Ask the Pharmacist: B vitamin deficiency apparent in the potty

Suzy Cohen
When you think of B complex, you probably think of it as one B vitamin, but “B complex” refers to a group of B vitamins consisting of B1, B2, B3, B6 and others.

When you think of B complex, you probably think of it as one B vitamin, but “B complex” refers to a group of B vitamins consisting of B1, B2, B3, B6 and others. 

The B complex available as a dietary supplement is intended to fill a nutrient gap that some people develop from malnutrition. This is fine; however, most people can eat their way to better B status. 

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The concerns about B vitamin deficiency are frequently overlooked by the most caring practitioners. Remember, the mindset in today’s atrocious health care system is to medicate you, so you’re bound to get a drug for a symptom, even if that symptom stems from a nutrient deficiency. But that's what you have me for, I have written articles for 20 something years to help you identify nutrient depletion and proper ways of restoration.

Here are some signs and symptoms of B deficiency: Fatigue, anemia, diarrhea, hypothyroidism, burning mouth, nerve pain, memory issues, depression, vision/hearing difficulty, hair loss, confusion, agitation and numbness. Do you have a lot of those?

One thing that leads to B vitamin deficiency is being a fussy eater. There’s a new case study about a boy who was so fussy about his food that all he ate was fries, white bread, potato chips, slices of ham and sometimes sausage. 

Perhaps you know a child or adult who has a limited diet? According to the case study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the teenager impacted his hearing and vision. So profound was his B12 deficiency, injections of it could not save his sight.

As adults, B deficiencies could be even more profound due to the oxidative damage that occurs from drinking alcohol, smoking and taking medicines which deplete B vitamins. Medications that are known to lower B vitamins include oral contraceptives, blood pressure pills, metformin, antibiotics and acid blockers.

The first sign of B12 deficiency could be apparent in the potty. I’m referring to diarrhea or loose stools. If you suddenly have this problem, and it’s not related to food poisoning or antibiotic use, then consider a B vitamin deficiency.

A balanced diet will give you the full range of B vitamins, so don’t worry if you eat eggs, vegetables, salad, fruits, chicken, seafood, red meat, dairy and nuts. If you have a limited diet for some reason, and you decide to supplement, buy a B complex that offers the B nutrients in their body-ready, biologically active form. For example, “methylfolate,” not folic acid, and “pyridoxal phosphate,” not pyridoxine.

Most people don’t realize that some of the most important B vitamins are manufactured in the GI tract by our own microflora (probiotics help restore healthy microflora). So, a deficiency in biotin, B12 and other B’s could indicate that you’ve stripped your gut of healthy probiotics. This contributes to the diarrhea, or for some, constipation alternating with diarrhea. If you have pins/needles or neuropathy, or you take the medication metformin, then B vitamins are essential for you. 

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit