A diet low in essential vitamins can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
These symptoms are how your body communicates possible nutrient deficiencies, and recognizing them can help you adjust your diet accordingly.
9 Signs that the body lacks essential vitamins
Symptoms are usually the first indication of a deficiency of one or more important vitamins or minerals. Here are some ways to recognize the most common nutrient deficiencies.
Brittle hair and nails
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, helps the body convert food into energy. Biotin deficiency is very rare, but when it does occur, symptoms include thinning or separation of hair and nails, chronic fatigue, muscle aches, cramps and tingling in the hands and feet.
Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores, are often the result of iron or B vitamin deficiencies. People suffering from mouth ulcers or cracks at the corners of the mouth may want to try to eat more foods rich in thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine and iron to alleviate symptoms. These may include whole grains, animal products, legumes, green vegetables, starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Bleeding gums or even tooth loss can be the cause of a diet low in vitamin C. This nutrient plays an important role in wound healing, immunity and prevention of cell damage.
The human body does not make vitamin C on its own, which means that the only way to get it is through food, especially fruits and vegetables.
Other serious consequences of severe vitamin C deficiency are scurvy, easy bruising, slow wound healing, dry skin and frequent nosebleeds.
Low vitamin A intake can lead to poor night vision or growths on the white part of the eyes.
However, note that unless a deficiency is diagnosed, most people should avoid taking vitamin A supplements because it can be toxic in excess.
Scaly patches and dandruff
Dandruff and scaly patches on the scalp, eyebrows, ears, eyelids and chest can be caused by low intakes of zinc, niacin, riboflavin and pyridoxine.
Foods rich in these nutrients include whole grains, animal products, green vegetables, starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
When added to your diet, these nutrients can help reduce symptoms.
Hair loss is very common, with up to 50% of the population reporting hair loss before the age of 50.
A diet rich in nutrients such as iron, zinc, essential fatty acids and various forms of vitamin B can help prevent or slow down hair loss.
As with vitamin A, avoid supplements and choose healthier diets.
Red or white bumps on the skin
Vitamin A and C deficiencies can be linked to keratosis pilaris, a condition that causes red or white bumps on the skin. In addition to treatment with medicated creams, people with the condition may consider adding foods rich in these vitamins to their diet.
These include offal, dairy products, eggs, fish, dark green leafy vegetables, yellow-orange vegetables and fruit.
High or low blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. On the other hand, low blood pressure is one of the many symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include unsteady gait, muscle weakness, and lack of bladder control.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is often linked to low iron levels.
RLS is a nervous disorder that causes feelings in the legs and a constant urge to move them.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, RLS affects about 10 percent of Americans, with women twice as likely as men to suffer from this disease.
People with RLS can increase their intake of iron-rich foods to help alleviate symptoms.
The best way to avoid or correct vitamin deficiencies is to make sure you maintain a nutritious diet. Consult your doctor if you have any questions.