Depression Treatment The Mental Health Benefits of Vitamin B Complex By Sarah Sheppard Updated on June 28, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Stock_colors / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Do B Vitamins Do? Effect of Vitamin Deficiency Untreated Vitamin Deficiency Vitamin B Benefits How to Boost Your Vitamin B Mental health is impacted by many factors, including genetics, life experiences, physical environment, socioeconomic status, social interactions, lifestyle habits, and diet. While you can’t control every factor, there are things you can do to improve your mood and quality of life. How Vitamin B May Help You Taking a vitamin B complex, for instance, in one study has been shown to have a modest, but positive influence on mood symptoms of depression. However, vitamin and nutritional supplements should not be used as a replacement for traditional mental healthcare. It can, however, potentially complement your treatment. Because the connection between the body and brain is so strong, maintaining a healthy diet full of vitamins and nutrients can positively impact your overall health and well-being. This article covers the importance of B vitamins and the possible benefits of taking a vitamin B complex supplement. What Do B Vitamins Do? Vitamins are important to our health. While there are only 13 essential vitamins (including vitamin A, C, D, K, etc.), each plays a different role in the body and brain. The Role of Vitamin B The B vitamins, in particular, contribute to optimal brain health and have a direct effect on your mood. B vitamins impact your energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis, and repair, and the synthesis of neurochemicals and signaling molecules, among other aspects of the brain. This is why maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B is necessary for psychological and neurological functioning. The types of B vitamins include: Thiamine (B1)Riboflavin (B2)Niacin (B3)Pantothenic acid (B5)Pyridoxine (B6)Folate (B9) Cobalamin (B12) Vitamin B Complex While some people get adequate amounts of vitamin B in their diet, others may benefit from a vitamin B complex. What Is a Vitamin B Complex? A vitamin B complex is a supplement that includes all of the B vitamins in one pill. Often, it will contain 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), but sometimes it can supersede that amount. You should not supplement with vitamins without guidance from your doctor. While supplementation may be a good way to get adequate nutrient intake, especially in terms of certain B vitamins, you want to make sure that you are receiving adequate amounts of the necessary B vitamins. The Effect of Vitamin Deficiency on Mental Health Nearly 10% of the U.S. population has nutritional deficiencies, while 31% of the U.S. population is at risk for at least one vitamin deficiency or anemia. Vitamin deficiencies can be caused by poor nutrition, vegetarianism, chronic alcoholism, post-gastrectomy surgery, pregnancy, and certain medications, among other factors or conditions. The most common vitamin deficiencies include folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, with a subclinical vitamin B12 deficiency affecting somewhere between 2.5% and 26% of the population, depending on estimates. Unfortunately, many people don’t know when they’re experiencing a vitamin deficiency. They may be experiencing physical and mental health symptoms, but are unsure of the underlying cause. What Happens If a Vitamin B Deficiency Is Left Untreated? If a deficiency goes untreated and worsens it can cause serious harm to the body and brain. In the case of a B12 deficiency, people could experience significant physical, neurological, and psychiatric symptoms. Vitamin B deficiency can affect memory function and cognition. It can also affect the neurodevelopment of a child in utero and lead to a greater risk of neurological birth defects. There’s a reason why a healthy diet, along with exercise and social connection, is recommended for optimal mental health. Countless studies have found that a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can support the prevention of certain mental health conditions and promote the maintenance of overall mental health. Signs of Vitamin B Deficiency Some signs that you’re experiencing a vitamin B deficiency include: Low energyMood changesCognitive issuesTingling in the extremities To evaluate your vitamin levels and overall health, you’ll want to get blood work, which you can request from your primary care physician. Benefits of Vitamin B on Your Mental Health While B vitamins are essential for maintaining your bodily function, they can also improve your mental health and well-being. This is is why it's important to maintain healthy levels of vitamin B on a daily basis. Benefits of Vitamin B Here's how vitamin B helps support mental wellness:Boosts energy levels: B vitamins help convert food into energy.Supports healthy brain function: Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 contribute to homocysteine metabolism, which can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.Improves mood: Vitamin B6, in particular, is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood.Alleviates stress: There is some research that B vitamins are associated with certain measures of reduced stress. How to Boost Your Vitamin B While a vitamin B complex is often a good option for maintaining adequate levels of B vitamins, additional approaches may be helpful, including: Take a vitamin D3 vitamin along with the vitamin B complex Add more fruits and vegetables into your diet, including fibrous foods and foods with antioxidants such as cucumbers, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and berries Consider adopting a plant-based diet and eating foods high in B12 Increase your water intake, aiming for half your body weight in ounces Get sunlight every day Exercise regularly, which can include brisk outdoor walks Get routine blood work to monitor your levels What many people don’t know is that B12 can be produced in the gut, is thought to be involved in the regulation of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, and is potentially influential in the gut-brain connection. Verywell Mind's Dietary Supplement Methodology A Word From Verywell It’s important to take care of your body and brain, especially if you’re experiencing a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression. In addition to working with a primary care doctor and mental health professional to maintain your mental health, it can be important to be aware of your nutritional and vitamin intake. Understand, however, that severe mental health conditions require professional treatment. A change in diet may help, but it will not resolve underlying mental health issues not related to specific vitamin deficiencies. Vitamins and Supplements to Boost Your Mood and Brain Health 12 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Lewis JE, Tiozzo E, Melillo AB, et al. The effect of methylated vitamin B complex on depressive and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in adults with depression. ISRN Psychiatry. 2013;2013:621453. Kennedy DO. B vitamins and the brain: mechanisms, dose and efficacy—a review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Laboratory Studies. CDC's Second Nutrition Report. 2021 May 4. Bird JK, Murphy RA, Ciappio ED, McBurney MI. Risk of deficiency in multiple concurrent micronutrients in children and adults in the united states. Nutrients. 2017;9(7):655. Shipton MJ, Thachil J. Vitamin B12 deficiency – A 21st century perspective. Clin Med (Lond). 2015;15(2):145-150. Green R, Allen LH, Bjørke-Monsen AL, et al. Vitamin B12 deficiency. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2017;3(1):1-20. Mikkelsen K, Stojanovska L, Apostolopoulos V. The effects of vitamin b in depression. Curr Med Chem. 2016;23(38):4317-4337. Nutritional psychiatry: Towards improving mental health by what you eat. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 2019;29(12):1321-1332. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Pantothenic Acid. Kennedy DO. B vitamins and the brain: Mechanisms, dose and efficacy—A review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68. doi:10.3390/nu8020068 National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B6 Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Young LM, Pipingas A, White DJ, Gauci S, Scholey A. A systematic review and meta-analysis of b vitamin supplementation on depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress: Effects on healthy and “at-risk” individuals. Nutrients. 2019;11(9). doi:10.3390/nu11092232 By Sarah Sheppard Sarah Sheppard is a writer, editor, ghostwriter, writing instructor, and advocate for mental health, women's issues, and more. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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