted by your body like water-soluble vitamins.
Many people, including older adults, those with anxiety or depression, and people taking common medications, such as birth control and antidiabetic medications, may benefit from a B complex supplement (22, 23, 24).
Your healthcare provider can help you determine whether taking a B complex is the right choice for you and suggest the optimal dosage.
To learn more about B complex vitamins and dosing, read this article.
Useful supplement shopping guides
Check out these two articles to help make supplement shopping a breeze:
The bottom line
B vitamins are needed for a variety of essential functions in your body. Yet, many people are at risk of deficiency in one or more B vitamins.
Fortunately, a number of high quality B complex supplements are available, no matter your dietary restrictions or nutrient needs.
If you’re looking for a high quality B complex supplement, try out one of the products listed above. If you’re curious to learn whether a B complex would benefit your health, speak to a trusted healthcare provider for advice.