B vitamins are some of the most important building blocks that your body relies on, especially as you get into perimenopause and menopause.
But the reality is that many women are not getting enough, and our hormones, our energy, our productivity, and our health are suffering.
So today I want to take a little bit of time to answer some of the top questions I get about why B vitamins are so important, what they do for your body, and how to make sure your supplement choice is actually going to serve your needs (because guess what? Many of them are a waste of time and money).
Top B Vitamin Questions:
What Do B Vitamins Do?
Another way this question comes to me is from women asking why it’s important to take B vitamins along with your multivitamin.
Your body’s need for B vitamins is consistent both during child-bearing age and through menopause. In fact, many studies show that supplementing can become even MORE important as women approach age 50+ because of their protective benefits.
Your regular, daily multivitamin is not going to deliver all the nutrients you need, in the right proportions or in the ideal forms. Your body just needs more love than that, and that is ok!
B vitamins serve many, many roles in your body. Each one has a unique part to play, but they all work together to balance each other out, activate each other, and ensure your cells have energy.
The main jobs B vitamins hold in your body include:
- Optimizing cellular energy. This is more than just feeling upbeat or energized after a cup of coffee. B vitamins offer the tools for sustained energy because they do the job of turning the food you eat into energy—instead of it being stored as fat.
- Promoting cellular health. The health of your cells determines how your entire body feels. B vitamins help to make sure these tiny structures work like they should by clearing out junk and build-up and supplying them with the energy and nutrients they need.
- Supporting red blood cell health. These are the cells that transport oxygen to your cells and carbon dioxide back to your lungs (a VERY important job). And they can’t do it without B vitamins!
- Enhancing your immune response. Your immune system relies on B vitamins (especially B6) to identify and fight off invaders to keep your body healthy.
- Protecting nervous system and brain function. Mental clarity, energy, mood, and neurological health all depend on B vitamins! Especially as you get older, B vitamins can help protect your brain health and prevent things like memory loss.
- Keeping your eyesight at its peak. Your eyes need vitamin B2 to protect your vision, especially as you get older and your eyes are suffering from the stress of age, strain, and overall stress.
- Managing healthy digestion and appetite. B vitamins help govern lots of processes, and their role in digestion is super important. They help reduce inflammation and make sure you actually are able to get energy from the food you’re eating. They also help trigger your brain to feel full and satisfied after you eat to ward off cravings and overeating.
- Maintaining a healthy pregnancy. B vitamins, especially folate, are critical for the health of mom and baby during pregnancy. Recurrent miscarriages can be a sign of low B vitamins, and not getting enough folate in pregnancy can result in birth defects.
What Are Signs That I need B Vitamin Supplements?
Pretty much all women can benefit from adding an activated B vitamin supplement. It is a simple way to increase your energy and protect long-term health in only seconds every day.
It is especially important to add in a B vitamin supplement if you have chronic gut issues, Crohn’s disease, celiac, or are dealing with any of these symptoms:
- Fatigue and brain fog
- Frequent infections
- Skin rashes
- Numb or tingling hands or feet
- Vertigo or balance problems
- Mouth and tongue soreness
- Depression, irritability, or mood swings
- Headaches or migraines
While each of these things could be signs of other issues as well, adding B vitamins is an easy step to take to try to give your body more of what it needs.
Why Is It Important That They Are “Activated”?
You’ll see the terms “activated” or “methylated” floating around if you spend any time diving into B vitamin research. And that is because this is a crucial criterion to look for in B vitamin supplements!
Methylated B vitamins are simply B vitamins in their activated forms. Many B vitamins on the market are actually inactive forms of the vitamins, which are much cheaper to produce, but harder for your body to use.
Your body has to use a lot more resources to get the benefits from the inactive forms, and your body actually has a limit to how much inactive B vitamin it can even tolerate. Your exact limit depends on your genetics as well as your current level of health, but the sad truth is that many people are simply not able to use their B vitamins correctly when they are taking inactive forms. Some people actually feel worse when having excess inactive B vitamins, due to their body’s inability to use them properly.
Activated or methylated B vitamins (like this one that I recommend) come in a form that your body already recognizes and can immediately put to use.
It takes less energy for your body to process the vitamins, and consequently, your body is able to use much more of the B vitamins than it would have been able to with inactive forms.
Activated forms are better for everyone, but it’s especially critical if you have any type of MTHFR gene mutation (see more on that below).
When Is the Best Time to Take B Vitamins?
I recommend taking B vitamins in the morning daily, and again in the late afternoon if your body seems to be needing more. You’ll feel more energized all day and experience better benefits if you start your day with an activated (or methylated) B complex vitamin (like this one).
Can I Get Enough B Vitamins Through Food?
This is a question that many women ask… and it’s not a cut-and-dry answer.
Yes, B vitamins are found in many foods, including:
- Fortified foods
- Leafy greens
But unfortunately, many of these foods are highly inflammatory for most of us, which means your body doesn’t actually glean the nutrition that you think you’re getting.
Red meats, eggs, dairy, fortified foods, and even legumes (for some people) are all high-risk inflammatory foods that can disrupt your blood sugar, lead to gut imbalance, and prevent you from getting adequate nutrition.
That’s why I prefer to add an activated B vitamin supplement into my daily routine so it’s a no-stress, simple way to ensure I’m getting these key nutrients in a way that I KNOW my body will be able to put to use!
What Is the MTHFR Mutation, and How Does It Change My Needs?
MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, a collection of genetic mutations that can make it harder for your body to absorb and use B vitamins.
This mutation can’t methylate (or activate) B vitamins that you get through food or inactive supplement forms. So if you have it, you absolutely need to be taking a methylated B complex vitamin every single day!
The most common result of MTHFR is low vitamin B levels and high homocysteine levels in your blood, which can be a precursor to migraines, chronic pain/fatigue, recurrent miscarriages, neurological conditions, depression, anxiety, and some cancers.
Along with a B vitamin supplement, supporting your body with regular exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet will help lower homocysteine naturally to protect your health long-term
Many people with MTHFR are also deficient in magnesium (and require more of it than a person without the mutation). Combining methylated B vitamins with an absorbable magnesium supplement can help flip the switch to rebalance your body and get you the nutrients your body has been missing!
(These two supplements make up my Women’s Daily Essentials Bundle—get it right now for 10% off!)
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