Vitamin B is necessary for the healthy growth and the regulation of many bodily functions. The B complex consists of eight vitamins that each serve a specific purpose. Deficiencies in B vitamins may cause a host of symptoms. Unfortunately, a deficiency can exist for some time before symptoms become apparent. The best defense is to eat a balanced diet high in fruits, grains, dairy and vegetables. Supplementary vitamins may provide the required amounts of B vitamins in individuals who do not consume enough foods rich in B vitamins or who consume large amounts of refined sugars or alcohol.
B1 promotes growth, aids in a healthy nervous system, and stimulates brain activity. B2 assists in processing fats and amino acids. B3 decrease levels of cholesterol in the blood, improves circulation and produces healthy skin. B5 guards against stress and premature aging. B6 is important to the processing of amino acids and energy conversion. B12 is essential to a healthy nervous system and assists with the formation of new blood cells. Biotin promotes healthy skin and hair. It assists in the use of proteins and in the body’s use of B12.
Deficiencies in B1 can result in fatigue, difficulty with memory, insomnia and irritability. A B2 deficiency can cause depression. Deficiencies of B3 may begin as depression, but it left untreated may progress to psychosis or dementia. Deficiencies in B5 may cause graying hair, chronic fatigue and depression. B6 deficiencies may cause nervousness, insomnia or eczema. A B12 deficiency causes anemia. Deficiencies in Biotin may cause a host of problems, including skin disorders and eczema, dandruff or hair loss, fatigue, depression and even hallucinations.
Testing and identification of a vitamin deficiency consists of blood tests performed at a lab to determine the level of each nutrient in the blood. Your doctor will generally order a complete blood count to be sure that your symptoms are not the result of other medical conditions.
Treatment of vitamin deficiencies consists of consuming foods rich in that vitamin or taking a supplementary vitamin tablet. Some people have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 and may be given injections to build up the store of available vitamins in the body.
In many cases, the symptoms of depression or other mental disturbances may be evident prior to evidence of the deficiency becoming visible in the blood. It may be prudent to treat mental disorders, where there is a suspected deficiency, with vitamin supplements whether or not blood test indicates a deficiency.