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Vitamin B complex

B Vitamins - the group of water soluble vitamins essential for the normal functioning are not usually produced by our bodies and require to be replenished regularly.

Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
Vitamin B3 - Niacin, Niacinamide
Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic acid
Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
Vitamin B7 - Biotin
Vitamin B9 - Folic Acid
Vitamin B12 - Cyanocobalamin


Some Vitamin B Complex formulations, in addition to the above major B Vitamins, may contain Inositol, choline bitartrate and Para Amino Benzoic Acid - PABA.


Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 or thiamine helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy and it is necessary for the heart muscles, nervous system and brain to function properly. Very low levels of Vitamin B1 can lead to Beriberi - a cardiovascular and neurological disease. Deficiency of Vitamin B1 can cause weight loss and weakness. Fortified breads, cereals, pasta, meat, fish, dried beans, leafy vegetables, whole grains, egg yolk, soy foods and peas contain Vitamin B1. Brewer's yeast is a natural source high in thiamine.

RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:

Adults - Men: 1.2 mg
Adults - Women: 1.1 mg
Pregnant Women: 1.4 mg
Breastfeeding Women: 1.5 mg

Vitamin B1 is generally well tolerated and rarely produces adverse side effects with high doses. Deficiency of Vitamin B1 can result in Beriberi ( literally 'I can't' in Sinhalese language) - a disease with the symptoms of loss of appetite, weakness, irritability, tingling of nerves, poor muscles coordination and muscular pain in the calves. This disease is due to poor metabolization of glucose.


Vitamin B2

This is essential for converting carbohydrates into energy and produce red blood cells. Significantly, this vitamin is important for vision. Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin is essential for fat and protein metabolization. Vitamin B2 boosts the immune system, maintains healthy hair and helps functioning of the nervous system. Deficiency of Vitamin B2 can lead to acne, muscle cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome and migraine headache. Best natural sources of Riboflavin are meat, eggs, legumes, nuts, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, and fortified cereals.

RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:

Adults - Men: 1.3 mg
Adults - Women: 1.1 mg
Pregnant Women: 1.4 mg
Breastfeeding Women: 1.6 mg

Vitamin B2 is generally well tolerated and rarely produces adverse side effects like sensitivity to light with high doses. Supplements of Riboflavin can result in bright yellow urine.


Vitamin B3

Food is turned into energy in the body by Niacin. Niacin or Vitamin B3 also helps maintain healthy skin and important nerve functions. The benefits of Vitamin B3 include good blood circulation and brain functioning. Vitamin B3 is also required in order to produce various hormones including progesterone and testosterone. Vitamin B3 - Niacin and its related compounds Nicotinic Acid and Nicotinamide plays an important role in lowering cholesterol levels and aiding widening of arteries. It plays a role in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolization. Severe deficiency of Vitamin B3 can lead to Pellagra - diarrhea, scaly skin and dementia. This vitamin is naturally found in red meat, poultry, fish, fortified cereals and peanuts.

RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:

Adults - Men: 16 mg
Adults - Women: 14 mg
Pregnant Women: 18 mg
Breast feeding Women: 17 mg

Vitamin B3 in high doses can result in burning, tingling sensation with/without red flushed skin. Niacin can also trigger hyperglycemia in the case of type 2 diabetes. Humans can synthesize Niacin from the amino acid Tryptophan in the presence of Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B6.


Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 also known as Pantothenic acid is often used in combination with other B Vitamins in Vitamin B formulations. Vitamin B5 is primarily used for treating dietary deficiencies, acne, alcoholism, allergies, baldness, asthma, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, burning feet syndrome, yeast infections, heart failure, carpal tunnel syndrome, respiratory disorders, celiac disease, colitis, conjunctivitis, convulsions and cystitis. Some times Vitamin B5 is also used for controlling dandruff, depression,tongue infections, gray hair, headache, hyperactivity, low blood sugar, insomnia, irritability, muscular dystrophy, muscular cramps in the legs associated with pregnancy or alcoholism and improving athletic performance.

RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:
Adults - Men: 5 mg
Adults - Women: 5 mg
Pregnant Women: 6 mg
Breastfeeding Women: 7 mg
Vitamin B5 is generally well tolerated in moderate doses but may produce adverse side effects like diarrhea with high doses.


Vitamin B6

Important for brain and nerve function, vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine helps the body break down the proteins and produce red blood cells. It is essential in making antibodies, maintaining nerve function and in the production of hemoglobin. Vitamin B6 also has a role in homocysteine metabolism. Vitamin B 6 deficiency leads to confusion, irritability and depression. Potatoes, bananas, beans, nuts, legumes, whole grains and poultry, fish, eggs, spinach and fortified cereals naturally contain Vitamin B6.

RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:
Adults - Men below 50 years: 1.3 mg
Men - above 50 years: 1.7 mg
Adults - Women Below 50 years: 1.3 mg
Women Above 50 years: 1.5 mg
Pregnant Women: 1.9 mg
Breastfeeding Women: 2 mg

Vitamin B6 is generally well tolerated but may produce neurological disorders with high doses.


Biotin or Vitamin B7: RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:
Adults: 30 microgram
Biotin deficiency manifests in the form of scaly inflammation of the skin, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, anemia, depression and general weakness.


