Low Energy and 8 Surprising Signs of Vitamin Deficiency

October 29, 2021 6 min read

When we miss out on essential vitamins and minerals our bodies do everything in their power to signal that something is out of balance. Here are 9 surprising signs of vitamin deficiency you might be missing.

 

DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR NUTRITIONAL NEEDS INCREASE AS YOU AGE?

This is the main reason why most nutritionists recommend that their patients over 50 take a high-quality multivitamin as a nutritional "safety net" to fill in any gaps and decrease the chances for various deficiencies.

 

signs of vitamin deficiency senior couple


THE OLDER WE GET, THE MORE SUPPLEMENTATION MATTERS...

So why is it so much more difficult to get sufficient amounts of crucial vitamins and minerals from diet alone as we age? 

It mainly has to do with your body's decreased ability to properly digest and absorb key nutrients from food. Stomach acid is needed to break down vital nutrients from food, but unfortunately, we naturally begin to lose stomach acid as we age. 

This leaves us less able to metabolize key vitamins and many of them end up being expelled from the body.

senior person with vitamin deficiency


VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES CAN MORE EASILY GO UNNOTICED...

Essentially, your body will require higher amounts of essential vitamins in order to make up the difference for vitamins that go unabsorbed. In addition to this, ailing body parts (such as achy joints) can also benefit greatly from an increased dose of certain vitamins that aid in healing and cell rejuvenation.

Decreased appetite and mobility or dental issues can also both play a role in increasing the risk of vitamin deficiency in adults over 50.

signs of vitamin deficiency: dental issues


But it's not only older groups that can experience vitamin deficiencies. In fact, it can happen to any one of us. This is especially true in groups of people who follow a poorly balanced diet or have a certain medical condition.

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU'RE VITAMIN DEFICIENT? COMMON SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN DEFICIENCY

Oftentimes, we attribute symptoms of vitamin deficiency to the natural aging process. Certain common symptoms, such as fatigue or muscle weakness, can easily be mistaken as a natural part of the aging process when in reality, a nutritional deficiency is the real culprit.

A high-quality multivitamin can be a highly effective way to improve many symptoms, but when in doubt, it's always best to consult with a medical practitioner for professional medical advice depending on your individual health concerns. 

Here are some common signs of vitamin deficiency to look out for...

 

signs of vitamin deficiency

 

HERE ARE SOME SURPRISING SIGNS OF VITAMIN DEFICIENCY

 

1. FATIGUE

Perhaps the most common and easily overlooked symptom of vitamin deficiency is fatigue. In the hustle and bustle of our hectic modern lives, feeling regularly exhausted and tired seems to be a common phenomenon. It's important to note that a general lack of energy or motivation can be caused by a number of factors and various nutritional deficiencies that are best diagnosed by a medical professional.

However, when your body is running low on essential vitamins and minerals, you will likely feel symptoms of fatigue almost immediately. In fact, fatigue is a common symptom of vitamin D deficiency - one of the most common types of vitamin deficiencies in the United States. According to research, an overwhelming 41% of Americans are deficient in this essential vitamin, sometimes known as the "sunshine vitamin." A vitamin D deficiency can cause a huge number of side effects that go beyond simply feeling fatigued. Other symptoms include low mood and brain fog.

If you're feeling tired, down, or foggy all the time, try focusing on getting more natural sources of vitamin D in your diet, such as yogurt, milk, cheese, almond milk, soy milk, sardines, and mushrooms. There's an increased risk of a vitamin D deficiency during the darker months, so be sure to include plenty of these vitamin D-rich foods in your diet then! 

vitamin b deficiency: weak nails


2. BRITTLE, DRY HAIR & WEAK NAILS

A lack of essential B vitamins, especially vitamin B7 (Biotin), can lead to troublesome symptoms over time, such as weak nails, hair loss, a graying part, fingernail ridges, and an overall lack of strength and vibrancy in hair, skin, and nails.

Many other essential vitamins, such as folate (folic acid), also play a major role in the quality of your hair, skin, and nails, and are often the first tell-tale signs of nutritional gaps. If you're experiencing a loss in the quality of your hair, skin, or nails, it may be time to take a closer look at your vitamin B levels.

 

3. EASILY BRUISING ON LEGS

If you can't seem to keep up with the number of little bumps that consistently turn into larger-than-life bruises, it may be a sign that nutritional deficiencies are causing weakened capillaries. Many times, this bruising can be traced back to low levels of iron or vitamin C, and adding more foods like strawberries, broccoli, and citrus fruits can help remedy any nutritional shortcomings.

