Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin deficiencies can occur to anyone for a number of reasons including illness, alcoholism and stress. Many people could have a mild vitamin deficiency and not realize it. There are certain health conditions and symptoms that are related to certain vitamin deficiencies. Learn about the symptoms of a vitamin deficiency.

There can be certain symptoms or medical conditions that show up if you are deficient in certain vitamins. This should be used as a guide and not the bottom line truth. There are more accurate tests that you should take at your doctor’s office if you feel you are deficient in a certain vitamin.

It is not uncommon to have a mild deficiency in certain vitamins considering today’s highly processed foods, fast food and junk food diets. Conditions other than a poor diet can also cause a person to become deficient in a number vitamins and nutrients. Conditions such as stress, illness, medications and alcoholism to name a few can cause a deficiency in one or more vitamins.

Severe vitamin deficiency might be fairly rare in most countries, but in some countries where there is conflict, famine or chronic food shortages, nutritional deficiencies are not rare at all.  Here are some of the symptoms of vitamin deficiencies.

Water-soluble Vitamins

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiencies:

  • Bleeding or inflamed gums
  • Increased infections
  • Increased colds
  • Easily bruised and wounds that take a long time to heal
  • Sore and achy joints
  • Dry skin
  • Scurvy is rare in most areas, but it is a disease of a serious vitamin C deficiency

Thiamin (Vitamin B1) Deficiency Symptoms:

  • A rare but serious health condition is beriberi
  • Muscle weakness
  • Mental confusion or inability to think clearly

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Eyes can be sensitive to light
  • Sore throat
  • Inflammation, swollen, red and itchy skin (dermatitis) around the nose and lips.
  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth

Niacin (Vitamin B3) Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • A weakness feeling
  • Irritable
  • Mental confusion.
  • Severe deficiencies in niacin can cause pellagra.

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • High levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with a higher risk of heart or cardiovascular conditions.

Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Pernicious anemia
  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes
  • Some strict vegetarians or vegans might not get enough B12 through diet and should consider a B12 supplement.

Deficiencies in Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) and B7 (Biotin) are uncommon since it is in most foods and everyone should be able to get enough of these vitamins through their diet.

The B vitamins are important for mental clarity and thinking. If you should feel abnormally confused, having a hard time concentrating, irritable or symptoms of anxiety, taking a vitamin B complex can help.

Fat-soluble Vitamins

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiencies:

  • Night blindness
  • Diarrhea and intestinal infections
  • Can cause blindness in children and is the leading cause of preventable blindness in developing countries.
  • Can cause a higher rate of respiratory illnesses.

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Rickets is a severe condition of vitamin D deficiency and is rare in most countries.
  • Recent studies are finding that many people are deficient in vitamin D. This could be because many are not in the sun as much as people used to be or that they use sunscreen when in the sun. The sun is a major source of vitamin D. New research believes that even a mild deficiency can lead to more illness like colds and the flu and a weakened immune system. Vitamin D deficiencies can also lead to osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiencies:

  • A deficiency in vitamin K can cause excessive bleeding since vitamin K helps blood to clot. This would include easy bruising and bloody noses. It is very important that you talk to your doctor if you take any blood thinner medications like Coumadin or Warfarin, since vitamin K can interfere with these drugs.

Vitamin E:

  • A deficiency in vitamin E would be almost impossible unless you were on a starvation diet since there is an abundance of vitamin E in food. Certain health conditions like cholestasis liver disease and cystic fibrosis impair the body’s ability to absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins and could cause a deficiency in vitamin E.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body and taking huge doses of these of these fat-soluble vitamins can lead to toxic conditions. Getting the fat-soluble vitamins from the foods in your diet will not lead to any toxic conditions. For more about these vitamins, you can read The Difference Between Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble Vitamins.

Anemia is a condition that shows up with several different vitamin deficiencies, yet many people are not aware that they are anemic. One interesting symptom that often shows up in people who are anemic is an addiction or craving to chewing ice. You can learn more about this at Why Some People Are Addicted to Eating Ice.

Conclusion

These are symptoms of vitamin deficiencies and should only be used as a guideline. Just because you have a bout of diarrhea does not mean you are deficient in some vitamins, it could mean you ate something that didn’t agree with your stomach or a mild stomach flu. If any of the above symptoms persist, you should talk to your doctor.

Copyright © Sam Montana - February 2012

Resources

Cover Photo by Colin Dunn / Flickr.com

Oregon State University – Linus Pauling Institute

Colorado State University

 

 

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