Spotting Vitamin and Nutritional Deficiencies
Having a vitamin or nutritional deficiency can be harder to spot than you might think. Sometimes, the symptoms can appear to be related to something else, or they may be symptoms that are easily confused with another condition.
With the modern diet which is often focused on convenience and processed foods, it’s easier to become deficient in a vitamin than you might first think. Having a vitamin or nutritional deficiency can significantly impact our quality of life, making us feel fatigued and generally low in energy. You may not look your best, you may feel like you’re always sick or it can even create mental health symptoms.
It’s important to also realize that everyone is going to have different nutritional requirements. If you’re in your 20s, your needs are different from if you’ve reached middle aged. Similarly, if you’re a female you have different nutritional needs than a male, and so on.
The following are some ways to determine whether or not you could have a nutritional deficiency that needs to be addressed.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C is a well-known vitamin and most people do understand it’s important for immunity, but it has other important roles as well.
“Vitamin C improves the body’s ability to absorb iron,” according to a writer on NiftyBenefits.com. This is important to understand because while you may think you have an iron deficiency or anemia, the cause might not be the lack of iron itself, but instead of a deficiency of the Vitamin C used to absorb it.
Other signs of a vitamin C deficiency can include skin that feels rough and bumpy, hair follicles that look bright red, and fingernails that have red spots or lines throughout them. People with vitamin C deficiencies also often have nails that are thin and brittle.
Vitamin C is helpful for not only fighting illnesses and iron absorption but also for cardiovascular and mental health, as well as eye and bone health.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common issues faced by adults, particularly women. As mentioned, it may be linked to a lack of calcium, but it can also be a deficiency experienced on its own.
Iron produces red blood cells, and those cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
When iron levels are too low it can cause something called anemia. Symptoms of anemia include pale skin and hair that seems thin. Most people who suffer from anemia also frequently experience fatigue.
It’s relatively easy to become low on potassium, particularly if you frequently exercise and sweat heavily while doing so. Other reasons potassium levels could decline include the use of antibiotics or diuretics, or an illness causing nausea or vomiting. There are also certain chronic conditions, especially related to the kidneys, which can cause potassium deficiencies.
Symptoms that you’re not getting enough potassium can include feelings of tingling in the extremities or numbness, constipation and muscle weakness.
Vitamin B 12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is extremely important because it helps promote brain health. For example, B12 plays a pivotal role in the creation of neurotransmitters. Signs of a B12 deficiency can include numbness in the extremities, balance issues, anemia, fatigue and even memory loss or hallucinations.
People who are vegetarians or vegans can be at particularly high risk of not getting enough vitamin B12 because it typically comes from animal proteins such as fish and chicken. For vegans, getting enough B12 can require supplementation or eating foods where B12 is added.
Finally, it’s estimated as many as 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium. Magnesium is a key mineral linked to overall health and wellness. Some of the functions magnesium play a part in include digestion, creating energy, healthy muscles and nerves, and it also plays a pivotal role in mental health because it’s a precursor for feel-good brain neurotransmitters like serotonin.
If you’re supplementing with calcium or getting a lot of calcium and not enough magnesium, you may experience muscle spasms. There can even be severe consequences of getting too much calcium and not enough magnesium such as heart attacks.
Signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium can include a headache, fatigue, weakness, and nausea. Over time as a magnesium deficiency grows more severe, it can lead to numbness and tingling, muscle cramps, changes in heart rhythm, and even seizures or changes in personality.
Magnesium is difficult to get enough of only from your diet, but it is found in leafy green vegetables as well as some nuts and beans. Avocados also include magnesium.