The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Electric Brain

What are the Best B Vitamins for Energy?

You’ve all heard the urban legend that B vitamins give you energy.

You’re probably reading this article to find out which are the best B vitamins for energy, aren’t you?

The truth is, B vitamins are organic compounds that support energy metabolism.  Do they produce energy?  Not quite.  But they do make it possible for us to use energy sources.

And make no mistake, if B vitamins are lacking, you’ll definitely feel tired.

B vitamins are also crucial for many functions in the brain.  Vitamin B6, for example, is a requirement for the production of several neurotransmitters.

Research has shown that B Vitamins as nootropics help improve mental energy, memory, focus, neuroplasticity, physical endurance, and mood.

They also play a part in regulating sleep patterns and immune function, as well as the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and depression.

In particular, researchers have found that vitamins B6, B9, and B12 provide the most benefit for cellular metabolism and overall cognitive enhancement.

So when we talk about the best B Vitamins for energy, we are usually thinking of these ‘Three Amigos’.

Now that we have an idea of how B Vitamins indirectly benefit physiological and neurological activity, let’s look at how they do the wonderful things they do.

B Vitamins for General Health – Mechanisms of Action

Vitamins are a group of organic compounds the body needs to function normally, but they’re not synthesized by the body.  Scientists believe this is an evolutionary adaptation.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Evolution

Since vitamins are common in most foods, and it would require extra energy to create them ‘in-house’, the human body simply stores them for later use.

I find this kind of ironic, because nowadays people in developed countries are eating junk food all the time, and they can’t get enough micro nutrients from their diet.

So they have to take supplements just to avoid any deficiencies, and stay relatively healthy.  And obesity always seems to be spreading like an evil virus.  What the heck?

But I digress.  Moving on.

There are 13 vitamins in total, 4 fat soluble, and 9 water soluble.

The fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K.  The water soluble vitamins are vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12.

The fat soluble vitamins can only be absorbed by the body in the presence of some kind of fat, hence the name.  They can also be stored.

The water soluble vitamins are easily absorbed without any help, but they constantly get flushed out in the urine.

In fact, the turnover rate for B Vitamins is in the range of 10% to 100% daily, and is closely monitored through various mechanisms in the body.

The only exception is vitamin B12.  It is a water soluble vitamin, but the body can tuck some of it away for a rainy day.

So the take away here is that we need to get all of the water soluble vitamins every day, whether it’s from foods we eat, or supplements.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Water Soluble Vitamins

The most important role B Vitamins perform is acting as co-enzymes in metabolic reactions that process energy in the body.

If you weren’t skipping chemistry class on the wrong day, you might still remember the ‘Citric Acid Cycle’, or the ‘Kreb’s Cycle’ from high school.

Basically the Kreb’s cycle starts with a raw energy source (acetyl CoA), and ends with it being converted to ATP, or Adenosine Triphosphate.

ATP is to the body what a dollar is to the economy.  ATP holds energy in chemical bonds that can be used by the brain and other major organs to fuel all of their activities.

I should also mention that the Kreb’s cycle happens inside mitochondria.  Mitochondria are like tiny cells inside our cells, and they are the energy processing plants in our bodies.

The human brain burns a lot of calories, accounting for only 2% of our body weight, but spending over 20% of our energy budget.

Not surprisingly, brain cells are absolutely packed with mitochondria.

The next most important functions of B Vitamins are facilitating the synthesis of essential structures like:

  • DNA
  • RNA
  • Red Blood Cells
  • Myelin Sheathing
  • Neurotransmitters

There are other very important functions that the B vitamins perform, like regulating certain aspects of the immune system, protecting the body from free radicals, and preventing inflammation.

But at this point I want to focus our attention on how Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 benefit neurological function.

B6, B9, and B12 as Nootropics

Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 are considered the superstars among the B vitamins when it comes to enhancing cognition.

This is mainly due to the ‘Homocysteine Hypothesis’.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that irritates blood vessel linings, and increases oxidative stress at the blood-brain barrier.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Blood Vessel

Elevated levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream have been shown to be a consistent indicator of increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.

