Flaking nails can indicate an iron deficiency.
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Flaking nails, a twitching eyelid, scaly skin: these seemingly random symptoms are easy to fix, but if they persist, they could be signs of a vitamin or nutrient deficiency.
"Stay in tune with your body, and if you notice anything unusual, don't ignore it," says the registered nutritionistJerlyn Jones, RDN, Atlanta-based owner of The Lifestyle Dietitian LLC and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition.
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"If a vitamin deficiency is causing the problem, the sooner you address it, the easier it can be corrected with a change in your diet or a supplement," she said.
What are the symptoms of a vitamin deficiency? As you will see below, they can vary greatly depending on which vitamin the body is lacking.
Here we look at eight signs your system might be out of whack — plus simple diet adjustments and tips to get you back on track.
8 surprising symptoms of vitamin deficiency
1. Your joints feel stiff
The possible culprit:An aching body can indicate that you are low on energysun vitamin. "Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium, which is one of the main building blocks of bones," says Jones. "If you don't get enough of it, either through food or sunlight, it can lead to loss of bone density and pain."
The repair:So how do you get more of this nutrient? "You can eat D-rich foods like salmon and egg yolks," says Jones, "but it's difficult to get adequate amounts through diet alone."
The easiest way to increase your D levels is to spend time in the sun. In fact, vitamin D produced in the skin by exposure to sunlight can stay in the body at least twice as long as when the vitamin is ingested, according to a review in the April-June 2012 issue of Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics.
But sun exposure can also increase your risk of skin cancer. Using sunscreen can limit the amount of D you get, but it's worth preventing this deadly diseaseYale medicine.
If you're African American, you're more prone to vitamin D deficiency because higher levels of melanin in your skin block absorption. The above report reports that it takes darker skinned people three to five times as long in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as lighter skinned people.
People living in cold climates are also at higher risk as they may not get enough sun exposure. "In those cases, you most likely need a supplement," says Jones.
But be careful when making your own supplements - theVitamin-D-Ratwarns that too much vitamin D can lead to toxicity, so it's best to seek advice from your doctor.
"Have your vitamin D status checked every four to six months," says Jones. "If it's too low, your doctor will probably write you a prescription."
2. Peel your nails
The possible culprit:Brittle tips are usually due to an outside factor — like picking at your polish, frequent use of hand sanitizer, or wearing acrylic nails.
But if both toenailsAndFingernails can break easily, you may not have enough iron. "Iron deficiency leads to limited oxygen supply to organs, muscles and tissues," says Jones. "A possible side effect of this reduced oxygen flow is peeling and brittle nails."
The repair:Integrate plentyiron rich foodsinto your meals.
The no-brainer is meat, but if you're on a plant-based diet, leafy greens, baked potatoes with their skins, and broccoli are also good sources. For pescetarians: try shrimp, scallops, clams and sardines.
“Consuming iron-rich foods along withVitamin Ccan increase absorption,” says Jones. "For example, if you're sautéing spinach, throw in red peppers or tomatoes."
Another tip: cook with cast iron. In a classic July 1986 study published inJournal of the American Dietetic Association Researchers tested 20 foods cooked in either cast-iron or glass-ceramic cookware and found that cast-iron pots and pans significantly increased the iron content of 90 percent of the foods — particularly acidic foods with a high moisture content that were cooked for long periods of time were of the time, like applesauce and tomato sauce.
A small study of 27 preschool children was recently published and published in December 2013 in the Journal of Indian Pediatricsfound that cooking snacks in cast iron increased iron levels by 16 percent; After four months of taking it, the children had a 7.9 percent higher hemoglobin level.
Check your nails a few weeks after making these changes. If they're still weak, have your doctor test your iron levels. "For severe deficiency, your doctor may give you an iron pill — drink it with orange juice for best results," says Jones.
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3. One of your eyes twitches
The possible culprit: The technical term is myopenia, and there are a variety of causes, from fatigue and stress to consuming too much caffeine and alcoholMayo Clinic.
But your eyelids could also cramp if you're low on magnesium. And according to a March 2012 study in nutritional assessments48 percent of Americans are magnesium deficient.
Luckily, increasing your intake is relatively easy.
