Do you ever feel like you are losing your mind? Or do you feel irritable, restless, experience mood swings or feel disconected? One possibility to consider is a deficiency in B complex vitamins.

B1 (Thiamin) can produce deficiency symptoms of irritability, confusion, memory loss, aggression, anxiety, apathy, night terrors, noise sensitivity, fatigue, constipaton, lack of appetite and a “pins and needles” feeling in the legs. B1 promotes growth, imporves the mental state and is necessary for the production of energy. B1 can be found in whole grain cereals, lean meat, green leafy vegetables, dried beans, milk and eggs.

B2 (Riboflavin). Migraine sufferers who experience light sensitivity are B2 deficient. Also characteristic of B2 deficiency are cracks at the corner of the mouth, outer eye lids and lower ear lobes. One may also experience itchy, gritty and watery eyes, dizziness and sore or burning lips, tongue and mouth. B2 can be found in the same foods as B1.

B3 (Niacin) deficiency can contribute to irritability, insomnia, poor concentration, memory loss, fears, suspicions and apprehension. It also aids with indigestion and headaches. It improves circulation and converts carbohydrates into energy. It has been used therapeutically for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), “Tired all the Time Syndrome”, poor appetite, high cholesterol, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and wheezing in asthmatics. Avocados, sunflower seeds and prunes are high in B3.

B5 (Pantothenic acid) deficiency is a given with “burning feet”. It also contributes to emotional symptoms of quarrelsomeness, restlessness and depression. There is also a tendency to heal slowly and deficiency can contribute to hypoglycemia. B5 is also know as an anti-stress vitamin. It converts carbohydrates into energy so that even a slight deficiency can lead to fatigue. Sources of B5 are the same as B1 and B2.

B6 (Pyridoxine) tends to be low in individuals whose diet is centered on junk food. It is best to get this nutrient in whole unprocessed foods as processing destroys up to 90 percent of the B6. B6 is necessary for the production of stomach acid, the absorption of B12; it helps metabolize and transport selenium, a trace mineral necessary for thyroid funciton and also helps the body absorb zinc. Deficiency symptoms include anemia, insmnia, morning sickness, PMS, dry skin and nervousness. Other symptoms linke to B6 deficiency are poor concentration, hair loss and numbness and tingling in the limbs. A best source of B6 is found in bananas. It can also be found in avocados, liver, cantaloupe, cabbage and seeds.

Folic acid deficiency can present symptoms of withdrawal, increased sensitivity to pain, low white blood count, anemia, graying hair and intestinal disturbance. Deficiency can contribute to insomnia, impaired memory, reduced immunity, confusion, brethlessness, fatigue, anorexia and birth defects (particularly spina bifida). It is essential for the division of body cells and red blood cell formation. It can be found in leafy green vegetables, carrots, liver, apricots, avocados, beans, melons and fresh oranges.

Biotin deficiency can produce symptoms of anxiety, extreme sleepiness, hallucination, muscular pain, and a lack of feeling in the extremities. Brittle nails, thinning hair on the eyebrows and eyelashes and red or scaly skin are also signs of a deficiency. Biotin is manufactured from food by bacteria that is present in the intestinal tract of the body. Eating excessive amounts of egg whites may cause biotin deficiency because egg whites contain avidin, a substance that binds biotin.

This is a partial representation of the signs and symptoms that can occur as a result of deficiency. Processed foods, alcohol, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and some drugs can causse malabsorbtion or depletion of these nutrients. B vitamins are water soluble and relatively safe to take. Consideration must be given to B6 as too much may cause nerve damage.

(This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis or treatment for any condition. Dr. Elia Acuna is certified in nutrition by the american Board of Nutrition.)