10 Warning Signs Your Body Sends You When You Are Low In Vitamins

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Vitamins have hundreds of roles literally to play in the body. They boost your immune system, stimulate bone growth, support neurological function, convert food into energy, and protect our billions of cells.

In this article, we’re going to discuss ten common warning signs your body sends you when you are low in vitamins. We’ll also provide the name of vitamin or nutrient that can help reverse the symptom.  We also give you an extensive list of excellent foods for each vitamin or nutrient.

Let’s do this!

The 10 Warning Signs of a Deficiency in Vitamins

  1. Bruising

If you’ve been bruising a bit too easy, you could be deficient in vitamin C. Research shows that vitamin C helps to regulate and synthesize collagen, which is essential for the development of blood vessels. Shortage of ‘C’ can weaken the blood capillaries, making it much easier for that sneaky coffee table to leave a gnarly bruise.

An important thing to remember about vitamin C is that stress drains it. If you have an overly stressed-out life, you’ll need to replenish this essential vitamin a bit more often.

Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for Vitamin C:

65 to 90 milligrams (mg)

Sources of Vitamin C:

Berries (e.g., blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries), cantaloupe, citrus fruits (e.g., oranges and grapefruit), kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green peppers, leafy greens (e.g., cabbage, kale, spinach, turnips), squash sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

  1. Bumps on arms

If you get dry, tiny bumps and rough patches on your arms, you may be short in vitamin A or zinc. Studies show that vitamin is essential for the production and metabolism of collagen. Zinc supports wound repair and promotes skin cell growth.

The condition most commonly associated bumps and patches on the arms, buttocks, or cheeks is called keratosis pilaris. It is harmless and typically disappears by age 30.

RDI for Vitamin A:

5,000 International Units (IU)

Sources of Vitamin A: Cantaloupe, carrots, dairy products, eggs, fortified bread and cereals, leafy green vegetables (e.g., broccoli and spinach), pumpkin, red peppers, and sweet potatoes.

RDI for Zinc:

Males

  • 14+ years: 11 mg

Females

  • 19+ years: 8 mg
  • Pregnant, 14 to 18 years: 13 mg
  • Pregnant, 19+ years: 11 mg
  • Lactating, 14 to 18 years: 14 mg
  • Lactating, 19+ years: 12 mg.

Sources of Zinc: Beans, beef, dairy products, fortified bread and cereals, nuts, poultry, seafood (e.g., clams, crab, lobster, and oysters), and whole grains.

  1. Brittle, thinning hair

A long-term issue with brittle or thinning hair may stem from a lack of B vitamin or folic acid (i.e., folate). In most cases, a shortage of the former is the culprit. In a 2018 study, deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folate are both implicated potential catalysts of clinical hair loss, or alopecia. Many research papers have reported similar findings.

RDI for vitamin B12:

(Adolescents and Adults)

Males and females age 14 and older: 2.4 mcg

Pregnant teens and women: 2.6 mcg

Breastfeeding teens and women: 2.8 mcg

Sources of vitamin B12:

dairy products, eggs, fortified bread and cereals, meat, poultry, seafood (e.g., clams, haddock, salmon, trout, and tuna.)

RDI for folic acid:

400 mcg; pregnant women: 400 to 800 mcg

Sources of folate:

beans, fruits (e.g., bananas, lemons, melons), leafy green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, lettuce, and spinach), lentils, and peas.

  1. Canker sores

Canker sores are painful, white ulcer-like lesions that usually appear inside of the mouth. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is most commonly associated with canker sores.

RDI for vitamin B12:

(Adolescents and Adults)

Males and females, age 14 and older: 2.4 mcg

Pregnant teens and women: 2.6 mcg

Breastfeeding teens and women: 2.8 mcg

Sources of vitamin B12:

dairy products, eggs, fortified bread and cereals, meat, poultry, seafood (e.g., clams, haddock, salmon, trout, and tuna.)

Per the National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, vitamin B12 is better absorbed when taken with other B vitamins, including vitamin B6, magnesium, niacin, and riboflavin. Additionally, animal sources of B vitamins may be absorbed easier than plant-based sources. As such, it may be advisable for vegetarians and vegans to combine B12 with B6, magnesium, niacin, and riboflavin.

  1. Constipation

There are many reasons – at least a dozen – why one is unable to have a bowel movement. Diet-wise, the most common is a shortage of either dietary fiber, magnesium, or both. Both nutrients work to pass food, nutrients, vitamin, and other things through the intestines.

