9 Signs of Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency

By Rohini Mankar | 6th Mar 2023

9 Signs of Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency

Have you ever experienced sudden hair fall or nails becoming brittle and breaking off easily? These symptoms are our body’s way of indicating probable deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies refer to the inadequate intake or absorption of essential nutrients required for the proper functioning of the body. These deficiencies can occur due to poor dietary choices, medical conditions that affect the absorption or utilization of nutrients, or lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol consumption or smoking.

Common signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Deficiencies in vitamin and mineral can lead to various health issues. Common signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies include fatigue, weakness, brittle nails, hair loss, dry skin, muscle cramps, and more. It is essential to pay attention to these symptoms and consult a healthcare professional if you suspect a deficiency. A balanced diet and supplements can help prevent deficiencies and maintain optimal health.

This article discusses the nine most common vitamin deficiency and mineral deficiency symptoms and sources of vitamins and how to deal with them.

1. Having brittle hair and nails 

Diverse factors may cause brittle hair and nails. The deficiency of biotin is one of them.

Biotin is the scientific name for vitamin B7, which aids the body in converting food into energy. Thinning, split hair and brittle nails are some apparent symptoms of otherwise rare Biotin deficiency.

Fatigue, myalgia, cramps, and tingling in the hands and feet are some more symptoms of biotin deficiency. 

Risk factors for Biotin deficiency include- 

  • Pregnant women, 
  • Heavy smokers or drinkers,
  • People with digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, 
  • People who are subjected to prolonged use of antibiotics 
  • People who use some anti-seizure medication for long periods.

Vitamin sources for brittle hair and nails – 

Food items rich in biotin are egg yolks, meats, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, yeast, whole grains, and bananas.

For pregnant women and adults (men and women 19 years and older), an adequate intake of supplements should be about 30 micrograms of biotin per day.

2. Concerned about your hair loss?

Hair loss is a prevalent symptom in 50% of adults who reach 50 years of age. Many supplements assert to prevent hair loss. A diet rich in nutrients may help prevent or reduce hair loss. Nutrients that are responsible for healthy hair are as follows –

Iron is involved in DNA synthesis. A low level of iron can cause hair fall or stops hair growth. 

Zinc is required for hair growth that involves two crucial processes: protein synthesis and cell division. 

Linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are essential fatty acids required for hair growth and maintenance. 

Niacin (vitamin B3) and Biotin (Vitamin B7) are necessary for keeping hair healthy. 

Diet recommendation for hair loss – Eggs, legumes, fish, dairy, nuts and meat are rich in niacin, biotin, zinc and iron sources.

3. Painful mouth ulcers 

Mouth ulcers or canker sores are painful lesions in and around the mouth. Mouth ulcers are associated with a Vitamin deficiency specifically vitamin B and Iron.

For example, people with mouth ulcers are more likely to have low iron levels. 

According to a review, vitamin B is highly effective and lowers the recurrence rate, increasing ulcer healing. Vitamin B supplements shorten the course of treatment. 

Foods to be included in the diet – 

Foods rich in iron include meat, fish, legumes, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, poultry and whole grains.

If you have mouth ulcers, add the food items above to your diet to see improvement in your symptoms.

4. Bleeding gums

Have you ever noticed blood on your gums while you brush your teeth? It is not just the brushing technique that is at fault. But it may be pointing towards Vitamin deficiency, especially vitamin C.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. It acts as an antioxidant that prevents cell damage. It is required for proper wound healing and boosting immunity. 

Unlike Vitamin D, vitamin C is not prepared by our bodies. Hence it is essential to consume vitamin C-rich food to maintain the level. 

Severe Vitamin C deficiency causes Scurvy, in which the immune system becomes weak, and muscles and bone become fragile. A person with Scurvy feels fatigued. 

Ensure to increase consumption of enough vitamin C by eating at least two pieces of fruit, especially citrus fruits and 3–4 portions of vegetables daily.