Homocysteine levels typically rise with age, and are especially high after age 65.  General cognitive decline is also closely tied to homocysteine in older individuals.

Fortunately, B6, B9, and B12 all have the ability to break down homocysteine, and reduce any negative impact.

This triad of B Vitamins also promotes the release of Nitric Oxide, which acts as a vasodilator.  When cerebral blood flow is improved, more oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to mitochondria.

The end result is accelerated energy production and faster removal of metabolic waste.  In other words, the brain starts operating more cleanly and efficiently.

Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 can also stabilize mood by maintaining optimal neurotransmitter levels.  They essentially keep the symptoms of depression at bay.

Those are the benefits for neurological function that these 3 share.

Now lets get a little more specific and look at the unique advantages they are able to offer individually.

Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine

B6 is so important to brain function that it is 100 times more concentrated in the brain than it is in the bloodstream.

It’s a building block for the neurotransmitters Dopamine, Epinephrine, GABA, Norepinephrine, Seratonin, and the hormone Melatonin.

Dopamine, Seratonin, and Norepinephrine are Natures’ ‘Happy Pills’.  In addition to being essential to healthy cognitive function, they regulate mood.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Happy

Vitamin B6 deficiency is therefore closely tied to mental decline and depression.

GABA is a neurotransmitter best known for it’s ability to slow down the nervous system by blocking the excitatory neurotransmitter Glutamate.

Melatonin concentration in the brain increases gradually throughout the day to let the body know that it’s time to go to sleep.

When GABA and Melatonin levels are too low, anxiety and agitation can set in.  It’s also common to see sleep cycles get disrupted.

Vitamin B6 also provides structural support by promoting the growth of myelin.

Myelin is a protein that grows on the outside of nerve fibers and brain cell membranes.  It acts as a conductor for the delivery of nerve signals.

If you can imagine, nerve fibers are almost like a wire turned inside out, with the conducting material (the myelin) on the outside instead of the inside.

When myelin sheaths don’t form properly, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis can be the result.

Vitamin B9 – Folate

B9 is about 4 times as concentrated in the brain as it is in the bloodstream, and it acts as a catalyst for the production of Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, and Seratonin.

Naturally, folate helps regulate mood, and folate deficiency is closely associated with symptoms of depression.

Folate is also important for expecting mothers because a lack of folate can result in spina bifida, a condition where the spine of a fetus is deformed.

In 1998, after realizing that more folate in the diet could reduce the incidence of spinal tube defects in children, they started putting folic acid into foods as a preventative method.

However, it was later realized that folic acid is not the same as true folate.  If you are expecting, I recommend you find a good prenatal supplement with folate or methylfolate in it, not folic acid.

And you can also eat more food naturally rich in folate.  Green leafy vegetables like spinach, liver, broccoli, asparagus, and brussel sprouts are among the foods with the highest folate levels.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Pregnant

I should mention that folate depends on B12 to be effective in certain metabolic processes, so a B12 deficiency can lead to folate getting “stuck”, and not being able to function.

For example, the creation of new red blood cells is one of the functions that folate and B12 share, and both need to be present in adequate amounts to prevent anemia.

The same goes for the production of DNA and RNA.  When B9 and B12 are lacking, the re-coding process can’t be performed properly.

The end result is that brain cell reproduction slows down, and neurons start dying prematurely.

Vitamin B12 – Cobalmin

Vitamin B12 is also known as Cobalmin, because it has cobalt in it, and it’s used to synthesize Dopamine, GABA, Norepinephrine, and Seratonin.

Just like B6 and B9, vitamin B12 improves mental energy, overall cognition, sleep patterns, and mood.  It also aids in the prevention of depression.

Some of the other major functions of B12 are as follows:

  • Red Blood Cell Formation
  • DNA/RNA Reproduction
  • Myelin Regrowth & Repair
  • Brain Cell Regeneration

I have already mentioned that B9 and B12 work together to synthesize new red blood cells, DNA, and RNA.

