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Things You Need To Know About Vitamin Deficiency and What to do About it.
Did you know that nutrient deficiencies can affect your quality of life, leaving you in pain or fatigued or worse?
It may come as a surprise that in the year 2019, this condition remains one of the most common global health concerns.
And people of all ages can be affected by vitamin deficiencies and that normally co-exists with mineral deficiencies.
Although less severe deficiencies are often clinically unrecognized, there is no doubt that even mild deficiency may have an adverse impact on a person.
Sadly, pregnant and lactating women as well as young children are highly susceptible to the negative effects of such deficiencies.
Keep on reading to find more about vitamin deficiencies and how dietary changes and taking good quality supplements may help you ward off the unpleasant symptoms we mention below.
As you read this post, please keep in mind that you should always check in with the doctor before starting any new supplements.
What is a Vitamin Deficiency?
By now, most people know that it's simply a condition that stems from long-term lack of vitamins and/or minerals in your body.
Despite this, many do not realize that there are two types; primary and secondary vitamin deficiencies.
In a primary deficiency, there is just not enough intake of a nutrient.
While a secondary deficiency is the result of an underlying disorder (e.g. Malabsorption).
It can also be caused by lifestyle choices which demand more vitamin intake, such as drinking alcohol and smoking.
In addition, nutrition experts look at differences in the needs of athletes and children, for example.
How Common Are Vitamin Deficiencies?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than a third of the world’s population is affected by vitamin deficiencies.
And some of the most common deficiencies in the world relate to the following:
Vitamin A, Folate, B12, and various other B Vitamins, as well as D, and K.
Vitamin A Deficiency
The deficiency of A could cause preventable vision issues in children.
It also increases the threat of disease and death from severe infections in children.
An A deficiency (VAD) is responsible for causing night blindness in women while also increasing the risk of infertility and even acne.
The deficiency of Folate is responsible for causing anemia, depression, fatigue, glossitis, and brain defects in infants.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is most common in elderly people.
This vitamin deficiency can affect the nerves, heart, blood, and more.
For example, people may experience fast heart rate or tingling hands/feet when they are deficient in B12.
Vitamin K Deficiency
The deficiency of K increases the risk of excessive bleeding.
This is due to the fact that vitamin K helps with blood clotting.
Vitamin D Deficiency
A deficiency in D is most common in people living in regions far from the equator.
One of the main reasons for this deficiency is limited sun exposure.
This deficiency is becoming more and more common due to our indoor lifestyle.
Deficiency in this nutrient negatively affects the immune system and can result in soft bones and delayed growth in children.
Not only that, but it may be associated with bone loss and muscle weakness in adults.
These vitamin deficiencies have adverse health and developmental impacts on both children and adults.
To prevent the commonly occurring deficiencies, many countries have taken the step to mandate vitamin food fortification programs (adding essential vitamins and trace elements to food).
But, is that really solving the issue if we still have a third of our population deficient in nutrients?
Why Vitamin Deficiencies have Become So Common?
There are two main reasons why deficiencies have become so common as opposed to a few decades ago.
The number one reason has to be our lifestyle. We have become so ‘addicted’ to comfort that we have confined ourselves in our homes only to sit in front of electronic screens.
This is one of the main reasons behind Vitamin D deficiency.
The lack of sun exposure is the main reason behind this.
Our diet also plays a huge role in the increase of deficiencies.
Most people don't regularly eat a lot of whole foods and rely on processed foods.
These foods have little to no natural vitamin sources.
We prefer processed food over good clean dairy, meat, fruits, and vegetables.
Our reliance on junk food means that we are not consuming essential nutrients and vitamins on a daily basis.
Fast foods are made of highly-processed ingredients and they offer limited value in terms of minerals, essential nutrients, and vitamins.
The abuse of alcohol and tobacco also interferes with the absorption of Folate, vitamin C, and many other vitamins.
In addition to all the above, leaky gut and malabsorption could be a factor. See our post on food sensitivities for more information on this topic.