5. Faulty night vision 

Vitamin A is a vital nutrient for good vision. Furthermore, vitamin deficiency can cause vision problems. Rhodopsin is a photopigment found in the retinal rod cells that aid in night vision. Vitamin A is necessary to produce rhodopsin. If not rectified in time, Vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness. And if severe vitamin deficiency occurs, night blindness may progress to xerophthalmia, a clinical condition that can damage the cornea leading to blindness.

Include these in your diet as vitamin deficiency treatment and maintain good eyesight – meat, dairy, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, and yellow-orange coloured vegetables.

6. Restless leg syndrome

We notice several individuals moving their legs rigorously. It may be a sign of nervousness. However, one should pay attention to the urge to move legs. It may indicate Restless leg syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease. RLS is a nerve condition that causes unpleasant sensations in the legs. An irresistible urge to move your leg is one of the symptoms of RLS closely associated with certain mineral deficiencies. 

Though the reason for RLS is not fully understood, there appears to be a correlation between symptoms of RLS and low brain‐iron levels in a person. 

Increasing iron content in your diet by including the following food items – meat, poultry, fish, legumes, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are also beneficial. 

Boost iron absorption by Cooking in iron pots and pans and avoiding tea or coffee after meals can also help boost iron.

7. Mood swings or changes

Are you more irritable than usual? Do you feel happy at one point and enraged at the other? If the mood swings are not related to work stress, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), or Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), then these fluctuating moods could be due to vitamin deficiency.

Specific vitamins, nutrients and mineral deficiency can also affect your mental health. Omega-3 fatty acid plays a vital role in reducing the risk of depression. Likewise, vitamin B (folate) and magnesium deficiencies have also been associated with mental disorders like depression.

Rectify your deficiency by including foods rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, sardines, trout (fatty fish), spinach and nut butter. To include folate, try eating legumes, asparagus, and eggs. Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds and spinach are all great sources of magnesium.

8. Burning sensation in the feet or tongue

Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in good oral health. Being deficient in Vitamin B12 causes a burning sensation in the mouth. 

Peripheral nerve damage caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency can contribute to mobility issues over time.

Numbness in the feet and limbs can make moving difficult without assistance. Muscle weakness and decreased reflexes are also common.

Vitamin B12 levels can be enhanced by including vitamin B12-rich foods, like meat, liver, shellfish, cheese, eggs and poultry. Also, ask your doctor about vitamin B12 injections.

9. Red or white bumps on the skin

Sometimes small bumps appear on the cheek, face or thigh with ingrown hair. The condition with red or white bumps on the skin is called Keratosis pilaris. The condition occurs in childhood and disappears on its own by adulthood. 

Keratosis pilaris has a genetic basis for occurrence. However, it has also been seen in people with diets deficit in vitamins A and C.

So if you observe small red or white bumps on the skin, include food rich in vitamins A and C, such as organ meats, dairy, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, yellow-orange coloured vegetables, and fruit in your diet. And apply medicated creams over the bumps after consulting your doctor.

Conclusion 

Hair fall, brittle nails, mood swings, restless leg syndrome, and bleeding gums, these symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency are the tip of the iceberg. An improper and nutrient-deficient diet can cause several symptoms, some of which are more common than others.

Always consult a certified nutritionist or a doctor to include food items in your diet that enhance immunity. Also, talk to your doctor regarding nutrient supplements to improve overall health. 

Truemeds is an online pharmacy that provides the highest-quality medications at the lowest prices. Online pharmacy, Truemeds, provides all varieties of drugs, including branded, over-the-counter, and nutritional supplements and generic medicines online at an affordable price. One can avail of free doctor consultations if one uploads previous medication prescriptions on the Truemeds app or website. Free home delivery saves up to 72% on your medication purchased from Truemeds.

Disclaimer: This content, including advice and medications, provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more details.

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