Ask The Herb Lady

With Cathy Schram

Should I Take A B-Complex For A B12 Deficiency?

Q: I was told that I have a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Can I just take a B-Complex, or will I need to take a separate B12? What is the difference?

A: Taking a B-Complex will not be enough B12 if you are deficient. B-complex is a great vitamin to take because it helps the health of your nervous system, skin, eyes, hair, liver and aids in proper brain function. The B’s help alleviate anxiety and depression. They act as co-enzymes involved in energy production. The main B vitamins in a B-complex are as follows:

  • B1 (Thiamine) – Enhances circulation and helps to assist in blood formulation, carbohydrate metabolism and in the production of hydrochloric acid, which aids in digestion.
  • B2 (Riboflavin) – Necessary for red blood cell formation, antibody production and cell growth. Also helps in the prevention of cataracts.
  • B3 (Niacin, Nicotinic Acid and Niacinamide) – Helps with proper circulation and healthy skin. Important for the nervous system and helps with memory.
  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – Known as the anti-stress vitamin. It is required by all cells in the body and helps in the production of neurotransmitters. Aids functioning of the adrenal glands.
  • B6 (Pyridoxine) – Important for both physical and mental health. It aids in maintaining sodium and potassium balance.
  • B12 (Methycobalamin) – Perhaps the most requested B vitamin. It aids in protection of the nervous system and helps to protect against neurological problems. B12 comes in many forms. Not all forms are effective. The most common form is cyanocobalamin because it is the easiest to manufacture and, therefore, the least expensive. However, your body has to convert it to a usable form in order for it to be absorbed. As a result, you need to take much larger amounts. The most effective form of B12 is methylcobalamin. Your body readily uses this form. I suggest taking it in a sublingual form for quicker absorption.

One good thing to remember is that B vitamins work together. Think of them as a team. If you are deficient in one of them, it is fine to take additional amounts of that particular B vitamin, but it is just one player. It needs the rest of the team to do its job. So, take a B Complex along with the additional B that is needed.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011.