To Vitamin B or not to Vitamin B?

One day I was sat there, idly musing when I realised that I had a sore tongue. On closer examination in the mirror the edges and tip of it were very red and inflamed. Half a bottle of mouth-wash and 10 lozenges later, that’s three days in earth time, the edges were even redder and I was willing to tell all to my torturers, had there been any.

I had a variety of apparently unrelated symptoms too but did not make the connection until I gave up on self-cure and went to see my GP. As soon as he saw my red tongue he said, “Vitamin B deficiency,” whilst simultaneously typing out a prescription. (By vitamin B he meant a complex of vitamin B 1,2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and B12). The protective layer of mucous in my mouth had disappeared and the germs were playing hopscotch on my glowing tongue, with devastating results. “Huh”, I thought,

“What does he know; vitamin B deficiency in this day and age. A likely story”. So I took vitamin B complex pills and got better in two days! The other sympoms which disappeared were , insomnia from 3 am, vague pains, pins and needles, and numbness in the limbs (nerve damage), and worst of all, temporary loss of central vision for 3 minutes on one occasion. So I got to thinking, “What is a vitamin?”. It turns out to be a substance essential for your metabolism and well-being, but which your body does not make for itself e.g.vitamin C which caused the scourge of scurvy in sailors of old. So if your body does not make it you have to either eat it or take supplements, or, as is common, do both from time to time. The gaps in the vitamin B series above are caused by declassification of the missing substances (B4, B8 etc), originally believed to be vitamins but are not essential ones. All vitamins are important to us but the vitamin B series of 8 ranging from B1, Thiamine, to B12, Cobalamine must take the gold medal for the pain and damage that their absence can inflict on us such as:

  • Book on what can kill youirregular heart beat,
  • depression,
  • tissue swelling,
  • mental confusion and memory loss (dementia),
  • cracked lips and sore mouth,
  • a type of acne,
  • insomnia,
  • peripheral nerve damage (pins and needles and pains),
  • high blood pressure,
  • premature aging,
  • retarded growth in infants,
  • birth defects,
  • ocular effects.

The list is endless and a hypochondriac’s charter sent from heaven above to explain some if not all of their ailments, so beware of jumping to conclusions. The chances of your body being genuinely deficient in this vitamin series are increased if:

  • You consume more than the recommended daily and weekly total units of alcohol, because your liver is busy destroying alcohol instead of processing the vitamin B’s. Otherwise said the “bioavailability” of the vitamin B’s consumed is reduced to very low levels. Alcholics suffer acutely from B deficiency.
  • You are a child, because children’s daily needs are higher than those of an adult (weight for weight) and they have much less storage capacity in their liver.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You have coeliac disease (malabsorption).
  • You are a vegan (particularly applies to vitamin B12).
  • You have had surgical removal of parts of your digestive tract.
  • Your diet is unbalanced , and is mostly processed food, or hastily grabbed sandwiches with bottles of coke,
  • You are getting on a bit and have a low appetite.
  • You are on one of a range certain medications which interefere with absorption (see your GP for much more detail).

restorative-bSo if you are a surrogately pregnant, aging vegan alcoholic, on medication, who is undernourished, frequently grabs a sarny from Tesco’s and has a gastric band don’t bother reading any further! Some deficiencies of the B group can be improved by diet, but there is a notable exception in severe B12 deficiency which requires medical intervention in the form of injections to restore body stocks and prevent irreversible damage. Other deficiencies may be improved if you pay attention to eating:

  • foods which are associated with supporting independant life such as eggs, which are an embryonic packed lunch and survival pack containing every vitamin and mineral required for a chicken to grow initially.
  • other dairy products,
  • single cell products such as yeast and marmite, (at last someone has found a use for marmite), but not beer (because of the imparment to liver metabolism of vitamin B’s), molasses,
  • blood products (single cells again), such as red meat, liver, black pudding (that’s Lancashire caviar),
  • oily fish
  • beans and lentils (self contained survival pack again)
  • chilli peppers,
  • bananas
  • potatoes, preferably not fried and overcooked,
  • enriched cereals and margerine, foods which would normally have little intrinsic value if the law had not insisted on “enrichment”,
  • whole grain products and breads, particularly not white bread which has to be enriched.

If you take vitamin B supplements you need to be aware that long term taking of such non-food items is not the aim and could in fact be harmful to your health. If you become aware of any side effects then they advise you to stop taking the supplements and discuss it with your GP. The vitamin B series is truly a remarkable set of life catalysts which is sometimes undervalued, but has alarming results if neglected. As with all vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements, not having enough can be equally detrimental as having too much. Always consult your doctor if you are not sure are have medical concerns..

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