There are many forms of vitamin B, all of which have essential functions in the body. There’s some evidence that B vitamins may even boost the immune system, but do they have any effect on the new coronavirus?
This article is for informational purposes only. The current coronavirus outbreak is an ongoing event and certain details may change as new information comes to light.
Do B Vitamins Have a Role in the COVID-19 Pandemic?
However, there is currently no evidence that B vitamins can treat or prevent the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Overall, the best preventive measures you can take against COVID-19 are basic standard precautions, including social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding touching your face.
Why Your Immune System Needs B Vitamins
There are many types of vitamin B, which all have unique functions in the body. Some of the B vitamins that may have important effects on the immune system include:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 
- Vitamin B3 (niacin, nicotinamide) [4, 5, 6]
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) [7, 3]
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal) [7, 2]
- Vitamin B9 (folate, folic acid) 
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin) [9, 10]
Research suggests that B vitamins affect the immune system in several ways, such as:
- Increasing the number of T cells 
- Promoting the activity of macrophages, a type of white blood cell 
- Activating antimicrobial peptides 
- Helping the immune system recognize bacteria 
- Maintaining the effectiveness of natural killer cells 
Research on B Vitamins & Infections
Research on B vitamins and their effect on infections is limited, but there are a few studies that may give us some insight.
For example, a study looking at almost 2,500 Indian children found that the group with the lowest vitamin B9 levels had a 44% higher incidence of lower respiratory tract infections .
According to another study of 51 critically ill patients, supplementation with vitamin B6 can significantly boost T cell numbers, potentially improving the immune response .
One interesting study found that vitamin B2 and UV light can inactivate MERS-CoV (a different type of coronavirus) in blood donor products. In this case, however, vitamin B2 is used to help sensitize the virus to UV light, which is not applicable to infections in the body .
The various B vitamins all have different recommended dosages. Most people get enough B vitamins from their diet, but deficiencies can occur.
Below are the daily recommended intakes for some of the B vitamins mentioned in this article. Note that requirements can differ depending on age and pregnancy status.
- Vitamin B3 – 16 mg for adult men, 14 mg for adult women
- Vitamin B5 – 5 mg for adults
- Vitamin B6 – 1.3 mg for adults between the ages of 19 and 50
- Vitamin B9 – 400 mcg for adults
- Vitamin B12 – 2.4 mcg for adults
Certain B vitamins may boost the immune system, but there is currently no evidence that they can help with the new coronavirus.
Until more research is done, the best preventive measures you can take against COVID-19 are social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding touching your face.
For more information on health benefits, precautions, food sources, and supplements, check out our individual articles on each B vitamin.
- 9 Benefits of Thiamine (Vitamin B1) + Sources, Dosage
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Health Benefits
- Health Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3) + Sources & Dosage
- 5 Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) Benefits + Sources, Dosage
- 13 Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Benefits + Sources, Side Effects
- 15 Vitamin B9 (Folate, Folic Acid) Benefits + Side Effects
- 10 Vitamin B12 Benefits + Foods & Deficiency
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Blood Test: Low & High Levels
For more information on the new coronavirus, check out these articles.