Vitamin B Deficiencies: Your Tongue “Tells” a Story
It has become increasingly clear that since the B vitamins occur together in food, no person is deficient in any one B vitamin without being deficient in all of them.
There are, however, as many degrees and variations of B-vitamin deficiencies as there are different individuals. Formerly the disease beriberi was thought to be caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and pellagra by lack of the B vitamin, niacin (B3).
When human volunteers stayed on diets lacking vitamin B1 (thiamine) or niacin (vitamin B3), however, neither beriberi nor pellagra has been produced. These diseases actually result from multiple deficiencies of all the B vitamins, the lack of vitamin B1 or niacin being only more prominent.
In a general way you can tell how adequate your intake of B vitamins has been by looking at your tongue.
It should be moderate in size, an even pink in color, and smooth around the edges without coating or indentations showing where it has rested against your teeth. The taste buds should be uniformly small and cover the entire surface and edges. If you can find a healthy child, you may see what the normal tongue should look like.
When the B vitamins are under-supplied, many changes take place in this organ. The first change appears to be enlargement of the buds at the front and sides of the tongue. Later these buds become small or even disappear, making the tip and sides smooth, whereas the buds farther back will progressively enlarge. These buds have a flat appearance like button mushrooms.
As the deficiencies of these vitamins become more severe, clumps of taste buds fuse and grow together, pulling apart from other clumps and thus forming grooves or fissures. The first groove usually forms down the center of the tongue.
In a severe B-vitamin deficiency, the tongue may be so cut by grooves and fissures that it looks like a relief map of the Grand Canyon and surrounding territory or a flank steak run through a tenderizing machine.
When the deficiencies are still more severe, the taste buds literally disappear. First the tip and edges become smooth and shiny; then the buds disappear progressively from front to back. This extreme condition is found most often in elderly persons whose diets have been inadequate for years; they complain that their foods has little flavor. In some cases such tongues are intensely sore. In other cases, persons having extremely abnormal tongues are surprised to find that they differ from normal.
The size of the tongue also indicates deficiencies of these vitamins. The tongue may be large, beefy, and full of water (edematous). Often such a tongue shows scallops around the edges where it has rested against the teeth. The beefy tongue is so named because it has the appearance of beef and is usually an intense deep red.
On the other hand, it may become too small, or atrophied. Other tongues may have a purplish or magenta cast, and still others may be a brilliant red. Often the tongue shows a combination of colors with perhaps a red tip and a magenta center. The color and texture vary depending upon which B-vitamin lack is most prominent.
For example, a magenta tongue (the color seen most often) indicates that a deficiency of vitamin B2 predominates over the other B-vitamin deficiencies.
A beefy tongue is thought to show that pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is particularly undersupplied. When deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid are most prominent, the tongue becomes strawberry red and smooth at the tip and sides; it is often shiny and not coated.
If the deficiency is predominantly the B vitamin, niacin (vitamin B3), the tongue may be fiery red at the tip and may appear to be either too small or too large and so coated that it is fuzzy with debris. The heavy coating is caused by the growth of undesirable bacteria; it usually indicates much putrefaction in the intestine. Since valuable bacteria in the intestine produce B vitamins, such coating probably never occurs if bacteria growth is normal.
Studies indicate that 60 – 100% of the persons showing severe tongue changes are unable to produce sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid in their stomachs; their output of digestive enzymes is far below normal. In such cases, digestion is so faulty that unless tablets of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes are taken temporarily, much gas, flatulence, digestive disturbances, and discomfort may be experienced.
In fact, if your digestion is so faulty that you have intestinal gas after you add foods rich in the B vitamins to your diet, you can be sure you have been deficient in these vitamins.
All the B vitamins dissolve in water and for this reason cannot be stored in the body. Just as a sponge can be slightly moist or dripping wet, however, so can the cells hold little or much of each B vitamin, depending on the amount offered. To maintain ideal health, the offering of B vitamins should be sufficient for each cell to take all it can use to advantage. Any B vitamins not needed are excreted in the urine.
It appears that all B vitamins work together; this co-operation is called the synergistic action of the B vitamins. The taking of one or more B vitamins increases the need for the others not supplied, probably because any one B vitamin alone can increase the activity of each body cell. The group in its entirety can be obtained only from such foods as liver, yeast, and wheat germ. (Please note that due to a high phosphorus content in Brewer’s Yeast it is important to balance it with calcium. See more about calcium and phosphorus here.)
To discuss the deficiencies of the B vitamins separately is as unrealistic as to believe in men from Mars. Such deficiencies exist only in an experimental laboratory. A deficiency of one, however, often predominates over others. If the first symptoms of deficiency are recognized, they can serve as a warning that unless your nutrition is improved, great deviations from health can be expected.
Excerpted from Let’s Eat Right To Keep Fit by Adelle Davis.
As Brewer’s Yeast is out of proportion with its phosphorus and calcium content, it is vital to take a calcium supplement to balance it up and as calcium needs to be in balance with magnesium, it is vital to have this mineral too. The best way to get this balance is by using CalMag-C as it is a balanced calcium and magnesium supplement – a 2:1 ratio and it has the pH correctly balanced with the vitamin C in it. Click here to order CalMag-C.
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