B-Vitamins: All You Need To Know

A lack of B vitamins is often known as a silent deficiency. Understand how fatigue, restlessness and mood swings might actually be due to nutritional vitamin deficiencies.

By URLife Team
02 Jun 2023

When it comes to maintaining optimal health, a well-balanced diet is the key. Among the essential nutrients that we require, B vitamins play a crucial role in numerous bodily functions. These water-soluble vitamins—B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12—are involved in energy production, metabolism, cell division, and the functioning of the nervous and immune systems.

According to the latest reports in 2021 from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), approximately 47 per cent of the Indian population is deficient in vitamin B12. These findings highlight the widespread prevalence of inadequate vitamin B12 levels in India, emphasising the need for awareness and interventions to address the problem


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There are several factors contributing to this widespread deficiency in India. Majorly, vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal-derived foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. As a result, individuals who follow vegetarian or vegan diets are at a higher risk of deficiency if they do not include adequate plant-based sources or take appropriate supplements. 


1. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 aids in converting carbohydrates into energy and supports proper nerve function. Its deficiency can lead to beriberi, a condition characterised by weakness, fatigue, and muscle leading to neurological disorders affecting memory and cognitive function.


2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 is involved in energy production, cellular growth, and maintaining healthy skin and eyes. A deficiency in riboflavin can cause symptoms like cracked lips, skin rashes, and anaemia. It may also contribute to developing oral conditions such as glossitis and angular cheilitis.


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3. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin plays a vital role in energy metabolism, DNA repair, and the production of various hormones. A deficiency in vitamin B3 leads to pellagra, a condition characterised by symptoms such as dermatitis, diarrhoea, dementia, and even death when left untreated for a considerable period.


4. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Vitamin B5 is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as for maintaining healthy skin and hair. Although rare, a deficiency in pantothenic acid may result in fatigue, insomnia, numbness, and gastrointestinal disturbances.


5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 enzyme reactions, including the metabolism of amino acids and neurotransmitters. Its deficiency can lead to symptoms such as anaemia, dermatitis, depression, confusion, and weakened immune function.


6. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Biotin is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids, as well as for healthy hair, skin, and nails. While biotin deficiency is rare, it can cause symptoms such as hair loss, scaly skin, depression, and neurological issues.


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7. Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid)

Folate is crucial for DNA synthesis, cell division, and the production of red blood cells. Inadequate folate levels can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, and birth defects during pregnancy, and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.


8. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is essential for nerve function, DNA synthesis, and the production of red blood cells. Deficiency in B12 often results from poor absorption rather than dietary insufficiency and can lead to symptoms such as anaemia, fatigue, memory loss, and neurological problems.


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Symptoms of Low Vitamin B levels

Our body has an incredible way of communicating with us, and when it comes to deficiencies in vitamin B, it often reflects these imbalances through various noticeable symptoms. Being attentive to these signs allows us to recognise and address these deficiencies to restore our body's optimal functioning and overall health.

1. Fatigue and Weakness: Feeling chronically tired and experiencing weakness, even after adequate rest, can be indicative of low levels of certain B vitamins. These vitamins play a crucial role in energy production and can affect overall vitality.

2. Pale Skin and Anaemia: Insufficient levels of vitamin B12, B9 (folate), and sometimes B6 can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, characterised by a reduction in the number of red blood cells and larger-than-normal red blood cells. Symptoms include pale skin, weakness, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness.

3. Digestive Issues: Vitamin B1 deficiency may result in digestive problems such as poor appetite, constipation, and abdominal discomfort. Additionally, low levels of B12 can cause digestive disturbances, including diarrhoea, constipation, or a combination of both.

4. Nervous System Disorders: Various B vitamins are essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system. Deficiencies in B1, B6, B9 (folate), and B12 can manifest as neurological symptoms like tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, muscle weakness, difficulty walking, poor balance, memory problems, mood changes, and even depression.

5. Skin and Hair Problems: Inadequate levels of biotin (B7) can contribute to skin issues such as dryness, rashes, dermatitis, and brittle nails. Hair loss and thinning are also common symptoms of biotin deficiency.

