B vitamins are a group of vitamins that are sometimes referred to as “the energy vitamins”, since they help put a spring in your step and play an important role in maintaining energy levels. What you may not know is that they play an essential role in many cellular processes. They are needed for healthy brain cells, production of neurotransmitters which regulate mood and conduct messages, metabolism of carbohydrates, contributing to cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.
A healthy balanced diet should provide adequate amounts of each B vitamin, but because these are water-soluble vitamins, they aren’t stored well in the body and are eliminated when you pee. This means you must replace them every day. Individuals at greatest risk of developing a vitamin B deficiency include pregnant and breastfeeding women, older adults, and individuals following certain diets (ex. vegan/vegetarians, ketogenic diet). In addition certain medical conditions can interfere with your ability to absorb B vitamins from hypothyroidism to irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases, as well as having too many alcoholic beverages. Certain medications such as the oral contraceptive pill, proton pump inhibitors and metformin can also decrease the amount of B vitamins in our bodies. On top of this as we age, our ability to absorb these vitamins diminishes.
These vitamins work together in the body like cogs in a clock – all parts need to be present in order for the system to work. A deficiency in any one of them can lead to a host of health problems, as you can imagine a clock won’t work very well if one cog is missing or functioning slowly.
Signs of low B vitamins include:Fatigue
- – Fatigue
- – Altered sensations – pins and needles/tingling
- – Weakness
- – Pale complexion
- – Dizziness
- – Forgetfulness
- – Poor concentration
- – Low moods
- – Poor vision
- – Mouth sores
- – Skin rashes
- – Headaches
If a deficiency in B vitamins is suspected, treatment options may include supplementation by oral supplements or intramuscular/intravenous injections. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about which would be best for you!