We were always told to have ‘balanced diets’ with all the ‘nutrients and vitamins’. People talked about it at home, in school and even on the television. From vitamin A, to B and C, they are indeed important. While some vitamin deficiencies are becoming less common in developed and developing countries, others can still be found, mostly in vulnerable individuals. Vitamin B complex is a group of vitamins that serves critical functions in the human body. So what are some vitamin B deficiency symptoms?
We need to be aware that there are several different types of vitamin B. These are vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. Each of them, while being in the same group, play different roles in metabolic processes within our body. People who are more prone for vitamin B deficiency are usually the elders, pregnant women and individuals with alcoholism or gut problems.
Vitamin B1, or thiamine, can be gained from whole grains, meat and also fish. In some countries, vitamin B1 is added to some food such as breads, cereals and in infant formula as a way to prevent its deficiency within the population. This vitamin helps in the release of energy from carbohydrates, apart from its role in muscle and nervous system function. Lack of thiamine intake can lead to confusion, lack of appetite and also more serious conditions such as beriberi that manifests with muscle wasting, disrupted sensory and motor functions.
Next is vitamin B2, or riboflavin. Food such as eggs, meat, liver, milk and green vegetables are rich with it. Like thiamine, there are also riboflavin-fortified food products like grains and cereals. Its deficiency is rare, but can give rise to cracked lips and angular stomatitis that can be identified as lesions at the corners of the mouth.
Niacin is vitamin B3, the third member of the vitamin B family. It serves as aid in the energy production and regulation of blood sugar level. Some examples of niacin sources are meat like beef, liver and pork, fish, anchovies, nuts and whole grains. Deficiency of vitamin B3 may cause irritability, fatigue and poor appetite. This may lead to pellagra that can come with dementia, dermatitis, diarrhea and eventually death.
Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid. It is an essential nutrient involved in the body metabolism to produce energy. Since this vitamin is present in most food, its deficiency is rare. Vitamin B6, the pyridoxine, has roles in protein metabolism, blood sugar regulation and in the production of neurotransmitter chemicals acting as signals in the nervous system. It is also an important part in the red blood cell formation. You can get vitamin B6 through fish like tuna and salmon, liver, potatoes and fruits. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause anemia, dermatitis, depression and confusion. It is uncommon and usually associated with other vitamin deficiency.
Another member of the vitamin B family is biotin, the B7. Vitamin B7 is mostly known for its benefit to promote healthy hair, skin and nails. Its deficiency can lead to the opposite – hair loss and thinning of hair, brittle nails and skin rashes. You can get biotin from fish, meat, sweet potatoes, avocados and nuts.
Vitamin B9, folate and B12, cobalamin are the last 2 types of vitamin B. Folate can be found in green leafy vegetables and meat. It is needed in the production of red cells and to prevent birth defects in babies. Meanwhile, cobalamin can be found mostly in meat, milk, cheese and eggs. Both of these vitamins can cause anemia if deficient. B12 deficiency can also cause confusion and dementia.