B vitamins fall under the class of 8 key nutrients, each having a unique role in the human body. However, the bad news is that many individuals suffer from its deficiency. Vitamin B deficiency refers to having low levels of this spectrum of nutrients. A Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to various complications, and sometimes, deficiencies with the other B vitamins list can take weeks or months to correct. It is vital to get tested early and ensure you’re eating the right vitamin B foods to prevent this from happening. Here is everything you need to know about B group vitamin deficiencies, symptoms, risks, and how to avoid them.
Who is at Risk of Suffering from vitamin B Deficiency?
Here is a list of who may be at risk of suffering from vitamin B deficiencies:
- Those who have sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or AIDS
- Type-2 Diabetics
- Individuals who consume too much alcohol
- Seniors, elderly individuals, and anyone with heart failure symptoms
- Those who have undergone bariatric surgery recently
- Individuals who do not eat any dairy products or follow a strict plant-based diet
- Athletes who do not eat meat
- Pregnant women who are vegan
- Individuals who are malnourished, suffer from anorexia nervosa, and Hartnup disease
- Anyone with AIDS and alcohol use disorder (AUD)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Individuals diagnosed with Carcinoid syndrome
Vitamin B5 deficiency is extremely rare, and only those individuals with a pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) two mutations are known to have this.
B6 vitamin deficiency is often associated with conditions such as renal disease, autoimmune disorders, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Pregnant or lactating women, anyone with alcohol use disorder, and individuals with metabolic disorders are at risk.
Those who abuse alcohol, have irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and any health conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption suffer from Vitamin B9 deficiency.
Individuals who have recently had gastric bypass or stomach surgery, celiac disease, and seniors, exhibit Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. Additionally, long-term vegans who have not used Vitamin B12 supplements are also at risk.
What are the Symptoms of B vitamins Deficiency?
Keep in mind that B vitamin deficiency symptoms may vary from person to person. No individual is the same, and everybody’s nutritional requirements are different. If you’re wondering what the symptoms of B vitamin deficiency are, check out the complete list for your reference:
Deficiency is often associated with weight loss, muscle atrophy, mood and memory problems, lack of appetite, and poor reflexes. Individuals may also suffer from heart problems and get a tingling or numb sensation in the hands and feet.
Vitamin B2 deficiency is marked by skin disorders, hair loss, red itchy eyes, inflammation in the throat or mouth, and cracked lips.
Symptoms of Vitamin B3 deficiency are depression, rough patchy skin, skin discolouration, reddish tongue, diarrhoea, and constipation.
Vitamin B5 deficiency is characterised by headaches, loss of appetite, irritability, insomnia, and restlessness.
Vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms range from anaemia, swelling in the tongue, scaly lips, depression, confusion, and a weak immune system.
Fatigue, brittle nails, hair fall, and depression are the telltale signs you’re low in Vitamin B7.
Those who have a Vitamin B9 deficiency experience problems such as general weakness, mouth sores, heart palpitations, irritability, and headaches. These symptoms may also accompany hair, nails, and skin changes.
Common vitamin B12 deficiency signs are depression, lack of appetite, fatigue, trouble remembering or recollecting, numbness in hands and feet, and constipation.
What Blood Tests Get Done to Diagnose a vitamin B Deficiency?
Your healthcare provider or doctor may ask you to go through the following blood tests to rule out a vitamin B deficiency:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) with peripheral smear
- Methylmalonic Acid (MMA) test
- Folate, Vitamin B12, and homocysteine blood tests
Common Reasons for vitamin B Deficiencies
There are many reasons for vitamin B deficiencies, and the most common ones are as follows:
1. Eating a Junk Food Diet
The Standard American Diet (SAD) or any diet comprising junk foods is known to cause vitamin B deficiencies. Processed foods are unhealthy and devoid of nutrients, thus depleting the body of essential vitamins with increased consumption.
The body cannot make vitamin B on its own, so you must consume it in food. The best sources of vitamin B foods are raw dairy, hard cheeses, grass-fed meats, seafood, and eggs. Vitamin B12 is not found in plant-based sources, but solely in animal products. Experts may argue that there are some plant-based sources, but their amounts are not significant enough to meet the daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) requirements.
2. Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Too much alcohol consumption can rob the body of its precious vitamin B stores, and vitamin B gets flushed out and depleted when individuals overconsume alcohol. Alcohol is also bad for the liver, weakens the immune system, and does not get processed well by the human body.
3. Gut Malabsorption Problems
Vitamin B is absorbed directly by the gut, and any gut problems can lead to malabsorption issues. People with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis are prone to this. Vitamin B12 gets absorbed by the gut and enters the bloodstream, so if your stomach is not functioning well, you can expect a significant deficiency later.
Certain medications may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and transport vitamin B. For more information on this, talk to your healthcare professional.
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If you eat a healthy and balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly, chances are, you may not be at risk of developing a vitamin B deficiency. Your overall energy levels determine the quality of life, thus revealing any signs or symptoms of vitamin B deficiencies. If you are worried, you can constantly get tested to see if your vitamin B levels are optimal.
Taking a supplement without finding out if you have drug interactions is dangerous. If you are on any medications, talk to your healthcare professional and do blood work before starting your vitamin supplement regime.
You can prevent a vitamin B deficiency by eating a healthy, balanced, and natural diet. Steer clear of processed foods and ensure you eat a wide variety of clean foods. Good foods to eat are fortified cereals, whole grains, organ meats, legumes, oatmeal, Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, dairy products, and nuts.
Beef liver is one of the top sources of Vitamin B12. Try to eat it at least once a week. Lamb liver also works just as well.
Seafood contains an array of essential vitamins, including the B complex vitamins. The best sources are cod liver, tuna, oysters, sardines, and lobsters.
You should get tested if you avoid eating animal products, have low energy, or any of the associated vitamin B deficiency symptoms on our list above.