Complete B Vitamin Supplements: The Importance of Bioavailability

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In recent years, many nutrition experts have started recommending a complete B vitamin supplement alongside a standard multivitamin. That’s because B vitamins are so versatile — they play a role in everything from energy metabolism to neurological support to endocrine function. As you probably know, there is no single “Vitamin B” — rather, there are nine separate B vitamins. These water-soluble vitamins are all similar in structure, but they vary slightly in function, so it is important to make sure your vitamin supplement offers all of them. Specifically, you want to find a B vitamin supplement that includes all of the following:

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

However, it is important to note that the mere presence of each B vitamin in the supplement may not be enough: you also need to choose a supplement that offers B vitamins in bioavailable forms, in order to ensure that you are actually absorbing them. Read on to learn more about the bioavailability of B vitamins and what you should look for in a supplement if you want to maximize absorption.

The Bioavailability of B Vitamins

When you take a B vitamin supplement, you want to be able to trust that your body is absorbing the nutrients and using them to perform the essential functions describe above. However, research suggests that this may not always be the case when you are getting your B vitamins through a standard supplement or even through food. Based on a thorough analysis of the available evidence, a 2016 review paper out of Northumbria University in the UK concluded that simply taking in the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for each of the B vitamins was not necessarily enough to ensure that someone was getting enough B vitamins in their diet.

Limits on the bioavailability of B vitamins may be one explanation for the experimental findings. Although data on the bioavailability of specific B vitamins is limited, preliminary evidence suggests that some of the B vitamins you take in simply pass through your body without every reaching the cells that rely on nutrition to function. Each one of the B vitamins is water-soluble, so they can easily pass through the digestive system and be excreted in urine.

Boosting Bioavailability in B Vitamin Supplements

In order to resolve issues related to B vitamin absorption, researchers have been looking for ways to tweak B vitamin supplement formulations in ways that increase bioavailability, as well as other key characteristics that increase supplement absorption and effectiveness. Here are a few of the most effective:


  • Activated B vitamin supplements. One of the most effective ways to do so is to “activate” B vitamins by making a chemical change: specifically, by adding a phosphate group to the vitamin. When you take a standard B vitamin supplement, that phosphate group has to be added inside your digestive system before the B vitamin can be absorbed. When you take a supplement where the B vitamins are provided in an activated form, that step is taken before you swallow the supplement, which can help make sure your body absorbs that maximum quantity of B vitamins that you are taking in.
  • Fat soluble forms of B vitamins. As previously mentioned, B vitamins are water-soluble, which makes it easy for them to pass through your digestive system. However, scientists have found a way to alter vitamin B1 (thiamin) so that it is fat-soluble instead of water-soluble. This form, known as benfotiamine, is more physiologically active than its water-soluble counterpart, which means it can do more to support cellular function.
  • Improving on active forms of B vitamins. Typically, when in folate included in a B vitamin supplement, it is provided is a calcium salt form of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). However, questions have been raised about the solubility of this supplement — that is, whether or not it can dissolve fast enough in your digestive tract to be absorbed. Moreover, in highly acidic environments like your stomach, calcium salt forms of 5-MTHF start to break down, which can also limit the amount of active folate that ultimately reaches the cells that need it. To resolve these problems and increase bioavailability, formulators have developed Quatrefolicy, a proprietary folate formulation that has proven to be more soluble, stable, and bioavailable than calcium salt forms of 5-MTHF.

Clearly, finding the right B vitamin supplement isn’t as easy as it might seem. You can find lots of B vitamin supplements at your standard grocery store, but if you truly want to see the metabolic, neurological, and endocrine benefits of a B vitamin supplement, you need to find a complete B vitamin supplement that is formulated specifically to boost bioavailability.


Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers Vita B Complete, which contains all nine B vitamins. It includes activated forms of Vitamin B2, B6, and B9, as well as both benfotiamine and Quatrefolicy. Contact us today to learn more about this innovative product!

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