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Lack of B vitamins causes a myriad of symptoms

- here is a check list with 15 typical signs

Lack of B vitamins causes a myriad of symptomsAll B vitamins work together as a close-knit team, and they are involved in most of the body’s enzymatic processes. For that reason, lacking one or several B vitamins may cause a long list of different symptoms. We humans depend on a regular supply of B vitamins. A wholesome smoothie or a multivitamin in the morning is no guarantee that the body has enough B vitamins for the rest of the day. Add to that the fact that some factors can impair our nutrient absorption and increase our need for B vitamins. But if you keep your body adequately supplied with B vitamins at all times throughout life, it can work wonders.

Do you feel tired and indisposed, do you sleep poorly, or do you have any other of the symptoms listed below, it often does you more good to optimize your vitamin B intake than to take stimulants and unnecessary medication that fails to address the underlying causes.
Having low levels of individual B vitamins affects your body in different ways, as each of the different B vitamins has so many functions. B vitamins are needed to ensure optimal functioning of your brain, your nervous system, and your skin. All of the following symptoms can be a result of getting too little of one or several B vitamins:

  1. Tiredness and apathy
  2. Poor concentration and forgetfulness
  3. Sadness
  4. Blood deficiency
  5. Poor sleep
  6. Nervousness and irritability
  7. Constipation and irritable bowel
  8. Skin and hair problems
  9. Dry lips and cracked corners of the mouth
  10. Prickling and tingling sensation in fingers and toes
  11. Uneasy muscles
  12. Muscle weakness and loss of muscle mass (atrophy)
  13. Headaches
  14. Nausea and lack of appetite
  15. Fluid retention

Other factors may cause the different symptoms, so it is advisable to see your doctor. Still, it is a good idea to make sure to get enough of all the different B vitamins. A blood test can determine if you need extra vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin B12.

The names of the different B vitamins

Click here to read about the different B vitamins

Why is it so easy to become vitamin B-deficient?

We get B vitamins from green and coarse foods such as whole-grain oatmeal, legumes, vegetables, fruit, brown rice, garlic, nuts, seeds, kernels, seaweed and brewer’s yeast (a particularly rich source of B vitamins). We also get B vitamins from liver, meat, and fish.
The industrial processing of food (husking, grinding, and preserving) and the process of cooking, baking, and frying deplete the raw materials of their B vitamin content. The following factors are also able to increase your risk of lacking one or several B vitamins:

  • An unhealthy diet that contains too few of the good B vitamin sources
  • Weak stomach acid and impaired intestinal flora that can impair nutrient absorption
  • Ageing processes that impair the body’s ability to produce intrinsic factor that is needed for the absorption of vitamin B12
  • Vegetarian and vegan diets (mainly a problem in relation to vitamin B12)
  • Overconsumption of sugar, soft beverages, and white flour
  • Daily consumption of more than 4-5 cups of coffee and/or black tea
  • Overconsumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy (especially folic acid)
  • Birth control pills)
  • Diuretics and antacids
  • Methotrexate for treating rheumatism and cancer (mainly in relation to folic acid)
  • Metformin for treating type 2 diabetes (mainly in relation to vitamin B12)
Deficiency symptoms often occur as a result of our modern lifestyle with too much refined food, sugar, stimulants, stress, and the use of several types of medicine.

We are unable to survive without B vitamins

All B vitamins are essential. We depend on a constant supply of these vitamins, as they are water-soluble and the body therefore does not store them. The B vitamins support different enzymes that are necessary for cellular energy turnover and for the following functions:

  • brain and nervous system
  • reduction of fatigue
  • blood cells
  • hormone system
  • immune system
  • digestion
  • skin and hair
  • muscles
  • several B vitamins work as antioxidants

Did you know that lack of B vitamins may speed up dementia and the ageing process.

Recent studies reveal why B vitamins are important for our mental health

Researchers have shown that B vitamins affect our mental health, including memory and cognition. This is especially relevant for vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12. Taking supplements of B vitamin can increase your vitality and help you in mentally challenging situations, thereby reducing the subjective feeling of stress. This was clearly demonstrated in a study from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, where scientists used for the first time ever a special technique to monitor the flow of blood through the brain.
Epidemiological studies show that a diet without vitamin B3 is associated with aggression and an increased rate of homicide and suicide among humans, and cannibalism among animals. Vitamin B deficiencies during pregnancy increase the risk of miscarriage, fetal damage, disruptions of the child’s emotional development, and diabetes.
Other studies show that a simple vitamin B12 deficiency may explain some of the cases of malfunctioning seniors who are diagnosed with dementia.
Several studies have even shown that large vitamin B dosages can slow down mild cognitive impairment, which is an early stage of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A more recent study suggests that B vitamins become even more effective when you also get enough of the important omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which are found in fish oil.

B vitamins support various brain functions and protect the cells

Scientists have discovered that B vitamins play an important role in the brain and nervous system by supporting

  • cerebral blood flow
  • the production of neurotransmitters
  • the maintenance of myelin, the protective lipid-containing sheath that surrounds the nerve cells
  • normal, healthy communication between the brain and neurons
  • the synthesis and breakdown of brain chemicals that affect our mood
  • antioxidant mechanisms that protect brain cells
  • the repair of damaged brain cell DNA

Vitamin B supplements

Most B vitamins work in combination in the body. For that reason, it is a good idea to take them combined as a complex with a main meal. You can always take extra amounts of single B vitamins if they are needed in larger quantities. Because B vitamins are water-soluble, it is advisable to take the supplements with different main meals in order to get the optimal effect. Excess B vitamins are excreted in the urine and may cause your urine to turn increasingly yellow.
Avoid taking B vitamins together with antacids that can impair the absorption of the vitamins.
People with pernicious anemia require vitamin B12 injections


University of Leicester. People with forms of early-onset Parkinson’s disease may benefit from boosting niacin in diet, research suggest. ScienceDaily. 2017

Penberthy. WT. Niacin rescues cannibalistic hamsters. The historical significance of 1940s mandatory niacin enrichment. OMS 2017

Mawson A, Jacobs K. Corn consumption, tryptophan, and cross-national homicide rates. Orthomolecular Psychiatry 1978

Gary Scattergood: Vitamin B clinical trials first to use neuroimaging technology. 2016

Oulhaj et al: Omega-3 Fatty Acid Status Enhances The Prevention of Cognitive Decline by B-vitamins in Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2016

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