6 Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency
Eating the right foods is the best, most natural place to start when solving your nutrient problem,
but working with a doctor to find underlying issues or needs for supplementation should also be noted.
Here are some signs that can help you in identifying whether you’re vitamin deficient or not.
If you notice bleeding gums every time you brush your teeth, there is a high possibility your diet is lacking vitamin C.
Understand that your body cannot produce vitamin C on its own and that’s why you have to maintain its levels in your body through your diet .
Foods to Eat: Try introducing vitamin C rich foods into your diet, such as guavas, chili peppers, parsley, mustard spinach, kiwis, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, lemon, and strawberries.
Brittle Hair and Nails:
The lack of biotin, vitamin B7, can cause brittle hair and nails.
The deficiency of biotin can also cause muscle pain, chronic fatigue, and cramps .
Heavy smokers and drinkers and pregnant women are most likely to have this vitamin deficiency.
Avoid eating raw egg whites because they contain avidin which binds to biotin and lessens its absorption.
Foods to eat: It is best to introduce foods in your diet that are rich in biotins, such as fish, meat, organ meats, dairy, egg yolks, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, whole grains, cauliflower, nuts, and seeds.
Poor Night Vision:
You can have poor night vision if your diet doesn’t contain much nutrients and vitamins.
The deficiency of vitamin A is often linked to night blindness.
It is because vitamin A produces rhodopsin, the pigment in the retina that provides better night vision.
Foods to Eat: You should eat vitamin A-rich foods, such as dairy products, organ meats, fish, eggs, dark leafy greens, and vegetables that are yellow-orange colored .
Dandruff and Scaly Patches:
Lack of riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) can affect the oil-producing areas of your body and cause dandruff and Seborrheic dermatitis (SB) .
According to studies, both conditions are quite common in infants and adults.
Although the exact link of poor diet and these conditions are not fully determined, experts do suggest that it is best to consume diets rich in nutrients and vitamins.
Foods to Eat: You should include foods rich in pyridoxine, niacin, and riboflavin, such as organ meats, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, whole grains, green vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Cracks in the Corner of Your Mouth:
The deficiency of B Vitamins in the body can cause lesions in the mouth.
Mouth ulcers (aka cracker sores) are linked to lack of B Vitamins in the body.
A study of 60 patients found that around 28% of patients had mouth ulcers along with deficiencies of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) in the body .
Foods to Eat: You should eat foods rich in riboflavin, pyridoxine, and thiamin, such as meat, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
This is one of the most common signs of vitamin deficiency in men and women.
It can be caused due to deficiencies of zinc, iron, biotin (vitamin B7), and Niacin (vitamin B3) in the body , .
Foods to Eat: Make sure you include all niacin-rich and biotin-rich foods into your diet such as legumes, dairy, fish, meat, nuts, seeds, egg yolks, organ meats, and leafy greens.
When you Supplement, Make Sure you Have High Quality!
Although there is no comparison between getting vitamins and nutrients from fresh food, many times we’re not able to get enough from our diet for several reasons.
This is where general vitamin and nutrient supplements can help in filling the gaps in your diet.
Vitamin supplements can be really helpful if you are unable to make dietary changes or, if getting the essential vitamins or nutrients is not possible for you.
However, it is imperative to understand that taking too much of certain nutrients or buying cheap supplements may actually be a waste of money or worse, harm your health. Some supplements have side effects or interact with medications. So, once again, it is always important to consult with your doctor before consuming supplements.
The Bottom Line
The treatment of vitamin deficiencies is possible only if you start paying attention to your diet.
It is vital for you to start eating diets that are rich in nutrients and vitamins.
Take only high quality, absorbable vitamins and nutrients if you’re unable to get all your needs met from a healthy diet.
Once again, please do consult with your health care provider before taking any supplements.
We are not doctors we simply share information we hope will help everyone to feel well.
We used the sources below in writing this article.
Please comment below or send us an email. We'd love to hear about your experiences with overcoming vitamin deficiency.