The average person suffers from some level of vitamin deficiency. Among the most forgotten micronutrients is the vitamin B complex. This is a group of eight B vitamins responsible for numerous bodily functions including digestion, cell production, brain activity and more.
Vitamin B deficiency is associated with a host of symptoms and health complications that could be dangerous if left untreated. If you need more vitamin B in your life, here are six ways to tell.
- Poor skin health: Vitamin B complex is essential for maintaining cell health and reproduction. Because of this, a person who is deficient in one or more B vitamins might develop rashes and dry, cracked skin, particularly around the mouth. Vitamin B deficiency is also what may cause chronically chapped lips.
- Anemia: Another key role of vitamin B involves red blood cell production. If you’re deficient in B vitamins—specifically vitamin B12—your body isn’t creating enough healthy blood cells. This can lead to a condition called anemia, which occurs when your blood contains either insufficient levels of red blood cells or mutated ones that are harming your health. Common signs of anemia include feeling cold, fatigue, dizziness and a rapid heartbeat. Anemic patients are often advised to make dietary changes when a vitamin B deficiency is the underlying cause.
- Fatigue: B vitamins are also responsible for maintaining high energy levels. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that fatigue and weakness are among the most common signs of vitamin B deficiency. However, being tired all the time doesn’t automatically mean you’re deficient in vitamin B. Check with your doctor to make sure this symptom isn’t a sign of something worse.
- Numb limbs: Vitamin B complex helps regulate the nervous system. These micronutrients make sure your nerve endings react appropriately to the external environment. People who are deficient in B vitamins might experience a numb or tingly sensation in their hands and feet.
- Digestive problems: A full range of B vitamins is necessary in order to regulate the digestive tract. Vitamin B aids in the absorption of other micronutrients in the small intestine. Therefore, the vitamin B complex is a must for protecting your overall health and the organs that depend on proper nutrient absorption. Signs of a vitamin B deficiency include stomach cramps and recurring instances of both constipation and diarrhea. Everyone experiences an upset stomach at some point, but if this happens almost daily, it’s time to see a doctor.
- Poor mental health: Vitamin B complex affects more than your physical health. These nutrients maintain proper brain function and can make or break your mood. Those with a vitamin B deficiency tend to experience lower mental wellbeing compared to people who follow the recommended daily intake of vitamin B complex. Common symptoms include confusion, a lack of focus, irritability and even depression. Much like the other symptoms of vitamin B deficiency, poor mental health can indicate a slew of other health problems, so it’s important to take seriously.
Why you should do something about it
The symptoms of vitamin B deficiency might seem like nothing to worry about at first. It’s easier to attribute indigestion to one bad meal or fatigue to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, the unfortunate reality is that many people go their whole lives without realizing they’re missing out on some essential micronutrients. By the time you learn you are vitamin B deficient, the damage may already be done. A diet low in B vitamins can have serious health consequences.
For example, if you experience tingling hands and feet frequently, it could be more serious than you think. Vitamin B deficiency is often a precursor to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This disease affects the peripheral nervous system, which consists of all your limbs, including hands and feet. In other words, that numb and tingly feeling might be the start of peripheral nerve damage.
It’s particularly important for pregnant women to monitor their daily intake of vitamin B complex because those nutrients play a vital role in fetal development. In fact, deficient levels of folic acid have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects. Vitamin B deficiency might also lead to preeclampsia, which can prove fatal for both the mother and the baby.
It’s easy to let your vitamin B levels fall to the wayside. The good news is it’s just as simple to make them part of a healthy diet. Your recommended daily intake will depend on your current health conditions and whether or not you plan to become pregnant in the future. With some guidance from a doctor, you can get your health back on track.