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B vitamin benefits represented by hands cupping a colorful array of vitamins and nutritional supplements

B vitamins are best known for converting the food we eat into fuel (energy) that the body uses to support brain function, optimal heart health, and healthy skin, with each of the B vitamins providing different health benefits. Unfortunately, our body doesn’t make or produce B vitamins, so we must get them through our diet or supplements. Because the B vitamins are water-soluble and not stored in the body, they must be replenished each day.

Healthy B vitamin levels can protect aging brains

Recent studies point to the role of B vitamins in protecting brain function over time. Researchers found that “optimal B-vitamin status is associated with better cognitive health in aging. A recent clinical trial provided evidence that supplementation with folic acid and related B-vitamins over a 2-year-period reduced global and regional brain atrophy, as measured by MRI scan in older adults.”

Which vitamins are considered B Vitamins?

Once thought of as a single nutrient, the B vitamins are eight different B vitamins that provide unique health benefits and functions in the body.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

  • Benefits: Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin and thiamine, is an essential nutrient that enables the proper function of all the body’s tissues and helps the body convert food into energy. As a water-soluble vitamin, we need a regular supply of this B vitamin from our diet or supplementation.
  • Recommended Daily Value: Adults and children 4 and older should consume 1.2 milligrams (mg)/day. Older adults, people with diabetes, individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery, and heavy drinkers are most likely to have low thiamin levels.
  • Food Sources: Small amounts of thiamine are naturally occurring in fish and mussels, pork, chicken, and beans. While brown rice has only a tiny bit of thiamine, white rice is an excellent source of thiamine. Fortified breakfast cereal and bread are the most common sources of thiamine in the average American diet.
  • Supplement Options: If you’re not getting the recommended amount of thiamin in your diet, Cooper Complete Original multivitamins contain 3 mg/serving, while Basic One multivitamins contain 1.5 mg/serving.  Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex has 100 mg/serving.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

  • Benefits: Riboflavin is involved in metabolic processes within the body and is necessary for proper cell function and energy production. Vitamin B2 is used to treat acne and muscle cramps and prevent migraine headaches.
  • Recommended Daily Value: Adults and children 4 and older should consume 1.3 mg/day. Vegans, people who drink little milk and consume little dairy, and athletes who are vegetarians are most likely to have too little riboflavin.
  • Food Sources: Milk, meat, eggs, nuts, green vegetables, and enriched flour contain riboflavin.
  • Supplement Options: If you’re not getting the recommended amount of riboflavin in your diet, Cooper Complete Original multivitamins contain 3 mg/serving, while Basic One multivitamins contain 1.5 mg/serving.  Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex has 100 mg/serving.

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

  • Benefits: Niacin acts as an antioxidant and plays a crucial role in cell signaling, DNA repair, lowering cholesterol and managing arthritis symptoms.
  • Recommended Daily Value: Adults and children 4 and older should consume 16 mg/day.
  • Food Sources: Chicken and turkey breast meat, beef, salmon and tuna provide 5-10 mg of niacin per 3-ounce serving. Nuts, legumes, and grains contain smaller amounts of niacin. Many commercial breads and breakfast cereals are fortified with niacin.
  • Supplement Options: If you’re not getting the recommended amount of niacin in your diet, Cooper Complete Original and Basic One multivitamins contain 20 mg/serving, while 4 gummies of Gummy Multivitamin contain 11 mg. Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex contains 108 mg/serving.

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Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

  • Benefits: This particular B vitamin is necessary for blood cell production, supporting a healthy digestive tract and contributing to the proper function of the nervous system. Vitamin B5 is also responsible for producing sex and stress-related hormones and promoting healthy skin, hair and eyes.
  • Recommended Daily Value:  Adults and children 4 and older should consume 5 mg/day.
  • Food Sources: Almost all animal- and plant-based foods contain pantothenic acid. Fortified breakfast cereals, shitake mushrooms and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of pantothenic acid.
  • Supplement Options: If you’re not getting the recommended amount of pantothenic acid in your diet, Cooper Complete Original and Basic One multivitamins contain 10 mg/serving, while 4 gummies of Gummy Multivitamin contain 5 mg. Cooper Complete  Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex contains 100 mg/serving.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

  • Benefits: Vitamin B6 is crucial for normal brain development and metabolism. While its primary role lies in creating neurotransmitters and regulating homocysteine levels, it is also important in supporting a healthy immune system.
  • Recommended Daily Value: Adults and children 4 and older should consume 1.7 mg/day.
  • Food Sources: Fortified cereals, poultry and beef, starchy vegetables (especially potatoes), and some non-citrus fruits like watermelon and raisins are the most common source of vitamin B6.
  • Supplement Options: If you’re not getting the recommended amount of Vitamin B6 in your diet, Cooper Complete Original and Basic One multivitamins contain 10 mg/serving, while 4 gummies of Gummy Multivitamin contain 5 mg. Cooper Complete  Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex contains 16.7 mg/serving.

