Vitamin B

As per the statistics of the National Institute of Health (NIH), 47% of the Indian population is Vitamin B12 deficient, and only 26% of the population Vitamin B12 is sufficient. It has become one of the common health issues in India and around the world.

Vitamin B complex is a group of essential water-soluble vitamins crucial to maintaining good health. It converts the food into energy, which is good for maintaining healthy cells and promoting healthy skin, hair, nails, etc. The B-complex vitamins include Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate or folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). Deficiency of Vitamin B complex may cause fatigue, weakness, anemia, numbness or tingling, memory problems, mood changes, and skin issues like symptoms. However, it’s important to diagnose these symptoms and take action to prevent long-term health complications. In this blog, we will understand the Vitamin B complex deficiency symptoms and how to treat them.

Vitamin B Complex Profile

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Symptoms of Vitamin B Complex Deficiency

Vitamin B complex deficiency may cause various health issues and symptoms. Here are some common signs of B vitamin deficiency and how to address them:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Deficiency:


  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination
  • Memory problems and confusion

How to address it? 

Add whole grains, lean meats, lean pork, and legumes to your diet to prevent the deficiency of Vitamin B1.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Deficiency:


  • Sore throat
  • Redness and swelling of the lining of the mouth and tongue
  • Cracked lips
  • Inflamed and red eyes.

How to address it? 

Consume dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), Lean meats (beef, chicken, turkey), eggs, leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli), and almonds. 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Deficiency:


  • Diarrhea
  • Dermatitis (skin inflammation) 
  • vomiting
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • fatigue
  • dementia.

How to address it? 

Add Meat (especially poultry and fish), whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat), legumes (peanuts, beans, lentils), dairy products, and mushrooms to your diet. Niacin supplements may be prescribed for severe cases.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Deficiency:


  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Digestive disorders

How to address it?

A varied diet that includes meat (liver, kidney), whole grains, legumes, avocado, and mushrooms usually provides sufficient B5. Supplements are rarely necessary.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Deficiency:


  • Anemia
  • Skin rashes
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Confusion and nerve damage

How to address it? 

Eat more chicken and turkey, fish (tuna, salmon), potatoes, bananas, spinach and other leafy greens.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin) Deficiency:


  • Hair loss
  • Scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genital area

How to address it?

Biotin is found in eggs, nuts ( almonds, peanuts), seeds (sunflower seeds), and sweet potatoes. 

Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid) Deficiency:


  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Neural tube defects in fetuses if pregnant women are deficient.

How to address it?

Consume leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale), legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), fortified cereals and grains, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), and avocado to prevent vitamin B9 deficiency. 

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Deficiency:


  • Anemia,
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, 
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty walking

How to address it?

Include animal-based foods (beef, pork, lamb), fish (salmon, trout, tuna), dairy products, eggs, and fortified foods (plant-based milk, cereals, nutritional yeast) for vegans and vegetarians or take B12 supplements if you are on a strict vegan or vegetarian diet.

Why do we need a Vitamin B complex?

The reasons why Vitamin B complex is essential are many; below are some primary reasons: 

  • Energy Production:  Vitamin B helps to convert food into energy and plays a fundamental role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. 
  • Cellular Health: It is good for maintaining healthy cells as it is involved in DNA synthesis, repair, and cell division, which promotes growth and tissue repair. 
  • Nervous System Function: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12 are good for the functioning of the nervous system. The deficiency may cause several neurological disorders.
  • Red Blood Cell Formation: Vitamin B12 and B9 are essential producers of Red blood cells; without these vitamins, our body cannot produce enough healthy RBCs, which may lead to anemia-like conditions.
  • Immune System Support: Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 Support the immune system. 
  • Skin, Hair, and Nail Health: Biotin, or Vitamin B7, promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails. 
  • Heart Health: Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 help to reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. As high homocysteine levels increase the risk of heart disease. 
  • Brain Function: Vitamin 6 pyridoxine synthesizes neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood regulation and cognitive function.
  • Pregnancy and Fetal Development: Vitamin B9 is important during pregnancy as it helps prevent neural tube defects in developing fetuses. 

Causes of Vitamin B Complex Deficiency

Vitamin B complex deficiency can occur due to various factors, including dietary choices, medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle factors. Here are some common causes of vitamin B complex deficiency:

  • Deficiency of certain nutrients in the diet
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Use of certain medication
  • People who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets may be at risk of B12 deficiency.
  • Malabsorption Disorders like celiac disease, Crohn’s diseases 
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding may cause a deficiency of Vitamin B
  • Aging
  • Smoking

Who is at high risk of Vitamin B Complex deficiencies?

Certain groups of people are at high risk of vitamin B complex deficiency:

  • Vegan and Vegetarians
  • Children
  • Elderly people
  • People who consume excessive alcohol
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women 
  • People who take too much Stress
  • People who smoke
  • People who take certain medications
  • People with Gastrointestinal Disorders

What is the Daily Requirement of Vitamin B-complex?

MalesFemalesDuring pregnancyDuring breastfeeding
Vitamin B11.2 mg1.1 mg1.4 mg1.4 mg
Vitamin B21.3 mg1.1 mg1.4 mg1.6 mg
Vitamin B6 1.3 mg*1.3 mg*1.9 mg2.0 mg
Vitamin B9 400 mcg400 mcg600 mcg500 mcg
Vitamin B122.4 mcg2.4 mcg2.6 mcg2.8 mcg

How is Vitamin B Complex deficiency diagnosed?

The deficiency of Vitamin B12 complex can be identified based on symptoms, but sometimes, it might be challenging as it is similar to other nutritional deficiencies. So, it is advised to consult your Doctor and take the Vitamin B Complex Profile test to diagnose the deficiency. 

The Vitamin B complex profile includes Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, and B9, which measures the level of all these vitamins to identify the cause of symptoms. 


Vitamin B is vital for various body functions, including energy production, red blood cell formation, and immune support. Deficiency of the Vitamin B complex leads to several diseases and symptoms like weakness, anemia, and more. Thus, it is advised to take a nutrient and vitamin-rich diet by including a variety of foods like lean meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Consult with your doctor and take a Vitamin B complex profile test. However, if you are diagnosed with Vitamin B complex deficiency, change your diet plan and add Vitamin B supplements or medications. Consuming a balanced diet rich in foods containing B vitamins is the first step in maintaining normal levels. For those at risk or with known deficiencies, supplements or fortified foods are recommended.


Kirti Saxena has specialization in sharing credible and well-researched content related to healthcare services for more than 5 years. She is passionate about writing and disseminating health tips and knowledge for betterment of health to individuals and communities. She is experienced in writing health blogs, website content about detailing the health issues & ways to address them, and well-researched content for magazines to educate readers.

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