Be sure to consult with your physician if you are experiencing large bruises very frequently, as this symptom may be serious and point to larger health problems in some cases.

 

4. CRACKS OR SORES IN YOUR MOUTH OR BLEEDING GUMS

If you find yourself frequently getting ulcer-like sores around the sides of your mouth or suffering from bleeding gums, there may be a chance that you are deficient in crucial B vitamins, specifically vitamins B12, B1, B2, and B6.

B vitamins are essential when it comes to helping the body convert food into energy, and without proper levels, you are left unable to fully absorb the vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. Some common sources of B12 generally include poultry, lean red meat, eggs, some fortified plant-based milk. If you follow a plant-based diet, it may be beneficial to include a B12 supplement in your daily routine to make sure you're getting enough vitamin B12.

 

5. POOR NIGHT VISION

Although not as common as many other vitamin deficiencies, a lack of vitamin A can lead to vision issues over time. There are a number of crucial vitamins that are required for good eye health, with vitamin A perhaps being at the top of the list.

This is because vitamin A helps your body produce the pigment known as rhodopsin, which is found in your retinas and aids in night vision. It's important to be properly diagnosed with vitamin A deficiency before considering a supplement, as too much vitamin A can be dangerous. 

person holding leg with severe calf cramps


6. CALF CRAMPS

If you are running low in any of the vitamins and minerals responsible for muscle recovery and contraction, you may experience painful cramps in your calves. This is often caused by a deficiency in key minerals, such as magnesium and calcium.

If you're experiencing painful or severe calf cramps, it may be time to pay your doctor a visit and have your levels of magnesium and calcium checked for any deficiencies. Some excellent sources of magnesium and calcium include bananas, avocados, fortified non-dairy milk (like almond milk), pumpkin seeds, and certain types of dairy.

Having low levels of magnesium has also been associated with some mood disorders such as depression and may also contribute to poor sleep. According to some studies, magnesium supplementation was found to be useful for managing symptoms of depression in certain people.

  

7. RED OR WHITE BUMPS ON SKIN

Experiencing chronic small bumps that look like 'goosebumps,' especially on the backs of your arms, can often be a symptom of zinc, vitamin A, or vitamin C deficiency. These three nutrients are essential for promoting skin healing and without them, this condition (known as Keratosis pilaris) can sometimes occur.

Although this condition is generally not itchy or uncomfortable, it can still help signal that there may be some key nutrients lacking in your diet. To remedy this, try consuming foods high in zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C, such as sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin seeds, some lean meats, dairy, eggs, fish, and dark leafy greens.

 

 

8. CONSTIPATION

Chronic constipation (three or less bowel movements per week) is a condition that has been linked to a number of different causes and can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint. However, if you suffer from constipation, it may be time to have your vitamin, mineral, and nutrient levels checked to ensure that a deficiency isn't adding to the issue.

A diet lacking sufficient amounts of fiber or magnesium (both essential for healthy digestion) may be responsible for the uncomfortable symptoms linked to chronic constipation. Increasing the number of fibrous foods and water in your diet can help remedy this issue in many cases. 

person with dandruff


9. DANDRUFF OR SCALY PATCHES

If you suffer from stubborn dandruff or flaky, itchy skin, there is a chance that you may not be getting enough essential fatty acids in your diet. The healthy fatty acids, often found in food sources such as fish, act as a lubricant and source of natural hydration in the body. Without it, your body will become overly dry, resulting in issues such as chronic dry skin and dandruff.

This common issue can also be caused by a number of other vitamin or nutrient deficiencies, including zinc, riboflavin (B2), B6, and niacin (B3). Seafood, walnuts, flaxseeds, legumes, dairy, nuts, and whole grains are just some dietary choices that can help boost your zinc and fatty acid intake and help your body to better hydrate itself.

 

HAVE YOU TRIED ADDING A MULTIVITAMIN TO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH US ON OUR SOCIAL CHANNELS @PRIMALHARVEST.

 

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Maria Timko
Written by
Maria Timko

Writer, copyeditor, and content crafter
She is currently working on her master’s in English Studies. She has offered her skills as an editorial assistant, freelance journalist, and translator and contributed to both personal and professional projects. When she’s not researching the latest wellness trends, you can find her immersed in a book or chilling on her yoga mat.