Effects of B vitamin deficiencyB vitamins
are eight water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Historically, the B vitamins were once thought to be a single vitamin, referred to as vitamin B (much like how people refer to vitamin C or vitamin D). Later research showed that they are chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods. Supplements containing all eight are generally referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements
are referred to by the specific name of each vitamin.
Several named vitamin deficiency diseases may result from the lack of sufficient B-vitamins. Deficiencies of other B vitamins result in symptoms that are not part of a named deficiency disease.Vitamin ........ Name ........ Deficiency effectsVitamin B1
(thiamine)- Deficiency - causes beriberi. Symptoms of this disease of the nervous system include weight loss, emotional disturbances, Wernicke's encephalopathy (impaired sensory perception), weakness and pain in the limbs, periods of irregular heartbeat, and edema (swelling of bodily tissues). Heart failure and death may occur in advanced cases. Chronic thiamine deficiency can also cause Korsakoff's syndrome, an irreversible psychosis characterized by amnesia and confabulation.Vitamin B2
(riboflavin) - Deficiency - causes ariboflavinosis. Symptoms may include cheilosis (cracks in the lips), high sensitivity to sunlight, angular cheilitis, glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), seborrheic dermatitis or pseudo-syphilis (particularly affecting the scrotum or labia majora and the mouth), pharyngitis, hyperemia, and edema of the pharyngeal and oral mucosa.Vitamin B3
(niacin) - Deficiency - Along with a deficiency of tryptophan causes pellagra. Symptoms include aggression, dermatitis, insomnia, weakness, mental confusion, and diarrhea. In advanced cases, pellagra may lead to dementia and death.Vitamin B5
(pantothenic acid) -Deficiency - can result in acne and paresthesia, although it is uncommon.Vitamin B6
(pyridoxine) - Deficiency - may lead to anemia, depression, dermatitis, high blood pressure (hypertension), water retention, and elevated levels of homocysteine.Vitamin B7
(biotin) - Deficiency - does not typically cause symptoms in adults but may lead to impaired growth and neurological disorders in infants.Vitamin B9
(folic acid) - Deficiency - results in a macrocytic anemia, and elevated levels of homocysteine. Deficiency in pregnant women can lead to birth defects. Supplementation is often recommended during pregnancy. Researchers have shown that folic acid might also slow the insidious effects of age on the brain.Vitamin B12
(cobalamin) - Deficiency - causes macrocytic anemia, elevated homocysteine, peripheral neuropathy, memory loss and other cognitive deficits. It is most likely to occur among elderly people as absorption through the gut declines with age; the autoimmune disease pernicious anemia is another common cause. It can also cause symptoms of mania and psychosis. In rare extreme cases, paralysis can result.