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How Do Vitamin Deficiencies Affect My Health | 281-809-5470
 
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How Do Vitamin Deficiencies Affect My Health?

May 29, 2023

What is Vitamin Deficiency? 

When the body does not receive an adequate amount of a specific vitamin or vitamins necessary for proper functioning and health they will experience a vitamin deficiency. Vitamins are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts to carry out various physiological processes, such as metabolism, cell growth, immune function, and energy production.

There are 13 essential vitamins classified into two categories: fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate).

A deficiency can occur due to several reasons:

  • Inadequate Intake: Not consuming enough foods rich in specific vitamins, such as a poor diet or limited variety in food choices, can lead to a deficiency.
  • Poor Absorption: Certain medical conditions affecting the digestive system, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or gastric bypass surgery, can impair the absorption of vitamins from food.
  • Increased Requirement: Some life stages or conditions, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, rapid growth in childhood, or certain illnesses, may increase the body’s need for specific vitamins.
  • Medications or Medical Treatments: Certain medications or medical treatments may interfere with the absorption or utilization of vitamins in the body, leading to deficiencies.

Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin deficiency can cause a number of symptoms, including fatigue, dry skin and hair, depression, poor wound healing, and more. While they can vary between deficiencies, many of them overlap.

Usually, noticeable effects don’t begin to develop until you’ve had low levels for several months.

Fatigue and Weakness

If you feel sleepy or sluggish all the time, you may be deficient in vitamin D, any of the B vitamins, and/or vitamin C.

Vitamin D helps with bone and muscle strength, so when you don’t have enough, you may feel weak and lack energy. Some research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is linked to fatigue and that taking vitamin D supplements can improve this symptom.

Vitamin C and all B vitamins except folate (B9) are involved in producing energy in your cells, so being deficient in any of them can leave you feeling wiped out. It can also have a major impact on your metabolism and overall health.

Folate deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness by causing anemia. In that condition, your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your tissues. That oxygen is essential for proper function and energy.

Dry Skin and Hair

Dry skin and hair are common symptoms of deficiencies in:

  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D

Some of these vitamins are commonly used in skincare and haircare products. Ask your healthcare provider whether dietary sources, supplements, or topical (on the skin) use is best for improving skin and hair health.

Use caution with vitamin A (retinol) products, however. High levels can actually harm your skin.

Depression

Vitamin deficiencies can sometimes be associated with clinical depression. They include:

  • Vitamins B1, 3, 6, 9, 12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D

Supplements may help alleviate depression, but they’re not a replacement for antidepressants.12 Don’t stop taking your medication or add supplements to your regimen without first talking to your healthcare provider.

Easy Bruising or Bleeding

Easy bruising and bleeding can happen due to problems with blood clotting, poor healing, or collagen formation. (Collagen gives strength to the walls of blood vessels.)

Essential vitamin deficiencies that can contribute to easy bruising or bleeding are:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K, especially in newborn babies

Deficiencies of these vitamins are fairly uncommon, however. If you start bruising or bleeding easily, don’t just assume a deficiency is causing it.

Poor Wound Healing

Poor wound healing means that your sores take especially long to heal. A lot of essential vitamins contribute to the healing process. Some aid in collagen creation, others help with rebuilding different types of cells or tissues, and others promote cellular health through antioxidant activity.

Vitamin deficiencies that can contribute to poor wound healing include:

  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D (when combined with zinc and arginine)
  • Vitamin K

Predisposition to Infections

Some vitamin deficiencies affect your immune system and can make you more likely to get infections and infectious diseases. These include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D

A vitamin A deficiency is particularly dangerous when it comes to infection risk. It can predispose you to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Malaria
  • Measles
  • Respiratory disease
  • Chronic ear infections

Bone Fractures

Essential vitamins that keep your bones strong and healthy include vitamins A, B6, B9, B12, C, D, and K.

While research shows deficiencies in any of these vitamins can lower your bone density and lead to fractures, it’s not clear whether nutritional supplements lower the fracture risk.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to protect your bone health.

Skin Color Changes

Skin color changes due to vitamin deficiency can manifest in a few different ways: loss of pigmentation in spots, darker pigmentation in spots, or generally pale skin.

Loss of pigmentation and light-colored spots may result from deficiencies in:

  • Vitamin D (in light-skinned people)

Darker pigmentation can be due to:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D (in dark-skinned people)

Deficiencies that can cause generally pale skin include:

Vitamin C

Vitamin B6, 9, 12

Supreme Medical Center in Houston

When it comes to getting better fast, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with your physician at the first sign of illness. At Supreme Medical Center our doctors work with you to treat your symptoms and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time.

 

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