2 functions that B12 can facilitate on its’ own without the presence of folate are myelin and brain cell regrowth.

Myelin repair results in more efficient conduction of nerve impulses, which in turn explains how B12 enhances neuroplasticity and brain signaling.

B12 also provides some gains in overall cognition because of new brain cell growth.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Brain Cell

The ability to absorb B12 can decline with age, so older individuals need to look out for signs of B12 deficiency, which include:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory Issues
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Poor Vision

Now that we have looked at vitamins B6, B9, and B12 as individual micro nutrients, let’s think about how to supplement with them for best results.

B Vitamin Dosages – Deficiency vs Toxicity

The first thing I have to mention here is that the RDA, or ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’ for any nutrient is based on an estimate of the minimum amount of that substance you need to remain healthy.

How much you need also depends on your sex, age, and body weight.  The National Academy of Sciences crunches collects data and crunches some numbers, and at the end of it all, they take their best guess.

But if your goal is not just mere survival, you are now trying to find the upper limit for the nutrients you need, not the lower limit.  That changes the rules of the game significantly.

That being said, I will provide a range of recommended dosages for B6, B9, and B12 for easy reference.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Bottle of B Vitamins

All 3 vitamins are very well tolerated.  The only time you should experience side effects is if you exceed the maximum recommended dosages.

Some of the possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Tingling
  • Sleepiness

If you have any issues, stop taking your supplement, and talk to your doctor.

So without further ado, here they are in all their wonderful glory:

  • B6 – 1 mg-2.5 mg/day
  • B9 – 100 mcg-500 mcg/day
  • B12 – 1 mcg-25 mcg/day for people 18-50 years old/25-100 mcg for people 50+

Folate needs to be taken in larger doses by pregnant or breastfeeding women, so they should be aiming for 500-600 mcg/day; closer to the upper limit.

I also need to mention that there is a significant difference between folate and folic acid.  They are very similar in their structures, but they are metabolized differently by the body.

According to one study, approximately 60% of Americans cannot absorb folic acid efficiently due to genetic variations, and therefore can experience B9 deficiency even while taking folic acid supplements.

Furthermore, the unprocessed folic acid can build up in their blood, causing other health issues.

What you need to take away from this is that folic acid is not the same as folate, and you should try and make sure your supplements have folate in them for best results.

Vitamin B12 is also kind of special because the ability to absorb it diminishes with age, and by the time people get over 50, they need to take a lot more to maintain optimal health.

If you are over 50 years old, and feel you need to go closer to the upper limit of 100 micrograms/day to see any appreciable benefit, you can raise your dosage gradually.

And when in doubt, please talk to your doctor.  They will be able to make recommendations tailored to your specific situation.

Well, that’s everything I wanted to cover concerning dosages and side effects.

Let’s wrap things up, shall we?

Best B Vitamins for Energy – Final Comments

B vitamins are required co-factors for several reactions in the body related to energy metabolism.  Without them, we can experience fatigue, depression, and cognitive decline.

The vitamins B6, B9, and B12 in particular have been the focus of numerous studies because of their ability to break down the amino acid homocysteine.

The Best B Vitamins for Energy - Break Down

This helps keep blood vessel walls healthy, and significantly lowers the risk of heart disease or the onset of neurodegenerative disorders.

B6, B9, and B12 are also needed for the production of several key neurotransmitters that can help maintain optimal brain function.

The symptoms of depression, and disturbed sleep cycles can be prevented by ensuring adequate levels of these 3 vitamins.

The best way to do this is with supplements, as the modern day diet is typically rich in calories, but has poor nutritional value.

A decent multi-vitamin can fit the bill for physical well being, and a good nootropic stack like Mind Lab Pro can also work if you want to enhance cognitive function.

Well, that’s all I have for you on the best B vitamins for energy.  I hope you learned a few things as you read this article.

In my next post, I’m going to look at PQQ as a potential nootropic.  It’s well known for it’s anti-aging effects.

You don’t want to miss it!

