Vitamin B Deficiency
By: Brandi Black, RHN
1 January, 2018 by
Vitamin B Deficiency
Sun Chlorella USA

Vitamins are so much more than the brightly colored Flintstone tablets from your childhood. In fact, organic vitamins and minerals work together to perform all the functions of the human body, such as growing from infants to adults, digesting food and converting it to energy, managing stress, and keeping our immune systems strong. All natural vitamins also help to regulate our mood, allow us to have a sense of taste and smell, and even work alongside other nutrients to keep our heart beating [1].

Since all micro and macronutrients work together (including vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates), there isn't one single nutrient that's more important than another. It's possible to be deficient in any nutrient- although some deficiencies are more likely to occur than others.

For the purpose of this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the role of vitamins in the body. In particular, we will look at B vitamins, which are so important they shouldn't be left out of any healthy diet, and ways to tell if vitamin B deficiency is affecting your body.

How Vitamins Give the Human Body Life 

Vitamins are found in all foods, but are most abundant in unprocessed plant foods found in nature. Animal products also contain vitamins and minerals such as iron, but all nutrients found in animal products can also be found in plant foods.

When you actually get to know the functions vitamins perform in the body, it's fascinating to learn how these little microscopic compounds can give us life. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant to keep harmful toxins from lurking in our cells, while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, the mineral required to build strong, healthy bones.

With vitamins and minerals being so crucial to how our bodies function (and therefore, how we feel on a daily basis), we can certainly feel the effects when we're not receiving an adequate amount of a certain vitamin or mineral.

The Importance of B Vitamins 

One group of vitamins that plays an extraordinarily large role in all aspects of our health are B vitamins. Unfortunately, B vitamin deficiencies are not uncommon. There are eight known B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12, and although they exist in the same class, they also perform unique functions of their own.

All B vitamins have one important job in common, which is to help the body convert food into usable energy [2] . But specific B vitamins, such as B2, help the body disarm the free radicals that contribute to illness and disease by acting as an antioxidant. Vitamin B12 works with Vitamin B9 to help produce red blood cells. 

As you can see, vitamins are some kind of miracle for giving life to the human body. This is why it's so important to ensure your vitamin intake is optimal, especially when it comes to B vitamins. Being water soluble, it's said that B vitamins are not be stored in the body in significant amounts, which is why it's ideal to include them in your diet each day; without doing so can lead to vitamin B deficiency. Luckily there are several foods that contain B vitamins, which makes it easy for us to do so.

Since there are multiple B vitamins that work with one another to perform several key functions, noticeable signs and symptoms are likely to appear when you're not getting enough of a specific vitamin B.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency 

Although it was previously mentioned that no nutrient is more important than another, vitamin B12 is going to steal the spotlight for a moment. It's worth mentioning that vitamin B12 is one of the most common vitamin B deficiencies, and since most B12 is found in animal products, it's most prevalent in vegans or vegetarians.

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient not only for transporting oxygen between cells (which gives us energy and oxygen), but also for helping the body produce the nucleic acids RNA and DNA (which are the "blueprints” that carry our genetic information). B12 also supports the nervous system by keeping nerve cells healthy.

It's been said that the most bioavailable form of B12 is found in animal products such as fish, beef, pork, dairy products, eggs, liver and shellfish, which means animal sources of B12 digest better than the B12 found in only a few plant foods. But is this a cold, hard fact or a myth?

Vitamin B12 Deficiency & Chlorella 

Vegans, rejoice: the following information may be your new favorite answer to the all-too-common question "But as a vegetarian, where do you get your B12?

As you know, B12 has been thought to only be found in adequate amounts in animal products, but recent studies are suggesting otherwise. Chlorella has been considered one of the only superfood plant to contain a sufficient amount of B12, but many questions have surrounded whether the B12 in plant foods is easily digested, absorbed and assimilated in the body. Basically, we've wondered if the B12 in plant foods is useful or useless.

Interestingly enough, the recent findings published in The Journal of Medicinal Food may help plant based eaters eliminate the B12 deficiency dilemma. In 2015, a clinical trial was initiated to observe the B12 levels in healthy vegan and vegetarians (whose B12 levels showed they were low at the time of being screened), and whether or not they improved after taking daily doses of chlorella pyrenoidosa (the strain of chlorella in Sun Chlorella tablets and Sun Chlorella powder) for up to 60 days.

Each subject's B12 levels were monitored from start to finish by measuring the methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels and homocysteine levels in their blood. This is because raised MMA and homocysteine levels indicate a B12 deficiency.