RDI for fiber:

  • Males, 18 to 50 years: 30 to 38 grams
  • Females, 18 to 50 years: 25 grams
  • Females, 51+ years: 21 grams

Sources of fiber:

Almonds, beans, berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chia seeds, cauliflower, flax seeds, green beans, onions, seed husk, sweet potatoes, whole rye.

RDI for magnesium:

  • Males, 19 to 30 years: 330 to 400 mg
  • Males, 31+ years: 350 to 420 mg
  • Females, 19 to 30 years: 255 to 310 mg
  • Females, 31+ years: 265 to 320 mg

Sources of magnesium:

Fruit (e.g., avocados, bananas, dried apricots), nuts (e.g., almonds and cashews), peas, seeds, soy (e.g., soy flour and tofu), and whole grains.

  1. Dry, flaky scalp

A dry and flaky scalp is most commonly called dandruff. Dandruff is strictly a cosmetic issue that is rather harmless. Dandruff occurs when the hair root lacks sufficient moisture in the form of sebum. Sebum is what gives the hair its “shine.” In terms of diet, a shortage of omega-3 fatty acids is a causal factor.

RDI for omega-3:

500 mg (EPA plus DHA)

Sources of omega-3:

Oily fish (e.g., herring, salmon, sardines, trout, and oysters), chia seeds, Brussels sprouts, algal oil, hemp seed, and walnuts.

  1. Fatigue

Several things can trigger fatigue. In terms of diet, a shortage of vitamin D is, by far, the most common cause. Per a gold-standard (“double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial) study published in the journal Medicine, supplementation with vitamin D “significantly improved fatigue.”

In the study, 72 percent of participants who received 100,000 IU of vitamin D reported positive results.

RDI for vitamin D:

Recommendations vary widely. The dose of 100,000 IUs used for the abovementioned significantly higher than the norm. (Most medical literature defines Vitamin D toxicity as exceeding 4,000 IU per day. As such, please consult with a physician before exceeding normal recommended levels of vitamin D or any other supplement.)

Sources of vitamin D:

Fatty fish (e.g., tuna, mackerel, and salmon), vitamin D fortified products (e.g., cereals, dairy products, orange juice, and soy milk), cheese, and egg yolks.

 

  1. Premature grey hair

Here is yet another sign that can be caused by a multitude of factors. (Yes, stress does contribute to premature greying.)

And here is another sign that is attributable to potential vitamin B12 deficiency! Studies show other possible nutrient shortages linked to premature greying to include folate and biotin. The strongest statistical association is with B12, however.

We’ve noted the RDI and food sources for vitamin B12 in numbers 3 and 4, above.

 

  1. Muscle cramps

Calcium and magnesium both serve essential functions in muscle contraction. Shortages of either nutrient can result in muscle cramps, particularly in the legs and calves. Per a study published in the journal American Family Physician, upwards of 60 percent of adults and 7 percent of children experience leg cramps. Twenty percent complain of leg cramp symptoms every day.

RDI for magnesium:

  • Males, 19 to 30 years: 330 to 400 mg
  • Males, 31+ years: 350 to 420 mg
  • Females, 19 to 30 years: 255 to 310 mg
  • Females, 31+ years: 265 to 320 mg

Sources of magnesium:

Fruit (e.g., avocados, bananas, dried apricots), nuts (e.g., almonds and cashews), peas, seeds, soy (e.g., soy flour and tofu), and whole grains.

RDI for calcium:

  • Males, 19 to 70 years: 1,000 mg
  • Females, 19 to 50 years: 1,000 mg
  • Females, 51 to 70 years: 1,300 mg
  • Adults over 70 years: 1,300 mg
  1. Unhealthy nails

Nails are an extension of your skin and therefore require the same nutrients. Breaking, peeling, and splitting nails may be triggered or exacerbated by, among other things, the condition iron-deficiency anemia. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “brittle nails or spooning of the nails” is a common symptom.

RDI for iron:

Males:

  • 14 to 18 years: 11 mg
  • 9 to 50 years: 8 mg

Females:

  • 14 to 18 years: 15 mg
  • 19 to 50 years: 19 mg
  • Pregnant (all ages): 27 mg
  • Lactating (all ages): 9 to 10 mg

All adults, 51+ years: 8 mg

Sources of iron:

Beans, fortified grains, grain products (e.g., bread and cereal), lean meat, nuts, seafood.

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Final Thoughts on Avoiding Deficiency in Vitamins

If you suspect you have a deficiency of any of the essential vitamins or minerals, be proactive. Schedule a visit with your primary care physician. They can order an easy test that will provide you with the necessary information to make changes.

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