B vitamins are a class of eight water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. In general, dietary supplements which contain all eight B vitamins are known as B complex vitamins. Whereas, individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the name or number of each vitamin: B1 = thiamine, B2 = riboflavin, B3 = niacin, B5 = pantothenic acid, B6 = pyridoxal, B7 = biotin, B9 = folate.
Most of these vitamins can’t be stored by the body, therefore one has to include them regularly in their diet. There is a variety of foods rich in Vitamin B such as meat, fruits, and whole grains. But, not all types of vitamin B have the same role, and different types of vitamin B come from different types of foods.
Having this in mind this, not everyone follows a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. So, if your diet is lacking in certain vitamins, or your body can’t properly absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat vitamin deficiency can develop. Deficiencies of any of these can lead to health problems.
Deficiencies of any of these can lead to health problems. That’s why one has to choose a diet made up of nutrient-rich foods to prevent or treat vitamin deficiencies. That’s why it is important that adequate amounts of vitamins be consumed regularly as part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
Symptoms of vitamin B deficiency
The most common symptoms of vitamin B deficiency, are given below for every individual B vitamins:
Vitamin B1 and B2 deficiency
– Confusion and cracks along the sides of the mouth
Vitamin B3 deficiency
– Digestive problems, such as nausea and abdominal cramps
– Mental confusion
Vitamin B6 deficiency
– Inflammation of the mouth (oral ulcers)
– Skin disorders such as seborrheic dermatitis
– Soreness at the corners of the mouth and chapped lips
– Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
Vitamin B9 deficiency
– Mood changes (irritability, forgetfulness)
– Sore mouth
– Increased risk of birth defect (in pregnancy)
Vitamin B12 deficiency
– Memory lapses
– Unsteadiness and poor muscle coordination
– Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
– Mental confusion and agitation
– Muscle weakness
One of the earliest deficiency syndromes of vitamin B was Beriberi, which is a deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine). The symptoms of beriberi are:
– Weakness and numbness in the feet and legs
– Swelling, difficulty breathing
– Heart failure
There are two types of beriberi. Wet beriberi, which affects the cardiovascular system and dry beriberi, also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which affects the nervous system.
The symptoms of dry beriberi are:
– Difficulty walking
– Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
– Muscle weakness or paralysis
– Nystagmus (eye movements)
– Difficulty speaking
Whereas, additional symptoms of wet beriberi are:
– Shortness of breath
– Swelling in the legs
– Increased heart rate
Another disease which is caused by the lack of vitamin B3 (niacin) is Pellagra.
Symptoms which associates with Pellagra include:
– Hair loss
– Dermatitis and swelling of the skin
– Inflamed tongue
– Dilated cardiomyopathy
Prevention of Vitamin B Deficiency
To prevent Vitamin B Deficiency you don’t necessarily need to take supplements. There is a variety of foods containing all the nutrients you need, therefore, you can take the recommended vitamin B amounts with a complete diet of meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables.
But, sometimes over-the-counter supplements are used to prevent deficiency. Usually, pregnant women or women over the age of 50, are more likely to take vitamin supplements. However, such supplements should only be taken after consulting a doctor.
Best food sources of vitamin B
– Meat (red meat, poultry, fish)
– Whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet)
– Eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese)
– Legumes (beans, lentils)
– Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds)
– Dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kai lan)
– Fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas)
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