Vitamin deficiencies are more common than a lot of people realize. It’s primarily due to dietary choices, and can be extremely difficult to implement a well rounded diet into your daily life. Most vitamin deficiencies can be easily resolved, but you may feel a little off until they are.
Vitamin deficiency signs and symptoms may be subtle at first, but they increase as the deficiency worsens. Vitamin deficiency usually develops slowly over several months to years, so you usually won’t feel symptoms right away.
Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms
Symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia include:
Shortness of breath
Pale or yellowish skin
Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
Mental confusion or forgetfulness
Let’s break down each B vitamin and how common each deficiency is.
Vitamins B1 and B2 Deficiencies (Rare)
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) are both a key part in converting food into energy. Thiamin also helps with brain functions and riboflavin helps maintain proper eyesight.
Vitamin B1 deficiency is rare, and vitamin B2 deficiency is very rare in the United States. This is, in part, due to cereal and milk! The U.S. uses whole-grain in many of their cereals, which is rich in both vitamins. Because cereal is touted as an essential part of breakfast, this vitamin deficiency is not common at all.
Those at risk for it are those who drink alcohol excessively. If you’re in that category and experience symptoms such as confusion or cracks alongside the corner of your mouth, then you may be deficient in vitamin B1 or B2.
Vitamin B3 Deficiency (Rare)
Vitamin B3, also called niacin, helps convert food into energy, aids in proper digestion and healthy appetite, and is important for cell development.
A lack of niacin can cause digestive issues, such as nausea and abdominal cramps. Severe deficiency may also cause mental confusion.
Vitamin B3 deficiency is very rare in the United States.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency (Uncommon)
Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine. Like other B vitamins, it helps the body turn food into energy. It can also help the body fight infections by supporting the immune system. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need it to help their babies’ brains develop normally.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is not common in the United States. Insufficient amounts of B6 can result in anemia. It can also lead to depression, confusion, nausea, and dermatitis.
Vitamin B9 Deficiency (Uncommon)
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, helps your body use fats and proteins. It is found mainly in fruits and leafy green vegetables. It is uncommon, but a slight deficiency is more common if you don’t regularly consume green leafy vegetables regularly.
Deficiency can also result if your body is unable to absorb folate from food.
Pregnant women and women who are breast-feeding have an increased demand for folate, as do people undergoing dialysis for kidney disease.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency (Common)
Vitamin B12 is an essential in making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy. It also helps release energy from food.
Vitamin B12 deficiency affects between 1.5 and 15% of people in America. If you’re not taking enough of these vitamins, it can lead to vitamin deficiency anemia. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can result from not eating enough meat, eggs and milk. It is common in those with dietary restrictions, such as vegans and vegetarians.
It is also extremely common in those with endocrine-related autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, as these disorders stop your body from absorbing vitamin B12.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia can also occur if:
You’ve had surgery to your stomach or small intestine, such as gastric bypass surgery
You have abnormal bacterial growth in your small intestine
You have an intestinal disease, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, that interferes with absorption of the vitamin
You’ve ingested a tapeworm from eating contaminated fish
Vitamin B Deficiency Prevention
There are ways to help prevent all of these deficiencies.
Choose a Healthy Diet
You can prevent some forms of vitamin deficiency anemias by choosing a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.
Foods rich in folate include:
Dark green leafy vegetables
Enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice
Fruits and fruit juices
Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include:
Fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals
Milk, cheese and yogurt
Meat and shellfish
You can also supplement these vitamins with IV vitamin therapy. This type of treatment bypasses your digestive system entirely and works wonders for those who are unable to consume or digest specific vitamins. We offer these services at IV Revival!
Call us to schedule an at-home appointment! We’ll send our nurses to you so you can start boosting your health and feeling better from the comfort of your home.