Vitamin B7 (biotin)

  • Benefits: Biotin is most well-known for its link to hair, skin and nail health. This B vitamin helps form the building blocks of enzymes to break down food.
  • Recommended Daily Value: Adults and children 4 and older should consume 30 micrograms (mcg)/day. Certain groups can find themselves at a greater risk of biotin deficiency. For example, chronic alcohol consumption inhibits biotin absorption. And the NIH reports that up to a third of pregnant and breastfeeding women can develop a slight biotin deficiency even when consuming (through diet or supplementation) the recommended amount of biotin.
  • Food Sources: Most biotin in a healthy diet comes from meat. Biotin works in the body by helping form the building blocks of enzymes that break down food. Beef liver has a lot of biotin, with more than 30 mcg per 3-ounce serving. Whole eggs are a good source of biotin. Large eggs weigh about 2 ounces, and a 3-ounce portion of whole cooked eggs has 10 mcg biotin. Pork chops and hamburger patties have about 4 mcg per 3-ounce serving. Seeds, nuts, and some vegetables, including sweet potatoes, spinach and broccoli, have smaller amounts of biotin.
  • Supplement Options: If you’re not getting the recommended amount of biotin in your diet, Cooper Complete Original multivitamin contains 300 mcg/serving, while 4 gummies of Gummy Multivitamin have 100 mcg/serving. Cooper Complete Dermatologic Health contains 6000 mcg/serving. Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex has 400 mcg/serving.

Vitamin B9 (folate (natural) and folic acid (synthetic)

  • Benefits: Folate is critical for cell growth and DNA formation. In addition, folate works to regulate homocysteine levels throughout our lifetime. As an amino acid in the blood, higher than average amounts of homocysteine are directly related to heart disease. While not directly linked to preventing heart disease, folate effectively lowers homocysteine levels in the body, a risk factor for heart disease. Folate helps the brain improve mood naturally. In people who are depressed, low levels of folate may prevent the brain from making enough neurotransmitters. The L-methylfolate form of folate (found in Cooper Complete supplements) can help antidepressants work better. The research indicates that 7.5 to 15 mg of L-methylfolate enhances antidepressant response.
  • Bonus:  Learn more about the health benefits of folate.
  • Folate and Folic Acid: Folic acid and folate are commonly used in place of each other when referencing vitamin B9. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, while folate is the naturally occurring form in food. Folate encompasses all types of vitamin B9, while “folic acid” refers to one unique form of vitamin B9. So, while folic acid is always folate, folate is not always folic acid. Folate is the term used for vitamin B9 found naturally in foods and bioavailable supplement forms. Folic acid is a synthetic version of folate found in many supplements, fortified cereals, bread, pasta and rice.
  • Recommended Daily Value: Adults and children 4 and older should consume 400 mcg of Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE). One mcg DFE equals one mcg of food folate, 0.6 mcg folic acid from fortified foods or supplements consumed with food, and 0.5 mg folic acid from dietary supplements taken on an empty stomach.
  • Food Sources: At least some folate is in most foods, including meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, seafood, grains, fruits and vegetables. Spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, black-eyed peas, white rice, asparagus and brussels sprouts have some of the highest folate levels. To reduce neural tube congenital disabilities, since 1998, the Federal Government has mandated that fortified cereals and grains contain 140 mcg of folic acid per 100 grams of flour. Fortified foods are a significant portion of daily folate intake for most adults.
  • Supplement Options: The folate in Cooper Complete supplements is the active form, L-5-MTHF (Metafolin®). This active L-methylfolate form of folate crosses the blood-brain barrier and is thought to help the body produce serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Importantly, Metafolin® folate does not mask a vitamin B12 deficiency as many other forms of folic acid do. Cooper Complete Original and Basic One multivitamins contain 333 mcg DFE (200 mcg L-5-MTHF)/serving, while 4 gummies of Gummy Multivitamin have 400 mcg DFE (240 mcg L-5-MTHF)/serving. Cooper Complete Advanced B Complex contains 667 mcg DFE (400 mcg L-5-MTHF)/serving, while Methyl Folate 1000 and Methyl Folate 5000 contain 1667 mcg DFE (1000 mcg L-5-MTHF) and 8333 mcg DFE (5000 mcg L-5-MTHF) per serving/respectively.

Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin (natural) and cyanocobalamin (synthetic)

  • Benefits: Vitamin B12 aids in cell metabolism, nerve function and DNA production. Contrary to popular opinion, taking enormous amounts of B12 does not increase energy levels. The NIH states specifically that “except in people with a vitamin B12 deficiency, no evidence shows that vitamin B12 supplements increase energy or improve athletic performance.” This misconception of energy production stems from vitamin B12’s role in helping cell metabolism throughout the body. And while a deficiency of B12 can lead to tiredness or weakness, returning to healthy levels of B12 restores normal energy levels, but there is no evidence of it further boosting energy.

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  •  Bonus:  Learn who’s most at risk for B12 deficiency, the symptoms of a B12 deficiency, how the body may mask the deficiency, and how food and supplements can be used to correct it.
  • Recommended Daily Value: Adults and children 4 and older should consume 2.4 mcg/day. Older adults, those with pernicious anemia, gastrointestinal disorders such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, those who have had gastrointestinal surgery for weight loss or to remove a portion of the stomach, vegetarians and vegans are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Food Sources: Vitamin B12 is only in animal protein, fish, milk, eggs, and dairy. Nutritional yeast and cereals are fortified with vitamin B12. Interestingly, vitamin B12 in dairy products is almost three times more bioavailable than the B12 in other food sources. The bioavailability of supplements is about 50 percent higher than food sources.
  • Supplement Options: If you’re not getting the recommended amount of vitamin B12 in your diet, Cooper Complete Vitamin B12 contains 1000 mcg/serving, while Cooper Complete Original and Basic One multivitamins and Advanced B Complex contain 400 mcg/serving. Four Cooper Complete Multivitamin Gummies contain 100 mcg. The Vitamin B12 in Cooper Complete products is always in the more easily absorbable methylated form.

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