When the study was over, the findings showed those who received 9g of chlorella pyrenoidosa each day for 60 days had significant reductions in both their MMA and homocysteine levels. The study concluded that based on their findings, chlorella pyrenoidosa is indeed a bioavailable plant source of vitamin B12, and has the ability to prevent B12 deficiency from occurring.

Being rich in bioavailable vitamin B12 is only one of the benefits of chlorella. This amazing green superfood is also rich in other vitamins, minerals, plant protein, and a nutrient called Chlorella Growth Factor, which provides the body with nucleic acids RNA and DNA.

Although we've discussed in detail how vegans and vegetarians are thought to be most at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, anyone can be deficient in any B vitamin. B vitamins are depleted in the body by many factors such as chronic stress, smoking, diets high in refined sugar, heavy alcohol consumption and chronic digestive issues.

Here are 5 signs you may not be getting enough B vitamins, and how to easily increase them through your diet.

1. Low Energy Levels 

All B vitamins, especially vitamin B1, help the body convert sugar from carbohydrates into glucose- which the body can then use as fuel, or energy. Without B vitamins, our bodies cannot properly utilize the nutrients from the foods we're eating, and therefore, we may experience low energy levels, despite sleeping eight hours each night.

Foods to Eat for Extra B1: organic sprouted wheat, legumes, nuts and seeds, as well as egg yolks and liver.

2. Unexplained Tingling and Numbness in Your Hands or Feet 

Several of the B vitamins are essential to maintain proper nerve function. If you find that you're experiencing the "pins and needles” sensation without any known cause, you may be lacking vitamins B1, B6 and B12 in your diet. Consistent muscle weakness can also be caused by low levels of vitamin B6 [3]

Foods to Eat for Extra B1, B6 and B12: organic wheat germ, legumes, nuts and seeds, Sun Chlorella tablets or Sun Chlorella powder, turkey, spinach, brown rice, organic unprocessed whole grains and sunflower seeds.

3. Frequent Low Mood and Symptoms of Depression

Vitamins B1, B3, B6 and B9 help convert the amino acid tryptophan, into serotonin. Serotonin is the "feel good” neurotransmitter that helps regulate our mood and prevent consistent feelings of sadness. Inadequate levels of serotonin have been linked to feelings of depression , which explains how B vitamins play a role in our mood.

The fact that B vitamins aid in the conversion process of tryptophan to serotonin also illustrates the potential to improve our mental health and wellness through our diets.

Foods to Eat for Extra B1, B3, B6 and B9: shellfish, beans and legumes, tuna, turkey, chicken, carrots, brown rice, beef and lamb.

4. Frequent Colds

Although vitamin C is known as the immune-boosting vitamin (who hasn't told you to drink orange juice when you're sick!?), several of the B vitamins are also immune system boosters, and play a key role in strengthening your immunity in many ways.

It's suggested that vitamin B2 may help prevent the body from contracting bacterial infections, while vitamin B6 promotes immune function by lowering the immune response, which can progress to producing T-cells and B-cells. T-cells and B-cells are known as the "killer” cells that attack foreign invaders and are involved in an advanced immune response [4].

Foods to Eat for Extra B2 and B6: Spinach, beets, turkey, whole sprouted grains, tempeh (fermented soy), plain organic yogurt, mushrooms, tuna and chicken.

5. Stress, Anxiety, and Nervousness

If you're more anxious than usual, or find that your ability to cope with stress has noticeably declined, you may be lacking any of the B vitamins.

Since all B vitamins play a key role in healthy nerve cells, it only makes sense that they're fundamental to the functioning of the nervous system. A 12 week study conducted on subjects who experienced high levels of stress in demanding work environments showed that a regular, high dose of a B complex improved their mood. In fact, the B-complex improved their mood enough to be referred to as an effective, natural treatment for stress and anxiety- without the use of any other nutritional supplements or medication [5].

The best way to support your nervous system through proper nutrition is by eating plenty of foods that are rich in various B vitamins. As you know, these foods range from various vegetables to animal protein, unprocessed whole grains and superfoods such as Sun Chlorella tablets or Sun Chlorella powder.

By adding more B vitamins to your diet, you can expect to experience more energy, a lighter mood and an overall sense of improved health and wellness.

About Brandi Black, RHN
Brandi Black is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C. Experiencing her own health challenges at a young age led her to become passionate about educating on the healing properties of food, and how to achieve hormone balance, clear skin and sustainable weight loss naturally. In her spare time you'll find Brandi writing in her blog and hanging out with her teacup chihuahua, Coconut.

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