4 Most Common Vitamin Deficiencies

Most people think of nutrient deficiency as something that used to happen to pirates and other people who lacked access to healthy foods. But surprisingly, nutrient deficiencies are still reasonably common. Even though most people have easier access to food than previous generations ever had, much of the food consumed in the standard American diet is nutritionally poor. For this reason, vitamin deficiencies are still commonly found in people of all ages.

If you think you may be dealing with a vitamin deficiency, there are a few symptoms that could confirm your suspicions. Here are four of the most common vitamin deficiencies and their associated symptoms.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a very important vitamin for both mental and physical health. It helps boost immunity and helps combat diabetes, cancer and other diseases. It also helps strengthen muscles and bones. There are two main ways the body gets vitamin D—food and sunlight. Fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and liver are all excellent food sources of vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight also stimulates the body to create vitamin D.

Many people are deficient in vitamin D without even knowing it. Some people may not get sufficient sunlight exposure to create vitamin D. Others may not be able to convert sunlight into vitamin D. Still efficiently, others may not eat sufficient vitamin D-rich foods to maintain healthy levels of this vitamin in their bodies.

Whatever the cause may be, deficient vitamin D levels are associated with the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Bone loss
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis

If you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement and increase your intake of fatty fish and other vitamin D-rich foods.

2. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (also known as cyanocobalamin) helps maintain nerve cell health and is required to form red blood cells. It is easy to get vitamin B12 from animal-based products (such as poultry, red meat, milk and fish). Despite its abundance in these products, many people are still deficient in vitamin B12. Vegetarians and vegans need to be especially careful to ensure they get enough vitamin B12 from the plant-based products they eat.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Sore tongue
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Yellow or pale skin
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Headaches

Vitamin B12 supplementation can help minimize the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. For vegetarians or vegans, good food sources of vitamin B12 include fortified cereals, nutritional yeast and fortified non-dairy milk products.

3. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) is important for brain development. It also has important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. People with autoimmune diseases are more likely to have vitamin B6 deficiencies.

Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include:

  • Sore or cracked lips
  • Skin rashes
  • Mood swings (including irritability and depression)
  • Glossy, sore tongue
  • Weakened immune function
  • Tingling in the feet and hands
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures

Foods that are high in vitamin B6 include bananas, turkey breast, pork, fish, prunes, and baked potatoes (with skin). You can also supplement with this important vitamin.

4. Folic Acid

Folic acid is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for pregnant women and infants. Deficient folic acid can lead to neural tube defects in children, which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates that all cereal grain products be fortified with this nutrient.

Folic acid deficiency symptoms include:

  • Premature gray hair
  • Growth problems
  • Fatigue
  • Tongue swelling
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Mouth sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

Good food sources of folic acid include vegetables, fruits and fortified cereals. If you don’t consume enough folate-rich foods, your folate levels can become deficient in a matter of weeks.

If you’re concerned that you may have a vitamin deficiency, it’s important to try to rectify it as soon as possible. Good health starts with what you put into your body, so focus on eating nutrient-dense foods and limiting your intake of nutrient-poor foods and treats.

The 5 Best Vitamins for Your Joints if You’re an Active Senior

Often, I hear people say they’re surprised I’m so “active for my age.” I have to admit, there’s a big part of me that’s proud when I hear such things, and a small part of me that feels a little indignant. Why do people automatically expect the seniors in their lives to become fragile and immobile? I certainly don’t subscribe to that idea!

But I have to be honest. Within the past few years, I’ve noticed more joint pain than usual. So I decided to look into supplements (specifically vitamins) and learn which nutrients can help minimize my joint pain. I found out that these are the best vitamins for the active senior to take for joint support.

1. Vitamin D

I like to call Vitamin D the Captain America of the vitamin world. I mean, this guy is no lightweight! Vitamin D is touted to help all kinds of things, from general immunity to your mood. It turns out that taking a vitamin D supplement can also help relieve joint discomfort.

Vitamin D is great for bone health because it reduces inflammation in the joints and it helps your body absorb calcium (which is one of the most important components in your bones). If you’re not a fan of supplements, try getting more of this important vitamin from fish, whole milk (or fortified milk), cod liver oil, mushrooms, eggs and cheese.

2. Vitamin K

You’ve probably heard of vitamin D and how important it is for your health, but when’s the last time you heard someone say you should increase your consumption of vitamin K? Though it’s talked about much less than most other vitamins, vitamin K is essential for good bone formation.

This unassuming vitamin helps to make bones strong by activating proteins that help with bone mineralization and formation. It’s important to note that vitamin K deficiencies aren’t very common. Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets. Foods such as spinach, broccoli, eggs, liver, and strawberries are all high in vitamin K.

If you think your body could use a boost of this important bone-health ingredient, try supplementing with it. There are no known risks of taking too much vitamin K, but it is best to carefully follow the recommended daily intake instructions on your vitamin K supplement packaging.

3. Vitamin C

Scientists have done some research on vitamin C and its role in bone health, and the results are very interesting. It appears that vitamin C stimulates the cells responsible for building bone. It also enhances the effects of vitamin D on bone metabolism and aids calcium absorption. Who knew?

Vitamin C also plays a role in forming collagen (an important component of bones). Research also shows that this lovely vitamin may help prevent osteoporosis. So load up on these foods that are packed full of vitamin C: bell peppers, cruciferous vegetables, Guava fruit, kiwifruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

4. Vitamin E

You probably already know that vitamin E is really great for your skin, but did you know it can help reduce oxidative stress on joint cartilage as well? Some studies show that vitamin E helps reduce joint pain more than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs!

Foods high in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, nuts, avocado, salmon, mango, kiwifruit, and wheat germ oil. Add these foods to your diet or supplement with vitamin E to boost joint comfort and health.

5. B Vitamins

B vitamins are great for energy, and they can also help reduce joint pain. Vitamin B12, in particular, reduces the amino acid homocysteine (which is usually high in people with rheumatoid arthritis). You can get vitamin B12 from organ meats, fortified cereal, beef, and tuna.

So there you have it! A list of delicious, natural foods that are packed full of joint-healthy vitamins. Try to incorporate these foods into your diet and consider supplementing with the above-mentioned vitamins if you think you’re deficient.