Vitamin B complex is the name given to describe a group of vitamins in the B family which are essential for growth, development, enzyme production, chemical reaction regulation and turning food into energy that the body can use. There are eight vitamins in the vitamin B complex family that are known as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. Each of these vitamins plays essential roles in your health and deficiencies can lead to disease states that affect your overall health, such as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland that produces less than optimal amounts of thyroid hormone. Your body uses thyroid hormone to regulate metabolism and a lack of the hormones can lead to fatigue, constipation, hoarse voice, puffy face, unexplained weight gain, pain and stiffness in the joints, muscle weakness, sensitivity to cold, elevated cholesterol levels, brittle nails and depression, according to MayoClinic.com. Women over the age of 50 are more likely to have this condition which seldom causes symptoms in the early stages but can lead to other health issues such as heart disease, infertility and obesity.
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Vitamin B Deficiency
Vitamin B complex vitamins are involved in a number of different bodily functions, such that a deficiency in one or two will lead to a number of different symptoms. Vitamin B9 or folic acid is essential to the growth of a developing baby and a deficiency can result in a birth defect involving the spinal cord. Deficiencies in folic acid in adults will increase your risk of some types of cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Deficiencies in vitamin B3, or niacin, can suffer from high cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The B vitamin that is linked to hypothyroidism is vitamin B12 or cobalamin. Linus Pauling Insitute at Oregon State University states that vitamin B12 has the most complex structure of all vitamins known to scientists. A deficiency occurs in approximately 10 percent of people over the age of 60. The most common cause of deficiency is an autoimmune anemia called pernicious anemia and problems with absorption of the vitamin in the intestines. In a study published in 2008 in the "Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association," researchers discovered a link between people who suffered from hypothyroidism and who also had a deficiency in vitamin B12. Approximately 40 percent of 116 patients with hypothyroidism in the study were found to be deficient in vitamin B12 and subsequently showed some improvement in their symptoms with the administration of vitamin B12.
Food Sources and Supplementation
Vitamin B12 is made in your intestines from bacteria as well as being present in meat products like poultry, fish, beef and to a lesser extent, milk. Vitamin B12 is also present in fortified cereals. If you suffer from hypothyroidism you can also talk with your physician about supplementation. It is available in both prescription injectable form or in an over-the-counter preparation. However, before adding this supplement to your regimen it is important to discuss your plans with your physician to ensure it does not interfere with medication or an underlying medical condition.