There are essential nutrients for the body, including minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water. Without these, our bodies wouldn’t be able to function. Of course, vitamins are counted among those vital nutrients as well. There are 13 vitamins that are essential for keeping the body working properly: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate).
Deficiencies in any of these vitamins can lead to health problems in the long-term and, as such, should be avoided as best as possible. Here, we’re going to look at common signs of vitamin deficiencies that you should pay attention to.
Changes in your hair and nails
Our hair and nails can change over time. However, if you find that they are starting to become brittle, then it’s a good sign of a lack of biotin. This can come along with other physical symptoms like fatigue, muscle pain, and cramps. You can up your biotin intake by eating more eggs, fish, meat – especially organ meats such as liver – as well as nuts, seeds, and some vegetables, including sweet potatoes and avocados.
If you’ve started to notice that your skin is getting bumpy and rougher to the touch, then it could be because you’re not producing as much collagen as you should be. Collagen production can slow with age, but if the change comes suddenly, then you should find a doctor near you, as you may have a vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C deficiencies, also known as scurvy, can lead to serious illnesses if left untreated, including complications like anemia, exhaustion, pain in the limbs, and even mouth ulcers and tooth loss. Citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, potatoes, and broccoli are all rich in vitamin C and can help prevent this deficiency.
Back pain or bone pain
Many of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, including changes in mood, fatigue, and an increased rate of catching illnesses, are common among multiple deficiencies. However, vitamin D plays an important role in helping absorb calcium to build bones and teeth. As such, if you don’t have enough vitamin D in your blood, then you may be more likely to experience bone pain, including chronic back pain. Chronic vitamin D deficiencies can lead to a loss in bone density, which can contribute to conditions such as osteoporosis in later life, so this is a vital deficiency to treat. Eating more salmon, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified cereals is a great place to start.
Numbness and fatigue
If you feel like parts of your body are feeling numb, such as your legs, hands, or feet, and you’re also feeling weak or fatigued, then you may be lacking vitamin B12. Symptoms of anemia are common across vitamin deficiencies, but since vitamin B12 plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, it can be especially common as a result. B12 is most commonly found in animal products, such as fish, chicken, and dairy – especially yogurt and milk – so try to incorporate more of these foods into your daily diet.
As mentioned, mouth ulcers can be symptoms of other deficiencies, including vitamin C deficiencies, but they are a very common sign of not having enough B vitamins or iron. Many of the B vitamins, such as thiamine and riboflavin, are only necessary in small amounts. They can be found widely in whole grains, meat, eggs, fish, and dairy, as well as green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale.
Although not one of the more common deficiencies, a lack of vitamin A is still important to treat. One of the most notable symptoms is night blindness, which is the sudden difficulty in seeing at night. In fact, if left untreated, you can become entirely unable to see at night. Vitamin A deficiencies affect the eyes in a variety of ways, including a condition that leads the eyes to become dry and crusted, which can eventually damage parts of the eye such as the cornea and retina. Vitamin A deficiencies are also associated with problems with fertility, so they should be taken seriously.
If you suspect a vitamin deficiency, your first step should be setting up an appointment with your primary care provider to test for it. If you do find that you have a deficiency, then the best way to treat it is to eat more foods rich in those vitamins. Your doctor may also recommend that you take vitamin supplements, which can be taken as an injection or by mouth.