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The types, symptoms of deficiency, diagnosis and foods to take

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Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava

Understand vitamin B.

Your body is made up of trillions of cells that are responsible for your overall growth. They give structure to the body and help absorb nutrients from the food you eat to convert them into energy. They also protect you from various types of diseases and promote the health of every organ, muscle and bone in the body.

Your body is made up of two main types of cells, red blood cells (RBCs) and white blood cells (WBCs). The main function of the red blood cells is to transport oxygen from the lungs to every tissue, cell and organ in exchange for exhaled carbon dioxide. The white blood cells are an essential part of your immune system and help fight diseases and infections that occur when your body is attacked by harmful bacteria, viruses, and germs.

The most important vitamin for your body is vitamin B. It helps determine whether your body cells are functioning properly or not. Vitamin B helps in the formation of new blood cells and helps maintain healthy skin and body tissues and promotes the health of your brain. There are eight types of vitamin B. ie:

Let’s dig a little further into each of these vitamin types to help you understand them better

  • Vitamin B-1: Also known as thiamine, it helps convert carbohydrates into energy, helps contract muscles, and helps send and receive nerve signals.
  • Vitamin B-2: Also known as riboflavin, is responsible for your body’s growth.
  • Vitamin B-3: Also known as niacin. It helps in maintaining the health of your skin, nervous system, and digestive system.
  • Vitamin B-5: Also known as pantothenic acid, it is responsible for the formation of blood cells and the conversion of food into energy.
  • Vitamin B-6: Also known as pyridoxine, it helps maintain the health of your nerves, skin, and red blood cells.
  • Vitamin B-7: Also known as biotin, it is responsible for maintaining the health of your hair and nails, promoting a healthy pregnancy, helping convert food into energy, and also helps control your blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin B-9: Also known as folic acid, it helps build healthy red blood cells and treats or prevents folate deficiency. If you are pregnant or could become pregnant, taking folic acid can help prevent serious birth defects such as spina bifida (underdeveloped spinal cord in the unborn child).
  • Vitamin B12: Also known as cobalamin, it is responsible for keeping your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy, making DNA, and protecting you from megaloblastic anemia – a blood disease that causes acute fatigue.

How do you recognize a vitamin B deficiency?

Vitamin B deficiency is a very serious complication that you should not ignore. You must undergo early diagnosis if you have the following symptoms:

  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Skin irritation
  • Stomach upset such as pain, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Small cracks around the mouth from trapped saliva
  • The skin on your lips can become flaky
  • A feeling that you can vomit at any time
  • Swollen tongue
  • Getting angry about little things or feeling depressed
  • Extreme fatigue
  • A persistent feeling of weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mouth ulcers

When the amount of vitamin B in your body increases, you may experience indigestion, mild diarrhea, or even nausea.

The symptoms of vitamin B deficiency and excess are common to various other diseases. Remember, if you have any of the above symptoms, you should not take any medication or vitamin B supplements without your doctor’s approval and undergo a diagnosis to determine the exact cause.

Diagnosing Vitamin B Deficiency

Early diagnosis allows you to take necessary preventive measures and improve your health. A blood test that looks for markers that indicate a B deficiency in your body can help identify a B deficiency.

Foods to increase vitamin B levels

If the diagnosis confirms you are deficient in vitamin B, increasing or consuming the following foods may help improve vitamin B levels.

  • Leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and lettuce
  • Whole grain products like brown rice, barley (jau), millet (bajra), oats and popcorn
  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Eggs, meat, poultry and fish
  • Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons
  • Seed plants such as peas and beans

Final thoughts

Vitamin B is very important to your overall wellbeing as it affects the health of trillions of cells in your body. An improper diet or an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to a deficiency in this important vitamin and health complications such as lack of energy, dementia, neurological damage, Cardiovascular disease, and anemia. However, you can efficiently manage and improve your health by having an early diagnosis that will help pinpoint the exact cause of the symptoms and make a good lifestyle change.

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