May 04, 2021

Common Signs and Symptoms That You May Have A Vitamin B Deficiency

 How Do I Know If I Have A Vitamin B Deficiency?

We are all aware of Vitamin B12 as an important part of keeping our bodies performing at optimal health, but did you know there are 7 other nutrients that make up the whole Vitamin B family? We are going to go through the significance of the most common B vitamins, and how to tell if you have a vitamin deficiency in any of them.

What is Vitamin B-12

The most familiar of the vitamin B family, Vitamin B12 [or cobalamin] is one of the essential vitamins needed to keep our health and body working properly. It is naturally occurring in many foods including meat, poultry and fish, nutritional yeast, eggs and dairy products. It is also found in most fortified foods, including plant-based milks and flours. For those that do not get enough vitamin B in their daily diets, doctors may recommend a daily vitamin supplement for optimal wellness. It is especially important to ingest Vitamin B12 on a regular basis to keep our bodies’ nerve system, brain function and red blood cell production healthy.1 Vitamin B12 is also known to help boost energy naturally for many individuals.

Am I At Risk Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

If you are one, or more, of the following groups - you may be at risk of Vitamin B deficiency, specifically Vitamin B12.

Examples of at-risk groups:

  • Over the age of 75 years old
  • History of gastric or small bowel resection
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pregnant
  • Follow a vegan/vegetarian diet

Signs of B12 Deficiency are usually presented as deficiency anemia, eg:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Lack of energy
  • Severe tiredness
  • Getting out of breath easily
  • Lightheaded and/or feeling faint
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations2

However, there are other symptoms that may occur with or without signs of anemia, eg:

  • A pale, yellowy tinge to the skin
  • Sore, red tongue
  • Easily irritated
  • Memory loss
  • Disturbed or blurred vision
  • Depression

What is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 [or pyridoxine] is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed for healthy brain development and function while also promoting healthy red blood cells. It is also important for keeping our nervous and immune systems performing at healthy levels. Your body does not naturally produce Vitamin B6, which is why we must take it via other sources. The richest source of Vitamin B6 is found in animal products [fish, beef liver and other organs], it is also naturally found in starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash and corn. You will also find it in most fruits, other than citrus.

Am I At Risk Of Vitamin B6 Deficiency?

While the risk of being deficient in Vitamin B6 is actually quite rare, you may be more likely to suffer from it if you are in any of the following groups.

Examples of at-risk groups:

  • Renal diseases ie. kidney disease
  • Kidney transplant and/or receiving dialysis
  • Autoimmune disorders eg. rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pregnant
  • Alcohol Dependence

Signs you may have a Vitamin B6 deficiency include, but are not limited to:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis or a red, itchy rash
  • Sore, cracked skin on and around the mouth
  • Painful, swollen, smooth tongue
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • PMS-related mood changes
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Pins and needles in extremities

While these may not necessarily be immediately noticeable, some symptoms of a lack of Vitamin B6 include:

  • Compromised immune system function
  • Nerve damage
  • Lack of hemoglobin, causing signs of anaemia
  • Anxiety and depression due to a lack of GABA and serotonin

What are Vitamins B1 and B2?

Recognised by their pseudonyms, Vitamin B1 [thiamine] and Vitamin B2 [riboflavin] help to extract and release energy from foods into the body. Found in many sources of food, including dairy products, fruits and vegetables - you will likely have seen both of these vitamins included in many fortified breakfast cereals, and some pastas and breads. Vitamin B1 and B2 cannot be stored in the body, which is why we must ingest them in our daily diet to keep our skin, eyes and nervous system healthy.

Am I At Risk Of Vitamin B1 and B2 Deficiency?

Due to the wide array of foods that Vitamin B1 and B2 are present in, you are most likely receiving the recommended daily intake needed for overall health, however there are some exceptions.

