Vitamin B is an important nutrient, making vitamin B deficiency a serious matter. If you suspect you are in danger of not getting enough, you have every reason to read this article carefully.
The Vitamin B Family
The vitamin B family has several components:
- Vitamin B1 (aka. thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (aka. riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (aka. niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (aka. pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (aka. pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (aka. biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (aka. folic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (aka. cobalamin)
As you can see, they all go by different aliases, which can cause some confusion when they appear in food packaging and in supplements. If the doctor tells you that you need more vitamin B5, you have to know it by its other name, pantothenic acid, since that how it usually appears when browsing the store shelves.
All of the vitamins above come with big health benefits. They help the body with the creation of red blood cells, maintenance of the nervous system, preserve skin and muscle tone, and prevention of certain forms of cancer. They also keep metabolism humming along properly, and they are widely believed to help combat stress and its ill effects on the body. The list benefits go on and on. In other words, this is not something you want to miss out on.
Signs Of Vitamin B Deficiency
On the flip side, the consequences of a vitamin B deficiency are equally unpleasant. Here are the symptoms and effects in order:
Vitamin B1: Berberi, a nervous system disorder that can cause everything from heart palpitations and weight loss to death.
Vitamin B2: Cracked lips, swollen tongue and extreme sensitivity to sunlight.
Vitamin B3: Deficiency contributes to Pellagra, which in turn brings mental sluggishness, severe skin problems, weakness and diarrhea.
Vitamin B5: Acne and numbing of the skin.
Vitamin B6: Skin problems, anemia, bloating and elevated blood pressure.
Vitamin B7: May stunt growth and development in young children.
Vitamin B9: Serious risk of birth defects if a pregnant woman gets deficient. May also contribute to anemia.
Vitamin B12: Nerve damage and mental sluggishness, fatigue, diarrhea, depression and anemia.
Why You Should Play It Safe
All members of the vitamin B family are water-soluble. That means, unlike vitamins like A and D, it is virtually impossible to overdose on them and have the originally beneficial vitamins turn toxic in your body. Instead, your body will simply flush out any excess vitamin B it doesn't need.
Furthermore, vitamin B complex (ie. a supplement that contains all eight varieties listed above) is relatively cheap to the point where you can rest assure you have everything you need for mere cents a day. This is truly a case of having nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If you're uncomfortable with supplements, or simply don't like swallowing pills, know that plenty of foods have vitamin B.
In the off-chance that you have a digestion problem and simply cannot absorb some or all vitamin Bs properly from your food (often as a result of a medical condition), you can even get vitamin B injections. However, that's a topic best discussed with your doctor, if this is your situation, since the vast majority of people are perfectly able to reap the benefits of a vitamin B-rich diet and/or supplementation regimen immediately.