The repair:“Nuts and seeds – especiallypumpkin seeds– are rich in magnesium,” says Jones. "Sprinkle some on your oatmeal or salad, or mix 1/2 cup into a smoothie."
Also, look for fortified breakfast cereals (they contain extra nutrients, including magnesium), and stick to either whole grains or white rice and bread that say "fortified" on the packaging.
4. You've been feeling "out of it" lately.
The possible culprit: Even if you get enough sleep and don't fight a cold, you drag yourself. Your muscles are weak and you have to force yourself out of bed in the morning; You're having trouble staying on task and you've been in a blah-blah mood. What gives?
Feeling exhausted could be evidence of aVitamin B12Shortage. B12 is key to red blood cell production, likeJohns Hopkins Medicineexplained. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your system. So when they don't work efficiently, you feel exhausted.
As for Brain Fog and the Blues, according to a 2016 study published in the journalCurrent Medicinal Chemistryhas demonstrated thatB-Vitamineare an integral part of neuronal function and that a deficiency can lead to depression.
The repair:Jones suggests fortifying your diet with B12 power foods like whole grains, liver, and seafood like salmon, tuna, mussels, and trout.
"B12 deficiency is relatively common in vegans and vegetarians because it mainly comes from animal protein," she points out. "If you don't eat meat, ask your doctor to test your levels. You may have to take oneMultivitaminor supplement."
According to the NIH, the average adult should consume about 2.4 micrograms of B12 daily. Three ounces of salmon, tuna, or trout is more than enough, and a cup of milk or low-fat yogurt will get you halfway there.
5. You bruise easily
The possible culprit:You might bump into your desk the next morning and find a gnarled black-blue on your thigh. You may get nosebleeds for no apparent reason. Or maybe your periods were heavier than usual or your gums bled when you floss.
Too little vitamin K could be to blame. "Vitamin K is a coagulator that helps your blood clot properly," he saysHeidi Moretti, RD, a clinical nutritionist and nutrition researcher. "If your levels are low, it can lead to excessive bleeding and bruising."
The repair:You can find vitamin K in fermented foods like sauerkraut and aged cheese, as well as in vegetables.
If eating more of these foods isn't enough, "try a quality vitamin K2 supplement that's natural rather than synthetic," says Moretti. (Scan the label and if you see ingredients that start with the “dl” prefix, they are factory made ingredients.)
6. Your skin is super dry
The possible culprit:Dandruff and flakes are common side effects of dry fall and winter air, but they can also be an indication that you're low in fatty acids, reports theNational Health Institute. Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in moisture retention, according to an August 2018 review in the magazinesea drugs.
And the skin benefits don't stop there: According to theLinus-Pauling-Institut an der Oregon State University, Fatty acid absorption leads to higher UV protection, fewer wrinkles, plumper skin and a more even complexion.
The repair:Prepare a breakfast rich in omega-3 fatty acids by mixing walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds into your cereal or oatmeal. Bite into a piece of avocado toast or crack open a can of sardines for lunch.
If you go out for dinner, order salmon instead of chicken. "Get as much fatty acid as possible from food alone," he saysMelissa Halas-Liang, RD, spokesman for the California Dietetic Association. "If you still think you're missing something, make an appointment with a registered dietitian to discuss a supplement."
7. You lose your sense of smell
The possible culprit:A sudden loss of smell or taste can be a symptom of some diseases and is often associated with the coronavirus, especially nowadays.
However, in some cases, the loss of smell can be associated with vitamin deficiencies. In terms of which nutrient deficiencies may contribute to a decreased sense of smell, findings often point to B12. Because taste and smell are so closely linked, a diminished sense of taste is also sometimes linked to a lack of B12.
Severe B12 deficiency can damage nerves throughout the body — including those needed to keep the olfactory system working.
As a result, people with severe vitamin B12 levels could lose or decrease their sense of smell, according to an October 2016 study in theInternational Forum for Allergy & Rhinologyfound and added that further research is needed to substantiate these initial results.
The repair:If you are concerned that you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency due to a loss of smell, you should consult your doctor. Of course, getting enough B12 in your diet is always a good idea.
Including B12 in your diet can help prevent vitamin deficiencies that can affect your sense of smell. According to Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute, adults are recommended to consume about 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily.
