It is generally known that healthy individuals seldom suffer of vitamin B1, B2, B6 deficiency. However, studies show that those exposed to chemotherapies, steroids (which are often used as anti-sickness drugs) and malnutrition, can develop vitamin B1, B2, and B6 deficiency. The lack of these vitamins can cause serious complications, such as:
- Decreased immunity
- Fatty liver
- Difficulties to digest meat and other proteins
- Difficulties to digest carbohydrates
- Difficulties to digest fat
- Balance problems
- Personality changes
- Difficulties with hair and nail growth and quality
- In addition B2 is needed to help the body change vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B9) into forms it can use
- B2 is also important for body growth and red blood cell production
Inportant info about these vitamins: While Vitamin B1 is needed to metaboliza sugars (carbohydrates), Vitamin B2 si essential for the metabolism of fats, ketone bodies, carbohydrates, and proteins. Both vitamins playa key role in energy metabolism. Vitamin B2 is also needed to help the body change vitamin B6 and folate into forms it can use and is important for body growth and red blood cell production.
How did I found out about the risk of developing Vitamin B1, B2, B6 deficiency?
Vitamin B6 deficiency was listed as one of the side effects of a chemotherapy recently suggested to me. I started to study the issue and soon discovered that lack of vitamins B1 and B2 is even higher and consequences more serious. I do not want to create any panic. I just want to alert you about this issue. My doctors never raised the question in spite of showing majority of the symptoms caused by the vitamin B1, B2, and B6 deficiency. The blood tests were ordered as soon as I alerted my oncologist. But according to the Department of Oncology at University of Texas, “vitamin levels in the blood are often nondiagnostic and therefore identified on the basis of symptoms and the patient’s response to the therapy”. (The article is dated in 1990′s and the technology to detect traces of vitamins in the blood may have developed since then.)
Why use synthetic vitamin supplements and not food rich in these vitamins?
Because once you have developed vitamin B1 and B2 deficiency your body is not able to metabolize these vitamins from food rich in vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
Why not Vitamin B-complex tablets?
Do not opt for Vitamin B-complex tablets, as some synthetic vitamins from the B group (specifically Folate Acid which is also known as Vitamin B9) in a synthetic form should be avoided if you have cancer. Yet another reason to discuss vitamin deficiency with your doctor.
Sadly, in my own experience vitamin deficiencies and post-chemotherapy hormonal disorders seem to have low priority. I hope that the increasing focus on immunotherapy as a viable treatment for cancer will bring the function of vitamins forward.
Do not self-medicate, consult your doctor! Vitamin overdose is also dangerous!
You are welcome to discuss this article in our Forum. If you liked this post, you may be interested in an article about Folic Acid (synthetic form of Vitamin9) in food.
Overview Vitamin B1, B2, B6
The best overview of the Vitamin B1, B2 and B6 function that I have identified on the Internet is one published by University of Maryland
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B1, also called thiamine or thiamin, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body metabolize fats and protein. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly, and are needed for good brain function.
All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that the body does not store them.
Like other B complex vitamins, thiamine is sometimes called an “anti-stress” vitamin because it may strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions. It is named B1 because it was the first B vitamin discovered.
Thiamine is found in both plants and animals and plays a crucial role in certain metabolic reactions. Your body needs it to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy.
It’s rare to be deficient in thiamine, although alcoholics, people with Crohn’ s disease, anorexia, and those undergoing kidney dialysis may be deficient. Symptoms of thiamine deficiency are fatigue, irritability, depression and abdominal discomfort. People with thiamine deficiency also have trouble digesting carbohydrates. That allows a substance called pyruvic acid to build up in their bloodstream, causing a loss of mental alertness, difficulty breathing, and heart damage, a disease known as beriberi.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is “burned” to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body metabolize fats and protein. B complex vitamins are necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly.
All the B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that the body does not store them.
In addition to producing energy for the body, riboflavin also works as an antioxidant by fighting damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells and DNA, and may contribute to the aging process, as well as the development of a number of health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants such as riboflavin can fight free radicals and may reduce or help prevent some of the damage they cause.
Riboflavin is also needed to help the body change vitamin B6 and folate into forms it can use. It is also important for body growth and red blood cell production.
Most healthy people who eat a well-balanced diet get enough riboflavin. However, elderly people and alcoholics may be at risk for riboflavin deficiency because of poor diet. Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include fatigue; slowed growth; digestive problems; cracks and sores around the corners of the mouth; swollen magenta-colored tongue; eye fatigue; swelling and soreness of the throat; and sensitivity to light.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body metabolize fats and protein. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly.
All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that the body does not store them.
Vitamin B6 helps the body make several neurotransmitters, chemicals that carry signals from one nerve cell to another. It is needed for normal brain development and function, and helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood, and melatonin, which helps regulate the body clock.
Along with vitamins B12 and B9 (folic acid), B6 helps control levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that may be associated with heart disease. Your body needs B6 in order to absorb vitamin B12 and to make red blood cells and cells of the immune system.
It is rare to have a significant deficiency of B6, although studies indicate many people may be mildly deficient, especially children and the elderly. Certain medications can also cause low levels of B6 in the body. Symptoms of serious deficiency include muscle weakness, nervousness, irritability, depression, difficulty concentrating, and short-term memory loss.