Most Common Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms
The body needs vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Eating a well-rounded balanced diet goes a long way in preventing a vitamin deficiency. But even though you eat nutritious foods most of the time, it is possible to lack some of the essential nutrients your body needs to function optimally. If you avoid whole food groups like meats or carbohydrates your body may start sending you signs of a deficiency. Sometimes, vitamin deficiency symptoms are subtle, so it helps to know what your body is trying to communicate to you.
Vitamin Deficiency Signs and Symptoms
One way to know that you are deficient in specific vitamins or minerals is to have a physician order blood work. But if you don’t know you have a vitamin deficiency, you may not even know to seek medical attention or a blood analysis. Here are some of the most common signs your body is suffering from a vitamin deficiency.
Fatigue and Weakness
If you feel generally worn down or tired all the time, you may be feeling fatigue. If you have low energy, it could be that you are suffering from low vitamin D, iron, or magnesium. When your iron is low, it may show up as anemia. Low magnesium causes weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and an abnormal heartbeat. When your vitamin D levels are low, symptoms are often hard to identify, but general fatigue and muscle aches can alert you to a vitamin deficiency.
Muscle Cramps and Twitching
Calcium deficiencies can cause involuntary twitching especially in the facial region and overall muscle weakness. Calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth, but it also plays a big role in nerve and muscle function. Low calcium levels can also increase the risk of bone fractures.
“Brain Fog” or Difficulty Focusing
Having difficulty focusing or what many call “brain fog” is a common sign of mineral and vitamin deficiency. Usually, it is a vitamin B12 deficiency that is the culprit behind problems focusing or other cognitive difficulties. Vitamin B12 helps the body produce neurotransmitters which act like messengers between the nerves. The amount of these chemicals declines when B12 levels run low. That leaves you with impaired cognitive function. Additional symptoms of a B12 vitamin deficiency include fatigue, problems with coordination and walking, paranoia, and mood changes. Since vitamin B12 is not found in plant food options, vegans and vegetarians are at a significant risk for this vitamin deficiency.
If you notice bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, you may be deficient in vitamin C. Vitamin C supports immunity and helps with the healing process. The only way to get vitamin C is by your diet or supplements since your body doesn’t make it. Vitamin C deficiencies are rare for those who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables. But there are many people at risk for deficiencies because they don’t consume adequate amounts of fruits or vegetables. Other signs of a vitamin C deficiency include bruising easily, wounds healing slowly, frequent nosebleeds, and extremely dry skin.
What Causes Vitamin Deficiencies?
In most cases, vitamin deficiencies are related to what you eat. Most people who consume a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, poultry, and meat get enough vitamins and minerals. Each of the vitamins are found in more than one type of food. Some foods are fortified with vitamins that are not abundant in foods naturally. For example, milk contains the mineral calcium, but is fortified with vitamin D. Cereal, rice, and pasta are often fortified with various vitamins.
For some individuals, it’s not as much about failing to consume enough vitamins and minerals in their diets. Different medical conditions can affect the body’s natural absorption abilities, even if plenty of nutrient-rich foods are consumed.
What Causes a Vitamin Deficiency?
Special Diets and Vitamin Deficiencies
The nature of diets can vary greatly. Some diets are designed to help people lose weight or maintain a specific weight. Medical professionals often suggest a dietary regimen due to health issues. However, eliminating whole food groups as are often recommended can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Some diets that can cause vitamin deficiency symptoms include:
- Vegan or Vegetarian Diet – Diets that eliminate all or most foods derived from animals can increase the risk of deficiencies in vitamin B12 and biotin.
- Dairy-Free Diet – If you are lactose intolerant, have asthma, or other health conditions your doctor my recommend removing dairy products from your diet. A dairy-free diet can put you at risk of a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium.
- Gluten-Free Diet – Gluten-free eating is often recommended for people who suffer from GI problems and other health issues. Foods that contain gluten are also naturally rich in vitamins and minerals or are fortified with them. A gluten-free diet can make you deficient in folate, thiamine, and many vitamins.
- Processed Foods – If your diet includes a lot of highly processed foods and very few fresh fruits and vegetables, you can develop numerous vitamin deficiencies. Avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables can put you at risk for deficiencies of many vitamins including C, E, and K.
Other Causes of Vitamin Deficiencies
Sometimes, dietary habits are not directly connected to vitamin deficiency symptoms. For instance, vitamin D is found in a few foods including seafood and eggs. Other foods are fortified with vitamin D. The body makes vitamin D when it is exposed to direct sunlight. Lack of adequate exposure to the sun can result in a deficiency. It can be difficult to get enough sunshine for the body to make adequate amounts of vitamin D during winter months or in colder climates.
Medical illnesses can often cause malabsorption issues. The body can have trouble properly absorbing and metabolizing vitamins which can cause vitamin deficiencies. Common medical conditions that can cause deficiencies include:
- Liver failure
- Chronic diarrhea
- Kidney disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Malabsorption syndrome
- Alcoholic liver disease
Treatment Options for Vitamin Deficiencies
No matter what the cause of a vitamin deficiency, vitamin replacement is the treatment protocol. If a medical condition causes a deficiency, treatment of the condition is needful. Making dietary changes can be helpful for preventing or correcting deficiencies. A dietician may be helpful for helping identify foods that should be included in your regular diet.
Vitamin supplements are a great option to help you get the vitamins and minerals you need. If your diet restricts certain food groups, supplements can help you replace those that are limited by dietary restrictions. Supplements contain vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. Envura Health offers monthly supplements that help prevent vitamin deficiency symptoms. Specifically designed for 40+, take charge of your health by starting a new habit today.