Examples of at-risk groups:

  • Pregnant
  • Lactating
  • Following a strict vegan/vegetarian diet
  • Older adults
  • Compromised immune systems i.e. HIV/Aids 
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol dependence

Signs you may have Vitamin B1 and/or Vitamin B2 deficiency may include:3

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Tingling of extremities
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea

Vitamin B1 and B2 can also lead to the worsening of some of the following symptoms:

  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Damage to nervous system
  • Optic nerve health

What is Vitamin B3?

Commonly referred to as niacin or niacinamide - Vitamin B3 is an important nutrient that helps to maintain all of your bodily functions, specifically metabolism and the nervous and digestive systems. It can also help to maintain healthy adrenal glands and improve circulation. Vitamin B3 is actually produced naturally in the body when synthesized from tryptophan which occurs in protein-rich foods such as chicken and beef liver, chicken and turkey breast, tuna and salmon, and plenty of nuts, wholewheat products and vegetables. 

Am I At Risk Of Vitamin B3 Deficiency?

As with other B vitamins, Vitamin B3 cannot be stored in the body and is an essential inclusion in your daily diet. Those who fall into the following groups may well experience signs and symptoms of Vitamin B3 deficiency.

Examples of at-risk groups:

  • Alcohol dependance
  • Eating disorders
  • Diets high in corn products
  • Digestive disorders or diseases
  • Strict vegan diets

Signs you may have Vitamin B3 deficiency may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness/soreness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea 
  • Swollen, red tongue
  • Poor circulation
  • Cracked, sensitive skin

If you are Vitamin B3 deficient, it can lead to some of the following symptoms:

  • Memory loss leading to dementia
  • Pellagra
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Osteoarthritis

What is Vitamin B9?

The final nutrient of the Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B9 is generally referred to as folate or folic acid. Most commonly prescribed as a supplement to those in the early stages of pregnancy, and during conception, this B vitamin plays a key role during periods of rapid growth and the development of a healthy fetus. As with other B vitamins, Vitamin B9 is found in a variety of sources and metabolised into its active form from foods such as dark, leafy greens, citrus fruits, legumes and sprouts, wholegrains, eggs, seafood and animal liver. It can also be found as an added supplement and may be absorbed better in that method.

Am I At Risk Of Vitamin B9 Deficiency?

If you fall into any of the following categories, you may need to up your Vitamin B9 intake.

Examples of at-risk groups:

  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Digestion disorders such as IBS and Celiac disease
  • Intestinal surgeries
  • Poor diet
  • Older adults
  • Genetic disorder that prohibits the absorption of Vitamin B9/folate

If you are deficient in Vitamin B9 or folate, these are some of the signs you should be looking out for:

  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness, lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness of extremities
  • Graying hair
  • Growth issues

Due to the vitamin deficiency or inability to absorb Vitamin B9, it may lead to, or exacerbate, some of the following symptoms:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Severe kidney problems
  • Anaemia
  • Decreased levels of white blood cells and platelets
  • Underdeveloped fetus or birth defects4

How do I boost my Vitamin B intake?

There is no one-size fits all solution to ensure you are absorbing enough of the B vitamin complex, however, there are some simple actions you can take today to set you on the right path and ensure you do not fall into Vitamin B deficiency.

  1. Up your protein intake Whether it be plant-based, meat or fish - it is crucial that you are getting enough protein in your diet.
  2. Eat your whole Vitamin B complex Found in GEM’s supplements in the form of quinoa sprouts from Austria, it's so easy to ensure you are getting your recommended daily intake of Vitamin B complex.
  3. Add fortified foods to your diet Some of the most common of these are breakfast cereals and non-dairy products that contain essential additions such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin [Vitamins B1, B2 and B3].

Disclaimer: As with all of our articles, this has been written as an unbiased overview of vitamin deficiencies, and should not be taken as medical advice. If you think you may be experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency - please contact your health advisor as soon as possible.

Explore further sources around signs of Vitamin B deficiency symptoms, and preventative measures, here:


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Our goal at GEM is to give readers up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics. GEM content is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and articles undergo an extensive review process.

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