CareNow® - April 10, 2023

You may not put much thought into the vitamins you get in your diet on a daily basis, but did you know there are many factors that can contribute to your being deficient?

Because your body doesn’t create vitamin B12 on its own, it’s critical that you get plenty of it from either your diet or a supplement. We’ll take a look at the signs of vitamin deficiencies and how you can replenish this vital vitamin in your body to help it function properly.

H2: What Is Vitamin B?

Vitamin B is a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in various bodily functions, including energy metabolism, immune function, and nerve function. There are several different types of vitamin B, each with its own unique functions and food sources. 

Here are some of the main types of vitamin B:

H3: Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine helps the body convert food into energy and is important for the nervous system. Good sources of thiamine include whole grains, legumes, pork, and fortified cereals.

H3: Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin is involved in energy metabolism, red blood cell production, and the maintenance of healthy skin and eyes. Good sources of riboflavin include dairy products, lean meats, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.

H3: Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Niacin helps the body convert food into energy and is important for the nervous and digestive systems. Good sources of niacin include meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and nuts.

H3: Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): Pantothenic acid is involved in energy metabolism and the synthesis of hormones and cholesterol. Good sources of pantothenic acid include meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and legumes.

H3: Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine is involved in the production of red blood cells and neurotransmitters and is important for the immune system. Good sources of pyridoxine include meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and bananas.

H3: Vitamin B7 (Biotin): Biotin is involved in energy metabolism and the maintenance of healthy hair, skin, and nails. Good sources of biotin include egg yolks, liver, nuts, and seeds.

H3: Vitamin B9 (Folate): Folate is important for the production of DNA and red blood cells and is particularly important for pregnant women to help prevent birth defects. Good sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, legumes, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals.

H3: Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Cobalamin is involved in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

Why Is Vitamin B Important?

B vitamins are crucial for maintaining optimal health and well-being as they form the foundation of a healthy body. These vitamins directly impact energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism.

The benefits of Vitamin B complex include potential prevention of infections, support for cell health, growth of red blood cells, eyesight, brain function, digestion, appetite, proper nerve function, hormones and cholesterol production, cardiovascular health, and muscle tone.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, B vitamins are especially important as they assist in fetal brain development and decrease the risk of birth defects. These vitamins can also help manage energy levels, ease nausea, and lower the risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Additionally, B vitamins are sometimes included in "testosterone-boosting" supplements, as they are believed to increase testosterone levels in men, which tend to naturally decrease with age. While there is a lack of evidence supporting these claims, B vitamins may still play a role in regulating both male and female hormones due to their helpful effects on hormone regulation.

What Causes Vitamin B Deficiency?

Vitamin B deficiency can be caused by a variety of factors, including an imbalanced diet, excessive alcohol consumption, certain medications, and gut malabsorption conditions. 

Since B vitamins can’t be synthesized directly by the body, a well-balanced diet that provides the right amount of nutrients is essential to prevent vitamin B deficiencies. Because foods like meat, fish, legumes, and dairy products boost vitamin B levels, vegan and vegetarian diets may lack vitamin B12 and lead to deficiencies. 

Excessive alcohol consumption also puts you at a heightened risk of vitamin B deficiency, as alcohol can cause the kidneys to flush B vitamins out of the system more quickly than usual. 

Gut malabsorption conditions, like Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, or Celiac disease, can prevent B vitamins from being absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially causing harm to the body. 

Certain medications, such as anticonvulsants, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and antibiotics, can also increase the likelihood of vitamin B deficiencies.

Who Is Prone to Vitamin B Deficiency?

There are several factors that can increase the risk of vitamin B deficiency. People who don’t consume a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources, may not get enough vitamin B from their diet. Since vitamin B12 is often found in animal-based foods, vegans and vegetarians often run the risk of deficiency.

Those who suffer from certain digestive disorders like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or Crohn's disease are at a heightened risk of being vitamin B deficient since the conditions can interfere with the body's ability to absorb vitamin B12. Older adults also have a harder time absorbing vitamin B12.

Certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors and metformin, can also interfere with the body's ability to absorb vitamin B12. Any time a medical provider prescribes you a medication, it’s a good idea to ask about potential interactions and concerns around the medication.

If you’re concerned about your vitamin B levels, it’s smart to make an appointment with your medical provider. They can run tests to see where your levels are. With 175 locations throughout the country, CareNow® is fully staffed with qualified providers who are ready to serve you when it’s convenient for you.

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How to Know if You’re Deficient in Vitamin B

There are several signs and symptoms that can indicate a deficiency in vitamin B12. These symptoms can develop slowly over time and can be difficult to recognize, as they may resemble other health conditions. Some of the most common vitamin B deficiency symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and weakness: Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue, weakness, and a general lack of energy.
  • Numbness or tingling: Vitamin B12 is also critical for maintaining the health of the nervous system. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause numbness, tingling, or a "pins and needles" sensation in the hands and feet.
  • Difficulty walking: Since vitamin B12 is important for nerve function, a deficiency can cause problems with mobility, including difficulty walking or balancing.
  • Mood changes: Low levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
  • Pale skin: Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a reduction in the number of red blood cells, leading to pale or yellowish skin.
  • Mouth ulcers or tongue inflammation: Inflammation of the tongue or mouth sores can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Digestive problems: Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of the digestive system. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can lead to constipation, diarrhea, or other digestive issues.

Can Urgent Care Help Vitamin B Deficiency?

If you believe you may be deficient in vitamin B, it’s a good idea to see a medical provider who can order lab tests to have your levels tested. At CareNow®, we offer a number of lab tests and can provide you with a proper diagnosis today.

Take advantage of our Web Check-In® feature before your visit so you can wait from anywhere instead of sitting in the waiting room. We also welcome walk-in patients.

At CareNow®, you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands as we’ve received the prestigious title of Accredited Urgent Care Center from the Urgent Care Association (UCA), which showcases our dedication to caring for our patients.

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