B Vitamin Deficiency

What is a B Vitamin Deficiency?

A B vitamin deficiency is a lack of one or more of the eight B vitamins. These vitamins are essential for energy production, metabolism, nerve function, and the production of red blood cells. Without sufficient levels of these vitamins, many health problems can occur.

What Causes B Vitamin Deficiencies?

B vitamin deficiencies can be caused by a number of factors, including diet, medical conditions, medications, alcohol, and smoking. Diet-related causes include inadequate dietary intake or absorption of B vitamins, such as a vegetarian diet or conditions that affect the absorption of vitamins, such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease. Certain medications, such as anticonvulsants and oral contraceptives, can interfere with the absorption or metabolism of B vitamins, as well. Alcoholism and smoking can also lead to a deficiency in B vitamins.

What are the Symptoms of B Vitamin Deficiencies?

The symptoms of a B vitamin deficiency vary depending on the type of deficiency, but can include:

  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Poor concentration or memory
  • Pale skin
  • Eye problems (such as blurred vision)

How is a B Vitamin Deficiency Diagnosed?

A B vitamin deficiency is usually diagnosed by a blood test to measure levels of B vitamins in the blood. In some cases, a urine test may also be ordered to check for excretion of B vitamins in the urine.

How is a B Vitamin Deficiency Treated?

The treatment of a B vitamin deficiency depends on the severity of the deficiency and the underlying cause. Treatment typically involves a combination of dietary changes, supplements, and/or medications. For more serious deficiencies, hospitalization and intravenous (IV) vitamin therapy may be necessary.