We hear a lot about vitamins in advertisements – from our physicians, and from health-conscious friends and family members who make sure to take their multivitamin right after they drink their coffee in the morning. But what do these specific types of vitamins do for our bodies? Let’s learn more about what vitamins do—specifically vitamin B—and how having a deficiency in them can lead to nutritional disorders.
What is Vitamin B?
B vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamins that play several distinct roles in your body like giving you energy, helping the metabolic system, forming red blood cells, and even improving mental cognitive abilities. There are eight essential B vitamins, including B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenate), biotin, B6 (Pyridoxine), B9 (Folate), and B12 (Cobalamin).
There is a reason why doctors are always telling their patients to eat a well-balanced diet: It’s because your body needs different vitamins from food sources to help it function properly.
Types of Vitamin B Nutritional Disorders
Being deficient in vitamin B can set off a whole host of problems and can particularly have an effect on the central and peripheral nervous system. These types of issues are often associated with alcoholism and can be very dangerous to the body if left untreated.
When Thiamine, a vitamin that is required for carbohydrate metabolism, is deficient, it can lead to a few types of disorders. One such disorder is called Wernicke encephalopathy (WE), which can be potentially life-threatening. WE is a central nervous system disorder that, if left untreated, can turn into Korsakoff syndrome that can result in brain damage.
Cobalamin, like other B12 vitamins, primarily assists the body with the formation of red blood cells and helps keep the nerve tissues healthy. A deficiency in Cobalamin can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, diarrhea, or a tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
Niacin helps the body convert carbohydrates into glucose, metabolizes fats, and keeps the central nervous system healthy. Although a Niacin deficiency is becoming exceedingly rare in the United States, it can still occur. When a person develops a Niacin deficiency, they can experience indigestion, fatigue, canker sores, vomiting, and depression. They can also incur a dermatological disease called pellagra. Pellagra causes inflamed skin, dementia, and sores in the mouth. If left untreated, a person’s skin can turn darker, start to peel, and bleed.
Folate is found in green leafy vegetables and is used to make DNA, repair DNA, and produce red blood cells. Having a deficiency in folate can lead to anemia, fatigue, gray hair, mouth sores, tongue swelling, and growth problems in children. It’s especially essential for a pregnant woman to have folate, as a deficiency during pregnancy can lead to birth defects. This is often why folic acid is recommended as a supplement for pregnant women.
Getting your recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and eating a balanced diet is always the best way to prevent any nutritional disorders. If you have any questions about your diet, always be sure to consult with a physician.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as an advice for any individual case or situation.