If you’ve been searching for a good quality Vitamin B supplement, no doubt you’ve found the process discouraging! Anyone with any sort of gut imbalance is especially in need since beneficial flora manufacture some of these critical nutrients for us. (1)
It seems that every single brand includes one or more synthetic vitamins even those that claim to be whole-food-based.
Ironically, foods that naturally contain B complex are almost always fortified too.
A good example of this is (nutritional) brewers yeast, which contains folic acid, the synthetic form of folate.
Folic acid can harm the health of those with MTHFR genetic mutations. Estimates are that up to 50% of some ethnicities have at least one variant.
Prenatal vitamins and all multivitamins have this same problem, by the way! Go ahead and look at the label of the bottle you have in the pantry right now. It lists folic acid, doesn’t it?
Thus, buying a whole food form of B complex is no guarantee that you are getting what you think you are getting…natural vitamins ONLY with zero synthetics.
In other words, manufacturers seem to be able to slip one or more lab-derived ingredients in there and still label it a natural B complex.
I’m not exactly sure how they pull this off legally, but as a consumer, you need to be aware it’s happening so you can avoid becoming ensnared in shadowy marketing spin to the detriment of your health.
Natural Vitamin B Complex
What vitamins are contained in B complex anyway? Here are the nine I look for. Note that B17 isn’t usually included in conventional definitions.
- thiamin (vitamin B1)
- riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- niacin (vitamin B3)
- pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- vitamin B6
- biotin (vitamin B7)
- folate (vitamin B9)
- cobalamin (vitamin B12)
- amygdalin (vitamin B17)
Why should you avoid synthetic versions of these vitamins? The reason is that synthetics can cause imbalances or even trigger a health crisis for those with certain genetic mutations.
Researchers have found that natural forms of B vitamins work as well or better than synthetics anyway, so why take the risk just because they’re cheap? (2)
Over the years, as I’ve combed through the dozens of brands of B complex supplements, I’ve discovered that there simply isn’t one that provides all 9 of these nutrients from food sources alone.
However, you can easily get them all by combining!
Here are the three truly natural, unfortified sources of B complex that I have in my home. I like to rotate them so I get everything I need…no synthetics required!
Real Food B Complex
If you prefer to take B complex capsules, Catie’s Whole Food B Complex is a good one to use.
It only contains food and herbs with no sneakily added synthetics. It even contains Vitamin B17, which is next to impossible to find together with other B vitamins.
The only problem with this supplement is that it is plant-based, hence it does not contain any true vitamin B12 (contrary to what the label says).
Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy. Plant forms contain a B12 analog that is not bioavailable to the human body.
To get Vitamin B12 in its natural form, you will need an animal-based supplement.
Liver is the best source of Vitamin B12. While you can certainly eat grass-fed liver once a week to get what you need, other people find it more convenient to take a raw, desiccated liver supplement.
I recommend two brands: Perfect Supplements and Radiant Life because their desiccated liver is un-defatted (nothing removed) and they test to ensure their products are free from glyphosate residue and other impurities.
Unfortified Nutritional Yeast
Another good source of truly natural B vitamins is nutritional yeast.
While it is true that nutritional yeast is an ancient Egyptian source of B complex, most brands today don’t emulate the traditional version!
There are several brands of unfortified yeast currently available. This is the brand I’ve vetted and use.
Hint: it tastes amazing sprinkled on heirloom popcorn!
Is nutritional yeast bad for Candida sufferers? In a word, no.
The yeast is deactivated, so it has no chance to colonize or grow in the intestinal tract.
However, those that have mold allergy may have issues, so steer clear if you are one of these folks.
Finding the Best Vitamin B Complex
Ultimately, to get all the 9 vitamins within the B complex in completely natural form, my examination of the brands out there reveals that you need to supplement with BOTH animal and plant-based whole foods.
Animal food forms of B complex like liver powder are missing Vitamin B17. Similarly, plant-based B complex is missing Vitamin B12.
By choosing your source of B vitamins wisely, this problem is easily remedied by combining Real Food supplements such as the three listed above.
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.