In some cases, digestive problems can prevent proper absorption of these vitamins. If you have a digestive disorder, consult your doctor to discuss the risks of developing B12 deficiency and how best to prevent ittensions.
Vitamin B12 injections or nasalGels can help alleviate a deficiency but cannot reverse the nerve damage that causes the loss of smell.
Ask your doctor about getting your B12 levels checked if you're a vegan, have had weight-loss surgery, or have a medical condition that affects food absorption.
8. Your gums are bleeding
The potential culprit: bleeding gumsare a sign of poor dental health, usually caused by inadequate tooth cleaning and preventive care. These sensitive gums can bea sign of gingivitisor periodontitis, or it could be a vitamin deficiency that can cause bleeding gums.
While defects inVitamin CAndVitamin Kare fairly rare, each has been associated with bleeding gums. Review February 2021 innutritional assessmentsfound that low levels of vitamin C in the blood were associated with an increased risk of bleeding gums on gentle probing. So it's possible that a vitamin C deficiency can cause bleeding gums.
People with vitamin K deficiency are more likely to bruise and bleed, including gumsUS National Library of Medicine.
The repair: If after a visit to the dentist you find that your oral health is fine despite bleeding gums, talk to your doctor to check your vitamin C and K levels. He may recommend you eat more foods with these vitamins. a supplement routine or other treatment.
The researchers of the study in nutritional assessments found that increasing your vitamin C intake can help solve the problem — so it's possible you're eating more citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, and moreFoods with vitamin CTaking it may provide some relief.
The same may be the case with vitamin K deficiency, although more research is needed. Foods like leafy greens like kale, spinach, turnip greens and collards, fish, and cruciferous greens are good sources of the vitamin. Your doctor may also suggest a supplement for you.
While any of the above symptoms could indicate a vitamin or mineral deficiency, they could also be caused by something more serious. It's always best to make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any medical conditions.
vitamin deficiency diseases
Certain vitamin deficiencies are disease-related. Micronutrient deficiencies, including vitamin deficiencies, can affect anyone, although young children and pregnant women are more likely to be affected in certain developing countries than others, the researchers saidWorld Health Organization(WER).
Deficiency diseases are diseases caused by a prolonged lack of certain essential nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals, in the diet.
Vitamin deficiencies can be caused by an unhealthy diet, starvation, or certain medical conditions that make it difficult to absorb nutrients. The symptoms associated with vitamin deficiency diseases - and their likelihood - vary depending on the disease and its severity.
For example, while vitamin A deficiency diseases are not common in the United States, they are common in developing countries. Vitamin A deficiency can cause temporary and permanent eye damage. It can even lead to vision loss and is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindnessWER.
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The following list of vitamin deficiency diseases can help you better understand certain terms and symptoms.
Rickets: A vitamin D deficiency
Rickets is a disease that causes soft, weak bones in childrenUS National Library of Health. It often occurs when children don't get enough vitamin D, which helps growing bones absorb the minerals calcium and phosphorus. It can also happen when calcium or phosphorus levels are too low.
Rickets is rare in the US. Treatments include replacing calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D that are lacking in the diet.
Beriberi: A vitamin B1 deficiency
The symptoms you see on the B vitamin deficiency list depend on what type of B vitamin it is. In the case of beriberi, this condition is caused by a lack of thiamine or vitamin B1US National Library of Medicine.
Beriberi is an uncommon condition in people in the United States because most foods consumed within the country are fortified with vitamins.
In the US, beriberi is most commonly seen in people dealing with alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to poor nutrition and make it harder for a person's body to absorb and store thiamine.
Pellagra: A vitamin B3 deficiency
Pellagra, also known as vitamin B3 deficiency, occurs when a person does not get adequate amounts of niacin (B3) or tryptophanUS National Library of Medicine. Tryptophan is one of 20 standard amino acids. Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin that supports the digestive system, skin, and nerves.
The most common cause of pellagra is insufficient amounts of niacin or tryptophan in the diet. This condition also occurs when a person's body cannot absorb these nutrients or after certain gastrointestinal disorders or alcoholism.
Pellagra usually manifests itself in populations that consume large amounts of untreated corn. Common signs and symptoms associated with pellagra include delusions, diarrhea, inflamed mucous membranes, mental confusion, and scaly sores on a person's skin.
Niacin supplements are often prescribed to treat pellagra.