Vitamin B complex comprises of a group of vitamins – Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. These are all water-soluble and cannot be stored nor made in the body. So if this is present in excess in the body, it just gets removed dissolved in the urine. Hence, we need to consume it in our diet everyday to keep up with the score! So let us first have a look at Vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine
What does it do?
Vitamin B6 is necessary for the body to convert the food we consume into energy. It is also important for the body to fight infections. For pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, it is essential for the infant’s normal brain growth and development.
Where can you get it (in food)?
Vitamin B6 is found in fish, vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas, spinach), live, non-citrus fruits, cereal grains, cheese, milk, eggs, meat, and legumes. Vitamin B6 is often used in combination with other B vitamins in the vitamin B complex.
Why do we need it?
Lack of Vitamin B6 can lead to anaemia and at times, skin disorders, like cracks or rashes around the area of the mouth. A deficiency can also be a reason for confusion, depression or lack of immunity (susceptible to infections)
How can you identify if you have the deficiency?
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Short-term memory loss
When does this deficiency occur?
Deficiencies can be seen in those having complications of kidney failure, liver scarring, alcoholism, hyperthyroid cases, people with nutrition absorption problems etc. A mild deficiency of this vitamin is pretty common among individuals.
Vitamin B12 or Cobalamine
What it does?
Vitamin B12 is needed by the body to regulate the central nervous system. It also important because it is essential for growth as well as formation of RBCs (red blood cells)
Which foods contain it?
Vitamin B12 is found in meat and in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and this can become problematic for strict vegetarians or vegans.
What happens if you don’t get enough?
Vitamin B12 deficiencies can result in anaemia and confusion in older people.
When does it occur?
Psychological problems such as paranoia, dementia, paranoia, depression, and behavioral problems can occur due to a deficiency of vitamin B12. This deficiency also occurs in conditions such as:
- Pernicious anaemia – inability to absorb Vitamin B12
- Gastritis – where the stomach lining has become thin
- Surgery resulting in removal of a part of the stomach or small intestine
- Conditions that can affect the small intestine like Celiac disease, a parasite or bacteria and Crohn's disease,
- Excessive drinking
What are the symptoms?
Deficiency of vitamin B12 can result in anemia. While a mild deficiency may not have any symptoms, if left untreated, it can may advance and result in symptoms like:
- Weakness, tiredness
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Constipation, diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite, or gas
- Tingling or numbness
- Muscle weakness,
- Having problems with walking
- Vision loss
How will you know if you have a deficiency?
In both the cases, all it takes to find out is a simple blood test. You can use these.
How can this deficiency be treated?
Vitamin supplements are usually recommended but these supplements must not be self-medicated, instead they should be taken only under the advice of a physician.
by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.