4 Signs You Need More B Vitamins In Your Diet
By Panasha Desai, Pharmacist (GPhC 2071387)
There are a number of B vitamins that our bodies use to stay healthy and strong. Although each B vitamin has a slightly different role in the body, they all work to support cell metabolism – the regular function of our bodies that allows for growth, healing and cell renewal.
There are a few signs to be aware of that could mean you are not getting enough B vitamins in your diet, as well as a few signs to watch out for to ensure you don’t have a serious B vitamin deficiency.
What Are The 8 Individual B Vitamins?
Identifying each B vitamin is useful for those trying to ensure they have a balanced diet. Each of the eight B vitamins has a B number, but also has another name that you might be able to identify it by:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (Folate & Folic Acid)
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
When we talk about B vitamins, we are talking about a group of vitamins that are often found in the same or similar foods. We need different amounts of each and they have unique benefits for the body and mind, so making sure we get a little of each is important. You can find a list of foods, how much to take and more in our Vitamin Glossary.
4 Signs You Need More B Vitamins In Your Diet
A balanced diet will ensure you get all the B vitamins that you need for a well functioning body. However, not everyone is able to get all the nutrients required from their foods, either because of dietary restrictions, ingredient availability or just because they don’t realise that their diet isn’t balanced. Below, we look at the signs and reasons why you might need to examine where you are getting your B vitamins from.
1. You Feel Tired Or Sluggish
Everyone can feel lazy or be lacking in sleep from time to time, which doesn’t necessarily correlate with a B vitamin deficiency. When we talk about tiredness in this context, we mean an increase in your tiredness despite no other change in your lifestyle.
Vitamin B12 and B9 deficiencies will often lead to fatigue and lethargy, among other symptoms, and vegans or those who have switched to a more plant based diet should be particularly aware of the impact of this change. Since many B vitamins come from meat, poultry, fish, etc, removing these from your diet, without seeking out specific replacements for the nutrients they offer, can lead to an imbalance.
Similarly, if you have recently taken up a new form of regular exercise or are doing more, physically, day-to-day, then you could be increasing your need for vitamins and minerals in general. You may want to look into supplements to support your training by examining the nutritional needs of athletes and adjusting your nutritional intake to match your workouts.
2. You Are More Stressed, Anxious Or Depressed
A change in your mood and mental state can be confusing and potentially harmful. If you are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or another mental health condition then please speak to a professional. The NHS can guide you through finding support in your area. A lack of some B vitamins can struggles with your emotions or ability to cope with stressors.
Vitamin B5 is ‘critical to the development of stress-related hormones’, such as cortisol. Without it, we can struggle to process that which causes stress, leading to further issues. B vitamins in general are supporting vitamins that allow the conversion of nutrients into energy. A lack of them will make clear thinking, staying motivated and coping with stressors more difficult as you’ll not have the energy to do these things.
There are many causes of anxiety but the NHS does flag a deficiency in iron, B9 (folate) and B12 as potential triggers – a GP will be able to diagnose if this is the cause. Clinical depression too has many causes and an unhealthy diet can be a contributor. Remember that a nutritionally powered body can help you to deal with many ailments.
3. You Have A Hormonal Imbalance
Hormone imbalances and issues can affect you at various stages of your life. One of the biggest hormone changes comes during the menstrual cycle. PMS and it’s symptoms are often unpleasant and at times unmanageable for many. However, vitamin B6 studies ‘have shown improvements in PMS symptoms (including cramping, fibrocystic breasts and excessive bleeding) by 70 to 88 per cent’.
Hormonal issues can have a variety of effects, from insomnia to weight gain and fertility problems. Not all of these are linked to B vitamins but because hormones are constantly recycled in the body and the ‘biochemical detoxification pathways require B vitamins to be successfully completed’, we need the right levels of B vitamins in order to balance hormone levels effectively. You should speak to a GP about any potential hormonal imbalances you are experiencing, to get the right support and treatment.
4. You Have A High Toxic Load (Heavy Drinking, Smoking, Rich Food Consumption)
‘Fatigue, bloating, skin breakouts, constipation, headaches, weight gain, and irritability are just of a few of the unpleasant side effects of toxin build up.’ B vitamins help your body to convert other nutrients, turn them into energy for cell renewal. Because of this they are key to clearing out toxins in our bodies. Without them a high toxic load can cause a buildup of toxins in your system.
An unhealthy diet with heavy drinking, smoking and the consumption of rich foods, including sugary drinks and snacks, will tax your body and increase the amount of work that has to be done to clear out the toxins. If you don’t get enough B vitamins or even if you are getting a regular amount but are consuming the above in excess, your body will struggle to stay healthy and balanced.
Where To Get B Vitamins From
There a number of foods that are high in B vitamins, primarily poultry, dairy, eggs, meat and fish. With an increase in those following a plant based, vegetarian or meat free diet, there are now a range of breads and plant based milks that have been fortified with B vitamins, especially B12 which ‘plays various roles in your body, including supporting nerve cell function, red blood cell production and DNA synthesis’.
Recommended Vitamin B Supplements
If you are looking to supplement with B vitamins then we recommend: Lamberts Vitamin B-50 Complex Tablets.
You can also browse a range of individual B vitamins if you are looking to add only one or two B vitamins to your diet.
The products offered are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease, or replace the advice of a medical professional. Results are not guaranteed and may vary from individual to individual.