 

Michael

P.S. – Sharing is caring!  Forward this post to a friend if you think they should read it.

 

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18 thoughts on “What are the Best B Vitamins for Energy?”

  1. Hello Michael,

    I never understood the difference between fat and water soluble vitamins. Good to know.  Thank you for explaining that!

    I’ve been hearing about B vitamins for a while, and I have all the symptoms associated with B vitamin deficiency, so I found reading this really helpful.

    You do a great job of laying out what these vitamins do, and how they help.

    I have heard that the synthetic form of folate (B9), folic acid found in most supplements can’t be absorbed by the body as well as the natural form. Do you have any recommendations there?

    Shanna

    Reply
    • Hi Shanna,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  I really appreciate your interest!

      You are right.  A lot of people can’t absorb folic acid as well as folate, so I recommend finding a supplement that has actual folate in it, or methylfolate.

      Folate and folic acid are very similar, but not exactly the same, so they get metabolized differently.  Some people don’t produce enough of the enzyme required to metabolize folic acid in their liver.

      It just depends on their individual genetics.

      I think this article does a better job of explaining the difference than I can fit into my post, so please give it a read for your own benefit.

      Thanks once again for sharing your thoughts, and asking a great question!

      Michael

      Reply
  2. Hey Michael,

    Great information, thanks for putting this post together!

    I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink energy drinks, which have B vitamins in them.  I’ve been told that energy drinks aren’t good for you because of all the other ingredients.

    What do you think makes energy drinks bad for you, even though they have B vitamins in them?

    Darnell

    Reply
    • Hey Darnell,

      Thanks for reading my post, and wanting to know more about B vitamins for energy.

      The problem with energy drinks is that they increase your blood pressure to dangerous levels.  Ingredients like taurine, caffeine, and guarana all do the same thing; raise your blood pressure.

      I don’t think I have to tell you, raising your blood pressure too high can cause all kinds of concerns for your health.  The biggest issues are irregular heart beat, dehydration, and problems sleeping.

      But if you want to look at the risks of energy drinks in more depth, this is a good article to read.

      Thanks once again for your interest, and please leave another comment if you have more questions.

      Michael

      Reply
  3. Hi Michael,

    This is a very comprehensive article on the benefits of B6, B9, and B12 for energy and cognition.

    I knew they aided healthy metabolism, but that’s about all I understood about their functions.  I’m happy to have learned more about the specifics on each of them.

    I’ve been having a little trouble sleeping and forgetting things, so I might give this vitamin B complex a try.

    Thanks Coach!

    Monika

    Reply
    • Hey Monika,

      You’re more than welcome!  I love helping people as much as possible!

      The line between nootropics and traditional multi-vitamins is getting more and more blurry every day, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

      This complex of B vitamins is a perfect example of how a few regular vitamins are good not just for our general health, but our brain function as well.

      Thanks for reading, and if you think of any questions later, just post another comment.

      Michael

      Reply
  4. This is exactly what I needed to know in terms of B vitamins, as I have been feeling the work from home affect quite a lot lately, and needed to boost my energy and mood.

    I’ll give them a try.

    Many thanks for helping so many of the people out there who need this so much right now.

    Habib

    Reply
    • Hello Habib,

      You are most welcome!

      And if you know of anyone who might benefit from giving this article a read, just use a social share button of your choice to spread the love!

      Michael

      Reply
  5. Hi Michael,

    Such an informative post! Well done!

    I’ve experienced first hand the benefits of taking a dose of B12 vitamins, it’s like a little wonder vitamin. It really gave me the energy boost I needed.

    I know a few people who might also be deficient in B vitamins, so I’ll have to share this with them.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Hey Sharon,

      Thanks for your interest in my article.

      Glad you were able to turn things around with some extra B12. And please do share this article with as many friends as you think need to read it.

      You might also be interested in knowing more about Mind Lab Pro. It has B6, B9, and B12 in it, along with a full lineup of top quality nootropics to enhance your brain function and energy.