6. Oral Disorders: Deficiencies in B vitamins, especially B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin), may lead to oral problems. These can include swollen and sore tongue, cracks or sores in the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis), and inflammation of the tongue (glossitis).

7. Cognitive Impairment: Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect cognitive function and lead to memory loss, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and even dementia-like symptoms, especially in older adults.

8. Mood and Emotional Disturbances: Low levels of several B vitamins can impact mood and emotional well-being. Symptoms may include irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression.


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Maintaining a balanced diet rich in sources of B vitamins, such as whole grains, lean meats, fish, dairy products, legumes, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods, can help prevent deficiencies. Also, proper blood work is required to confirm the deficiency and to start with the line of treatment, including dietary changes.

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Dietary changes can be an effective way to improve levels of vitamin B and prevent deficiencies. Here are some easy-to-make recipes to increase your intake of B vitamins:


Chana Methi Dal Recipe


Ingredients list

  • 20g Bengal gram (Chana dal)
  • 100g fenugreek leaves (Methi), finely chopped
  • 10g tamarind pulp (soaked in water)
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • A small piece of tamarind (optional)
  • A handful of curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust according to spice preference)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 5ml sunflower oil (or any cooking oil of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing) powder
  • 1 dry red chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped




Step 1 :

Rinse the chana dal under running water and soak it in water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water before using.

Step 2 :

In a pressure cooker, combine the soaked chana dal, chopped fenugreek leaves, tamarind pulp, green chilli, and a few curry leaves. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and mix well.

Step 3 :

Close the pressure cooker with the lid and cook for about 5 whistles or until the chana dal is cooked and tender. Cooking time may vary, so adjust accordingly.

Step 4 :

Once the pressure is released, open the cooker and mash the dal and fenugreek leaves mixture using a spoon or a potato masher. Mash it to your desired consistency.

Step 5 :

Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and salt to the mashed dal mixture. Mix well to combine the spices evenly.

Step 6 :

In a separate pan, heat safflower oil over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and let them splutter.

Step 7 :

Add asafoetida powder, dry red chilli, chopped garlic, and a few curry leaves to the pan. Stir-fry for a minute or until the garlic turns golden brown and fragrant.

Step 8 :

Pour the tempering mixture from the pan into the cooked dal. Mix well to incorporate the flavours.


Chana dal is a nutritional powerhouse rich in B-complex vitamins that play a crucial role in glucose metabolism. It is an excellent source of vegetarian protein, folic acid, manganese, and iron. Methi, or fenugreek leaves, complements the dal by providing fiber and minerals like iron and magnesium. This combination not only offers a flavourful meal but also provides essential nutrients for overall health and vitality. Including chana dal and methi in your diet can help meet your protein needs, support energy production, aid in digestion, and promote optimal bodily functions.


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Chana Sprouts Chaat Recipe


Ingredients list

  • 20g Bengal gram (Chana) sprouts
  • 10g ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 10g small onion, finely chopped
  • 10g green capsicum, finely chopped


  • 10g carrot, grated
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste




Step 1 :

Start by boiling the Bengal gram sprouts. Rinse them thoroughly under running water and then place them in a pot. Add enough water to cover the sprouts and bring it to a boil. Cook until the sprouts are tender but still have a slight crunch. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes. Once cooked, drain the sprouts and let them cool.

Step 2 :

In a mixing bowl, combine the boiled chana sprouts, chopped tomato, onion, capsicum, and grated carrot.

Step 3 :

Season the mixture with salt and black pepper according to your taste preferences. Be mindful of the amount of salt you add, as some ingredients like the sprouts may have already been cooked with salt.

Step 4 :

Toss all the ingredients well until they are evenly coated with the seasoning. Ensure that the vegetables and sprouts are well-mixed.

Step 5 :

Once everything is combined, the chana sprouts chaat is ready to be served. You can enjoy it as a light and nutritious snack or as a side dish with your main meal.


Feel free to adjust the quantities of the ingredients based on your preferences. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice or sprinkle some chaat masala for added tanginess and flavor. This chaat is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients from the chana sprouts and colourful vegetables, making it a healthy choice. Enjoy!


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Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have B-complex vitamins deficiency. Taking regular health checks can help detect the deficiency at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications, and advice to you.



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