Vitamins are an important part of our health and wellness. Without these vital nutrients, our bodies suffer greatly, both inside and out. If you are wondering if you are suffering from a vitamin deficiency, here are three well-known vitamins, their causes, symptoms, and the treatments for the lack of them in your diet. Are you deficient in any of the three vitamins mentioned below?
Vitamin D is known as "the sunshine vitamin," because it can be produced naturally in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. If you chose not to go outside though, vitamin D can also naturally be found in fish, egg yolks and certain fortified dairy products. Vitamin D has a huge impact on the strength of your bones and a number of ailments that can plague the body.
There are a number of unexpected causes of vitamin D deficiencies:
- A strict vegan diet – Vegans do not eat animal-based products or dairy, which are the primary sources of vitamin D
- Limited sunlight exposure – Since sunlight is the most natural way of obtaining the vitamin, not going outside can cause one to lack vitamin D
- Darker skin – Melanin minimizes the skin's ability to create vitamin D in response to the sun. So the more melanin you have, the harder it will be to naturally take the vitamin in
- Obesity – Fat cells take vitamin D from the blood. People with a BMI of 30 or more often have low levels of vitamin D in the blood
- Kidney trouble – As we age, our kidneys become less able to convert the vitamin, making a deficiency possible
- Medical issues – Cystic Fibrosis, celiac, and Crohn's disease can alter the intestine's absorption of vitamin D
Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can sometimes never show up or be very vague, but other symptoms can be subtle. Signs include:
- Mental impairment in older adults
- Muscle Weakness
- Bone Pain
Treatment for the deficiency is simple – either go outside or take a supplement!
Vitamin B12 is very important, because it has a huge impact on multiple activities in the body's systems. Vitamin B12 helps create your DNA, form red blood cells, maintain nerve tissue, and monitor energy release, just to name a few key benefits. Without the vitamin, a person can develop the blood disorder, pernicious anemia. Elderly people who go without the vitamin are also shown to suffer from mental decline. Vitamin B12 is not naturally created in the body, making us forced to go out and obtain it for ourselves. Eating fish, meat and dairy products are a great way to get your vitamin B12. Even eggs, certain cereals, some kinds of soy milk, and some kinds of nutritional yeast contain the vitamin.
- Gastritis – The inflammation, erosion, or irritation of the stomach lining. This includes conditions such as acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome
- Previous pernicious anemia – If you already had pernicious anemia, this ailment can make it harder for your body to take in vitamin B12
- Small intestine conditions – This includes celiac disease, Crohn's disease, short bowel syndrome, or the presence of bacteria or a parasite in the small intestines
- Disorders of the immune system – Including lupus and Grave's disease
- Veganism – Vegans, who do not eat dairy products or meats, are missing out on the primary sources of the vitamin
- Heavy drinking and antacids – Alcholism is also shown to keep the body from properly absorbing B12, as well as the use of numerous antacids and heartburn medications
Symptoms and Treatment
Although a mild vitamin B12 deficiency can sometimes be asymptomatic, symptoms for a deficiency can include:
- Pale skin
- Vision problems
- Memory loss
- Depression or behavioral changes
- Constipation, diarrhea, or gas
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue or lightheadedness
- Smooth tongue
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
Treatment can be fairly simple for vitamin B12 deficiencies. If you previously had pernicious anemia or cannot absorb the vitamin, B12 injections, oral replacement, or a nasal treatment is required. Otherwise, simply changing the diet or taking a multivitamin should do the trick. If you suffered nerve damage, however, it could possibly be unable to be treated.
Vitamin A is extremely important to eye health and has a large impact on the immune system. Although the lack of this vitamin is not as apparent in developed countries, lesser developed countries suffer many fatal losses because of the lack of this vitamin. Vitamin A can also influence a child's development. This deficiency can arguably be one of the most fatal and tragic, since it can impact the lives of children the most. This vitamin is found in citrus fruits, meats, dark greens and dairy products.
- Malnutrition – People who have a very low intake of foods, especially meats and certain vegetables
- Prenatal care – Pregnant women who are suffering from a vitamin A deficiency will more than likely give birth to a baby with a deficiency
- Post-natal care – Women who do not breastfeed or have a deficiency at the time put their children at a higher risk of being vitamin A deficient
- Massive excretion of urine – This can be caused by a UTI, pneumonia, cancer, tuberculosis or nephritis
- Abnormality in absorption – The intestinal tract's ability to absorb certain nutrients is altered, typically by conditions such as cystic fibrosis, spruce, or jaundice
- Hepatic disease – The body lacks the ability to store the vitamin because of the disease
Symptoms and Treatment
When looking for a vitamin A deficiency, the key is to pay close attention to the eyes or the general health of the person in question:
- Eye inflammation
- Respiratory infections
- Stunted growth in children
- Rough or dry skin
- Urinary infections
- Reduced vision at night or in the presence of dim light
- Dry eyes
Just as with vitamin B12, a vitamin A deficiency can be taken care of simply by eating foods rich in the vitamin or taking supplements. If the deficiency is serious, an injectable form of the vitamin will be prescribed by a doctor.