Vitamin B deficiency and excess

Vitamins B are a group of water-soluble vitamins that participate in many reactions in the body.
Each vitamin of group B has its own characteristics and is found in different types of food, each one favoring different processes.

B1 (thiamine)

It is a vitamin that helps cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also necessary for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system. The foods that contain it are: beer yeast, eggs, nuts, legumes, pork and beef, wheat germ, milk, soy, fish and garlic. The breast milk is rich in thiamine. Cooking food and husking cereals destroys it.

  • Thiamine deficiency: can cause weakness, fatigue and neurological disorders (irritability or depression). The most serious manifestation would be a disease called beriberi (in adults).
  • Excess vitamin thiamine: There is no known toxicity from excess thiamine.

B2 (riboflavin)

It is a vitamin that participates in body growth and in the production of red blood cells. It also helps the development of the embryo. Light destroys this vitamin, so foods that contain it should not be stored in glass containers. It is found mainly in meats, eggs, mushrooms, fatty cheeses, fish, legumes and cereals.

  • Vitamin B2 deficiency: its deficiency manifests itself as lesions on the skin(dermatitis), mucous membranes(mouth ulcers and glossitis) and itchy eyes, tearing and blurred vision. It can also cause anemia. Strict vegetarians tend to have a deficiency of this vitamin B or the existence of intestinal absorption problems.
  • B2 excess: Riboflavin toxicity is unknown.

B3 (niacin)

It is a vitamin that is involved in the functioning of the digestive system, the skin and the nervous system. It is also important for the conversion of food into energy. Deficiency states are rare since our body is capable of producing it by itself from an amino acid called tryptophan.
The foods that contain it are: brewer’s yeast, bran, nuts, veal liver, wheat germ, peach dried apricots, brown rice, mushrooms, poultry and fish.

  • Vitamin b3 deficiency: the serious deficit is called pellagra and it occurs in a state of severe malnutrition causing: dermatitis, diarrhea and dementia. High doses of niacin can cause: liver damage, peptic ulcer and skin rash.

B5 (pantothenic acid) and biotin (B8)

They are B vitamins essential for proper growth and help the body break down and use food. They help in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
It is found in a large number and variety of foods (pantothen in Greek means “everywhere”). The foods richest in pantothenic acid are organ meats, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, fish, dairy products, legumes, potatoes, meat, and whole grains.

  • B5 or B8 deficiency: Biotin deficiency is common in children fed intravenous nutrition without supplementation of this vitamin or children with short bowel syndrome with chronic diarrhea. The symptoms of biotin deficiency are: dermatitis, alopecia, drowsiness, yeast infections and hypotonia.
  • Excess of vitamin B5 and B8: its excess can cause diarrhea.

B6 (pyridoxine)

It is a water-soluble vitamin that dissolves in water and cannot be stored by the body. This requires a daily supply of this vitamin.
Pyridoxine helps the immune system produce antibodies(defenses) needed to fight infection. It is also of utmost importance for maintaining normal neurological function and forming red blood cells. It is essential for the metabolism of proteins. It is found in the following foods: oily fish, nuts, legumes, chicken meat, banana, eggs, and whole grains.

  • B6 deficiency: the deficiency of this vitamin produces ulcers in the mouth and tongue, irritability, confusion and depression.
  • Excess B6: Excess vitamin B6 can cause neurological disorders and joint numbness .

B9 or folic acid

It is a vitamin from the B group that works together with Vitamin C and B12 to help the body use and create proteins. It is also a very important vitamin for the formation of red blood cells and DNA. It is key to tissue growth and, during pregnancy, helps prevent certain malformations of the nervous system such as spina bifida. It is found in nuts, fruits, green leafy vegetables, cereals, and organ meats.

  • Folic acid deficiency: Folic acid deficiency can cause growth retardation, glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), mouth ulcers, peptic ulcers, and diarrhea. It can also produce some type of anemia.
  • Excess folic acid: excessive consumption does not cause any harm.

B12 (cobalamin)

It is a vitamin found in eggs, meat, seafood, and dairy. It is essential for the formation of red blood cells, for the growth and regeneration of body tissues. Strict vegetarian diets can contribute to its deficiency.
Its absorption mechanism is complicated and requires a protein secreted by the stomach called intrinsic factor. The inherited deficiency of this protein can cause a deficiency of cobalamin. Other intestinal absorption problems can decrease cobalamin levels such as celiac disease, intestinal parasites or metabolic disorders. It accumulates in the liver so you have to spend very long periods without its contribution in the diet for a deficit to occur.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: Cobalamin deficiency gives rise to the so-called “pernicious anemia”: red blood cells decrease and in children it is a hereditary disease since they are born without intrinsic factor and the intestine cannot absorb Vitamin B12. The low levels of Vitamin B12 can also cause numbness and tingling in arms and legs, weakness, diarrhea, tiredness, paleness, shortness of breath and loss of balance.

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