If we’re drinking, smoking, using illicit drugs or prescribed drugs long-term, hooked on sugar or processed foods, or we’re stressing too much, we deplete and/or need extra B vitamins. Let’s simplify this by looking at B-complex rather than at each B vitamin individually (although B-12 is most commonly deficient and required specifically for liver health).
Symptoms of vitamin B deficiency are feeling weak and tired in the heart, the breath, digestion, immunity, vision, the muscles, and the nerves with numbness and tingling. Deficiency can also result in moodiness, depression (from impaired brain chemical production), and skin disorders such as eczema or acne. Any of these symptoms may occur gradually or peak in certain moments, particularly after a bout of stress or toxic consumption when the most free radicals are created.
B vitamins can be difficult to absorb when taken as a supplemental vitamin. Therefore, increasing B-rich foods is important. The easiest way to approach getting more vitamin B in your diet is to focus on eating fresh, whole foods with as much variety and natural colors as you can. (If you are fond of processed foods, look here for some ideas on how to begin to swap them out with healthier options.)
Leafy greens, beans and legumes, seeds and nuts, and nutritional or brewers yeast are potent plant-based food sources for B vitamins. If you can find nutritional yeast with B-12 it’s even better, especially if you’re vegan. It usually says on the container if it has B-12 added. It’s tasty in soups, salads, or on pasta, popcorn or potatoes, just for starters.
If you’re showing signs of serious B vitamin deficiency, with the most common symptoms of fatigue, physical or immune weakness, depression, confusion, skin rashes, or dermatitis, then a supplement may be necessary to expedite recovery. Check with a doctor you trust. It’s very important to note that when supplementing B-complex as a vitamin, it’s crucial that it be high quality.
There are many brands of B-complex that actually add toxicity to the body! If you can find activated B-complex, this is the absolute best way to go. (It’s easily absorbed like a food source because the vitamins are already activated.) Otherwise, stay away from the cheapest options.
Supplementing with B-complex before indulging in vitamin B-robbers (again, they are stress, smoking, drinking, illicit drugs, and long-term use of prescription drugs, processed foods, and sugar) and turmeric can help to reduce free radical production that damages cells throughout the body.
If any of the B-robbers are consistently consumed, supplementing regularly is necessary until you’re ready to reduce or eliminate the source(s) of toxic consumption. Until then, supplementing or drinking tea with milk thistle and burdock root will give the liver extra support through cell regeneration and detoxification.
Supplementing B vitamins helps to reduce cravings for these B-robbers, so no matter your motivation, consciously increasing intake of B-rich foods and a quality supplement is helpful to reduce stressful consumption, increase energy levels and vitality, and reduce physical and emotional symptoms of chronic anger, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Let us know your experience with B-vitamins below—have you dealt with B-deficiency and how did you know? Do you supplement, and if so, which brand, or do you stick with B-rich foods, and if so, which ones? Share and support!
Jyllin, certified as a holistic healthcare practitioner in 2004, a bodyworker, and teacher of therapeutic yoga and creative movement, is committed to sharing environmentally and socially conscientious lifestyle tools that support liberation from addictive patterns of chronic stress. Learn more about Jyllin and The Holistic Liberation Program.