Symptoms Of Vitamin Deficiencies
Reviewed and edited by Tripti Khanna, Masters in Food science and Nutrition
Vitamin deficiencies are common across the world. They take place for one of two reasons; a sustained lack of nutrient dense food, or the inability of the body to absorb/produce a certain micronutrient. While this can affect any age group, people above the age of 30 notice the symptoms more than anyone else. This is because the body's own metabolism and defences first start slowing down around this time.
For women, this period also often coincides with motherhood which brings with it a whole host of hormonal and physical changes, not least amongst which is the fact that the mother's body starts prioritizing the nourishment of the foetus over retaining even the bare minimum nutrients that it requires for its optimal own optimal function.
This is why expectant mothers are advised multiple prenatal health supplements, such as vitamins, iron and calcium. Without these, the mother’s supplies get severely depleted, putting her at risk for vitamin deficiency disorders, anemia and osteoporosis. This is also true for all other vital vitamins and minerals.
The symptoms of micronutrient (mineral and vitamin) deficiencies can range from mild to severe. Here are a few common ones to keep an eye out for along with the vitamins you’ll need to resolve them.
Here are 5 symptoms of vitamin deficiencies:
A common symptom of a low level of Vitamin D, many mothers experience fatigue all the time. Vitamin D keeps your energy levels up and also, enhances your mood too.
People with Vitamin D deficiency may also experience:
- frequent tiredness
- brittle bones
- falling sick often
Natural sources of Vitamin D:
- a Egg yolk has 0.925 mcg of Vitamin D
- cow milk.
How much Vitamin D do we need:
- men - 10 mg
- women and lactating mothers - 10 mg
- pregnant women - 10 mg
2. Falling sick often:
Vitamin C is the go-to vitamin when we feel that we are falling sick more often and are at risk of other various infections.
People with Vitamin C deficiency may also experience:
- dry, damaged skin
- mood changes
- oxidative stress
Natural sources of Vitamin C:
- oranges, 1 orange have 53.2 mg of Vitamin C
- 100 gms of strawberries have 58.8 mg of Vitamin C
How much Vitamin C we need:
- men - 40 mg/d
- women and lactating mothers - 40 mg/d and 80 mg/d
- pregnant women - 60 mg/d
3. Numbness in hands and feet:
This is a common symptom of a vitamin B12 deficiency. As you grow older, it becomes difficult for the body to absorb this vitamin. Moreover, since the primary source of Vitamin B12 is animal based products, vegetarians and vegans alike are susceptible to B12 deficiencies, as they do not consume any dairy or meat.
People with Vitamin B12 deficiency may also experience:
- muscle weakness
- mouth ulcers
Natural sources of Vitamin B12:
- 100 gms of eggs have 1.1 micrograms of Vitamin B12
- 100 gms of 1% fat milk contain 0.5 micrograms of Vitamin B12
How much B12 do we need:
- men - 1 micrograms/d
- women and lactating mothers - 1 micrograms/d and 1.2 micrograms/d
- pregnant women - 1micrograms/d
4. Dry Eyes:
Eye problems are generally because of Vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is required to develop resistance against infections, red blood cell production, sustain and reproduction.
People with Vitamin A deficiency may also experience:
- chest infections
- delayed wound healing
- dry skin
Natural sources of Vitamin A:
- 1 egg has 520 IU of Vitamin A
- 100 gm of orange has 225 IU of Vitamin A
How much Vitamin A do we need:
- men - 600 micrograms/d
- women and lactating mothers - 600 micrograms/d and 950 micrograms/d
- pregnant women - 800 micrograms/d
5. Lack of concentration:
Low Zinc may cause several problems, which may not be noticeable straight away. Zinc can lead to foggy thinking because Zinc is important for cognitive function.
People with Zinc deficiency may also experience:
- decreased sense of smell and taste
- loss of appetite
- delay in healing wounds
Natural sources of Zinc:
- 1 egg has 1.2 mg of Zinc
- whole grains
How much B12 do we need:
- men - 12mg/d
- women and lactating mothers - 10mg/d and 12mg/d
- pregnant women - 12mg/d
The requirement for new moms to replenish their nutrient reserves to avoid vitamin deficiencies extends well beyond pregnancy and should ideally be continued until such time as they are able to achieve the required level of vitamin intake through their regular food consistently.
Paying attention to all 3 components (micronutrients, macronutrients and water) of one’s diet can help abate the above-mentioned symptoms. However, this takes a fair amount of planning, time and effort and needs to be observed consistently.
Our lifestyles do not always give us the luxury of planning our meals according to the vitamins that we require on a daily basis. Vitamin supplements are a great way to combat these deficiencies without literally eating into your time. They are effective, convenient and keep your vitamin and overall health game strong!