With current lifestyle tendencies that are characterized by increased refined food consumption, there is a higher chance of vitamin B complex deficiency occurring in both young people and their elder counterparts. In most cases, however, adults above 60 years of age and pregnant women are more susceptible to the vitamin B complex deficiency that leads to the hematological changes and loss of neurological functions. Resent research indicated that about 48% of all seniors exhibit at least mild vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Vitamin B complex comprises all the known essential water-soluble vitamins except vitamin C. Each of these vitamins has a vital role in the body. For instance, vitamins B 1, B 2, B 3 and biotin are important for energy production, vitamin B 6 for amino-acid metabolism, while B 12 and folic acid play a crucial role in cell division.
The main cause of the deficiency in older adults is the decreased capacity to absorb vitamin B complex from food. This is caused by diminished acid secretions in the stomach linings, which in turn leads to decreased capacity to absorb vitamin B complex bound to food proteins.
Another sub-population that’s largely affected by this deficiency is those under stomach/peptic ulcer treatment. The use of histamine during treatment decreases the secretion of gastric acid parietal cells that help in absorption of these vitamins. Proton pump inhibitors such as Omeprazole also block the secretion of pepsin and gastric acid and this impairs vitamin B 12 absorption.
Anybody can develop vitamin B complex deficiency in this way, but the good news is that it can be corrected by taking vitamin B complex supplements. Protein inhibitors don’t block absorption of complex vitamins from supplements since the vitamins in such supplements are not protein bound.
Since vitamin B complex isn’t found naturally in plants, strict vegans are more likely to experience vitamin B deficiency in the course of their lifetime.
Those who take Metformin as a diabetes drug may also develop vitamin B complex deficiency symptoms.
Symptoms of vitamin B complex deficiency
While the deficiency is usually slow to develop, it intensifies with time. Depending on the individual’s body and immune system, symptoms may fail to show up for a long time and this condition can be overlooked and confused with some others. The most common symptoms include:
– Numbness, strange sensation or tingling in the legs and hands.
– Swollen or inflamed tongue.
– Balance problems, difficulty walking.
– Body weakness.
– Yellowish skin.
– Cognitive difficulties and memory impairment.
While some of these symptoms can be noticed easily, an experienced physician always has the patient take a blood test to confirm the condition. According to a report by Dr.Ryan Bistrian Bruce from Harvard Medical Center, early detection and treatment is very important. He also added that if left untreated, the condition may advance to severe blood diseases and neurological problems.