      If you do read my article, or end up trying Mind Lab Pro, let me know. I would love to find out how it turns out for you.

      Michael

      Reply
  6. Hi Michael,

    I have noticed lately that I have low energy during the day, and sometimes I feel sleepy.  It’s difficult sometimes for me to concentrate on certain tasks.

    On the other hand, I manage to sleep normally in the evening. 

    Thanks to your post, I think I’m going to talk to my doctor about how to use a good B vitamin supplement to boost my energy level! 

    You may have solved my issue with low energy.

    Thank you!

    David

    Reply
    • Hey David,

      Thanks for visiting my site.  Glad I could help!

      If you are interested in boosting your energy and mental capacities at the same time, I can recommend Mind Lab Pro.  It’s a very comprehensive nootropic supplement, and it’s good for beginners.

      You should read my full review on it.  Mind Lab Pro has B6, B9, and B12 in it, along with a whole bunch of other top quality nutrients for enhancing brain function.

      If you do read my article, and decide to give it a try, please let me know how it goes for you.

      Michael

      Reply
  7. Hello there,

    Thank you for this very detailed and informative post.

    I understand that for a post as comprehensive as this, you must have undergone a lot of conscious, calculated, and deliberate effort.

    Honestly, I never knew about the importance and many advantages of B vitamins until I read this post.  Now I know the best B vitamins to incorporate into my diet.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jomata

    Reply
    • Hi Jomata,

      Thanks for taking the time to read up on the B vitamins, and how they can benefit your health.

      What I really want to show my readers is that many nutrients are nootropics, and many nootropics are nutrients, but for the brain.  B6, B9, and B12 all benefit general health, but they are also very important for cognitive function.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and if you think of any questions later, just give me a holler!

      Michael

      Reply
  8. Hello there,

    Thanks for the review.  It was really helpful.

    What I got out of it is, B vitamins are important for making sure the body’s cells are functioning properly.

    They help the body convert food into energy (metabolism), create new blood cells, and these 3 vitamins especially help maintain healthy brain cells.

    Lack of B6, B9, and B12 may result in fatigue, confusion, or heart disease.

    Is that about right?

    Reply
    • Hello Philebur,

      Thank you for reading my post on B vitamins for energy.

      Yes, you got it right.  The main function of B vitamins is to facilitate energy metabolism, and because the brain uses almost 1/3 of the energy we consume each day, several B vitamins are key to healthy brain function.

      B6, B9, and B12 in particular have been found to be essential to several aspects of optimal cognition.

      Glad you liked the article, and if you have any friends that need to read this, please share it!

      The social media buttons on my site make it easy.

      Michael

      Reply
  9. Hello Michael,

    This is just what I needed to hear!

    I take vitamins on a daily basis; everything from vitamin D, vitamin B6, to herbs like Turmeric.

    And now that I have more information on how the B vitamins work, it gives me a better piece of mind. Like you mentioned, B vitamins as Nootropics will help improve your mental energy, memory, focus, neuroplasticity, physical endurance, and mood…that is a HUGE Plus!

    Any vitamin that improves my energy and makes me feel productive in the moment has my full attention, and is worth giving a try. These days, I listen to a lot of audio books to improve my mental health, and stimulate it any way possible.

    I didn’t know you really need B6, B9, and B12 vitamins together to get the best results. I always felt like they are all good.

    But now I can see that these 3 are the key to better cognition. Time for me to go back to the drawing board on that.

    I do need to get better at removing metabolic waste and improving my energy sometimes in the day when my energy is most depleted. This is something I will definitely keep an eye out for!

    Thanks for your great article, I really enjoyed the read!

    -Michael

    Reply
    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post. Really appreciate your enthusiasm!

      If you are interested in providing support for your brain to operate more cleanly, and increase your energy level, I would recommend you read my articles on maritime pine bark and PQQ.

      You might also be interested in reading my review on Mind Lab Pro. It’s an all-in-one nootropic supplement. I think it could really help you out.

      If you have any other questions going forward, just give me a holler!

      Michael

      Reply

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