Dr. Nancy answers: © 2013 Nancy Emerson Lombardo, Ph.D., Brain Health and Wellness Center®


When you look at labels on bottles for supplements that offer an assortment of B vitamins, they are labelled “B-50 Complex”  or B-100 Complex.  The 50 and 100 refer to the amount of each vitamin in the combination pill.  Sometimes it is in mg, sometimes mcg, depending on the particular individual B vitamin.  And usually they all have 400 mcg of folate.

When choosing a brand, I suggest staying with the highly rated brands such as Carlson Labs, made in the US by a family run high quality firm based in Chicagoland.  Some lesser brands do not include the full range of B-vitamins so necessary for brain and body health, nor is the quality of the vitamins as reliable.  (Shop at Brain Health on-line store)  or email me for a email-able price list:  nemerson@healthcareinsights.net

Here is Carlson’s ingredient list in their B-50 Complex product named “B-Compleet-50”:

Vitamin( including common name and Vit B number):                                                                                 amount         RDA %DV

B-1 Thiamin (as thiamin HCL)    50 mg 3333%
B-2 Riboflavin   50 mg 2941%
Niacin (as niacinamide) (B-3) 100 mg   500%
B-6 (as pyridoxine HCL)   50 mg 2500%
Folate (folic acid) (B-9) 400 mcg  100%
B-12 (cyanocobalamin)   50 mcg   833%
Biotin (B-7) aka co-enzyme R and vit H.   50 mcg      17%*
Pantothenic Acid (as d-calcium pantothenate) (B-5)  200 mcg   2000%
Other nutrients included:
Choline (as choline bitartrate) important for building brain cells   50 mg DV not established
Inositol   50 mg DV not established
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)   50 mg DV not established


My recommendations in favor of B-50 are adopted from those of a colleague, Joan Reardon, RN, owner of the Natural Market in Groton. (See her website at http://www.thenaturalmarket.com/)  Joan has been in the whole foods and supplement business for nearly 40 years and is more than knowledgeable.  She pointed out that the B-100 Complex has 100 mg of B-6 which is the recommended daily LIMIT for B-6.  Since B-6 is added to many foods, especially grains, and also occurs naturally in many other foods, you could get too much.  Not dangerous to take B-100, just more sensible to take the B-50, as you get all you need.  The key is to have a little of each B vitamin every day since they are mostly water soluble and get flushed out of our bodies.

Very important: Don’t “double up” on your B-vitamin complexes or even multi-vitamins as you can end up with too much of either B-6 or folate.  Note that some B-vitamins do not have upper safety limits (e.g. B-1, B-12 and some others) but B-6 and folate do; in the case of folate, high levels are only dangerous if there is a B-12 deficiency.  The amount of B-12 in a typical multi-vitamin or B-complex may not be sufficient to overcome a deficiency though in most cases it will help prevent a deficiency.

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* in general, intestinal bacteria produce biotin in excess of the body’s daily requirements. Deficiencies do occur in which case supplementation may be recommended. Swiss chard, other green leafy vegetables and peanuts are good food sources.

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