When you aren't getting enough of certain vitamins, your body cannot work at peak efficiency. Over time, this can turn up as seemingly random symptoms that might go unnoticed if you aren't looking for them. If you experience one or more of these common signs of vitamin deficiency, think about your diet to see if you might be missing any of the major players. Even better, ask your doctor for a blood test to check your nutritional profile for missing nutrients.
1. Changes in Hair, Skin or Nails
According to Podiatry Today, this is often one of the first signs of deficiency. If your nails were once hard and strong, but have suddenly started splitting or cracking, it could be a sign of missing nutrients. Similarly, if your hair suddenly starts falling out, or becomes weak and brittle, or your skin becomes dry and irritated, it could indicate a deficiency. Common nutrients that may be lacking include B vitamins, particularly biotin and vitamin B12, as well as omega fatty acids.
2. Leg Cramps
Muscle cramping is often a sign of vitamin deficiency, and this often shows up as nocturnal leg cramps. Consider your intake of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 to see if you may be lacking some vital nutrients.
3. Neurological Symptoms
The connection between neurological symptoms and vitamin deficiency is only beginning to be understood. Patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, restless legs syndrome, and even schizophrenia have been later identified as simply suffering from vitamin deficiencies. Peripheral neuropathy, a disorder that often occurs as a complication of diabetes, may also occur due to deficiencies of B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, or omega fatty acids.
Anemia is commonly associated with iron deficiency, but did you know that deficiencies in vitamin B12 or folic acid can also lead to anemia? If you have been feeling inexplicably tired lately, or experience physical symptoms such as pallor or 'spooning' of the nails, in which the fingernails take on a concave appearance, you may be experiencing anemia.
5. Frequent Minor Illnesses
It can be easy to ignore frequent colds, flus or general aches and pains, but if you are often sick, your body might be lacking something. When you are deficient in certain vitamins, your immune system suffers, and it starts becoming harder to fight off foreign invaders. If it seems to be taking you longer than usual to get over a stubborn cold or flu, or if you seem to pass from one illness to the next, take a hard look at your diet. Could something be missing?
A Word of Caution
Each of these symptoms can indicate a vitamin deficiency, but many of them can also indicate more serious disorders. Some disorders, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease, can interfere with vitamin absorption and cause deficiencies. In this case, simply taking a vitamin supplement will not be enough to correct your disorder. In other cases, issues such as thyroid disease or diabetes can cause similar problems, and warrant the immediate attention of a qualified physician. These signs are meant to be a warning something is amiss, but not diagnostic criteria. If you feel your health is suffering for any reason, contact your health care provider for a complete check up and evaluation.