Vitamin B9

Folate or Vitamin B9 is folic acid or folacin, that helps to produce red blood cells and it essential for DNA creation. Dried beans, legumes, green leafy vegetables, orange juice, asparagus, fortified bread, rice, and cereals are all good natural sources of Vitamin B9.

RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:
Adults - Men: 400 mcg
Adults - Women: 400 mcg
Pregnant Women: 600 mcg
Breast feeding Women: 500 mcg

Vitamin B9 is generally well tolerated but may mask a Vitamin B12 deficiency with high doses. Deficiency of Folate can result in Megaloblastic Anemia which is also known as large cell Anemia or Macrocytic Anemia. Deficiency during the time of pregnancy or the period preceding pregnancy may result in neural tube defects in the fetus.


Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 or cobalamin helps to make red blood cells and is important for brain and nerve cell functions. Vitamin B12 is effective in DNA synthesis, fatty acid synthesis and cell metabolism. Vitamin B 12 is found naturally in fish, red meat, poultry, milk, cheese, and eggs and also breakfast cereals. B12 deficiency leads to pernicious anemia - which manifests in the form of weakness, sore tongue, general apathy, back pain and tingling in the extremities. Vitamin B12 helps maintain a healthy digestive system, healthy skin and hair and protect against high blood pressure and heart disease. Vitamin B 12 helps protect against breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer.

RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance:
Adults - Men: 2.4 mcg
Adults - Women: 2.4 mcg
Pregnant Women: 2.6 mcg
Breast feeding Women: 2.8 mcg

Vitamin B12 is generally well tolerated.


Asthenia

Weakness, loss of strength or lack of energy is described as Asthenia. This weakness results in reduced strength thus making it difficult for a person to perform or complete a task. This condition may be indicative of a larger problem/disease. Asthenia is experienced differently by different people thus making it difficult to understand the underlying problem.


The entire body may be affected or only a part of the body may be affected. Asthenia can affect people belonging to any age group. A person suffering from asthenia may not be in a position to complete any task. Asthenia as a condition may be continuos, chronic or temporary. It is more a symptom than a condition itself. It is not life threatening; but it does affect the quality of life. The weakness experienced can either be perceived or true.


Weakness is classified as true weakness when there is an actual loss in muscle strength and capability that may have been caused due to an injury or muscle defect. Weakness is termed as perceived weakness when the muscles of a person are functioning well and yet he feels unable to complete the task. This type of weakness is non-neuromuscular weakness.


Asthenia symptoms

Symptoms may vary depending on how much of the body is affected; part of the body or the entire body. The symptoms also vary depending on the underlying condition and other symptoms that exist. When the entire body is affected, the symptoms include:


  • Tiredness
  • Flu/Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Physical discomfort
  • Inability to complete tasks
  • Feeling unsteady/wobbly sensation
  • Slow movements

When only part of the body is affected, the symptoms include slow movement, muscle twitching and muscle cramps. If asthenia is present along with other symptoms like extreme pain, slurred speech, confusion, change in vision etc, it needs immediate medical attention.


Common causes for asthenia include:

Sedentary lifestyle: Leads to muscle waste, muscle fibers are replaced by fat due to inactivity thereby reducing muscle fitness.

Advancing age: With age, the muscles in the body loosen or weaken.

Infection: Infection leads to muscle inflammation thus making it weak.

Chronic diseases: Chronic diseases may reduce blood and nutrient supply to muscles thus making them weak.

Vitamin deficiency; in particular vitamin B9

Anxiety or depression

Adverse effects of certain medicines

Treatment for other diseases like radiation therapy or chemotherapy

Chronic lung disease

Drug abuse.


Asthenia classified as per cause

Asthenia can be classified based on what causes the condition. Common types include:


Infectious asthenia: Any prolonged infection in the body like tuberculosis, hepatitis, infective endocarditis can cause this condition. Asthenia neoplastic: Caused due to cancer.

Asthenia neurological: Parkinson's disease, narcolepsy, multiple sclerosis may cause asthenia.

Asthenia endocrine and metabolic: Hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, misunderstood or unbalanced diabetes, kidney failure and anemia

Asthenia digestive origin: Celiac disease, non-infectious hepatitis, cirrhosis, Hemochromatosis, inflammatory bowel disease

Systemic disease: Auto-immune diseases can affect multiple organs and lead to this condition.

Asthenia cardiovascular: Heart failure, chronic respiratory disorder, arrhythmia, sleep apnea.

Asthenia original toxic or drug: Psychotropic drugs, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers.

When no cause is identified, asthenia is classified as functional asthenia.


Asthenia treatment

The underlying cause of asthenia determines the treatment. Based on what has caused asthenia, treatment is prescribed.


  • Antibiotics or corticosteroids are prescribed depending on the underlying cause.

  • Correction of hormonal deficiency and vitamin deficiency also helps.

  • Unhealthy lifestyle can lead to functional asthenia. A balanced diet, sufficient sleep and a healthy lifestyle can help overcome the condition.


Tags: #Vitamin B complex #Asthenia
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Bibliography / Reference

Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: July 30, 2021