Ingredients matter - B vitamins

Back to my ingredients matter series. Supplements are so confusing - tons of products with incomprehensible names and such a range in price for things that look similar. Actually, the ingredients and dosages can vary widely; I use certain nutrients in my formulas - even though they’re more expensive - for good reasons. Let’s look at a few B vitamins. 

Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B6

B2 and B6 are commonly added to supplements in their cheaper, inactive forms, but they’re available as the active form so naturally that’s what I prefer. 

B2 - also called Riboflavin. Riboflavin must first be converted to its active form – Riboflavin-5-Phosphate (R5P) - before it’s used by your body. So I use R5P because it should avoid any issues with absorption and conversion.

B6 - standard supplements use Pyridoxine but the active form is Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P-5-P). Save your liver the work of converting it and go straight for P-5-P!

Folic Acid or Folate?

B9 - Folic Acid. Folate refers to natural vitamin forms as found in food, whereas Folic Acid is a synthetic chemical. Synthetic Folic Acid has to be converted in the liver, but this conversion works poorly for some people, potentially resulting in harmful amounts in circulation. Since Folate is available as a supplement I stick with that (look for Calcium-L-Methylfolate or 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate or 5-MTHF on labels)! Many products still use Folic Acid because it’s much cheaper. You’ll have seen advice to supplement Folic Acid in preparation for pregnancy - Folate counts too (and it’s better!).

Vitamin B12

B12 - commonly as Cyanocobalamin in supplements, but that’s a synthetic structure, whereas Methylcobalamin is bioidentical to a natural food form of B12. So I use Methylcobalamin. More Cyanocobalamin is lost in urine; Methylcobalamin means more B12 gets stored and used from your supplement! 

Supplement labels

Supplement labels can be so confusing. Due to legislation, we have to use specific terms on supplement label nutrient charts (like Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Niacin) which I just told you I DON’T tend to use as ingredients! But you can find out what actual form’s been used in the full ingredients list (e.g Calcium-L-Methylfolate or Riboflavin-5-Phosphate). Look at Pollution Protection ingredients and chart for an example.

So bear in mind: high strength B vitamin complexes may not be the best choice, especially when they use cheaper, sub-optimal forms of the nutrients.

Thanks for reading! Have you tried any of these and noticed a difference in your reaction?