4 Vitamins & the Important Signs that You Could Be Deficient

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, U.S. Department of Agriculture

We recently discussed how micronutrients, specifically minerals, play an important role in keeping your body healthy and functioning. You can read that post here.

When it comes to micronutrient deficiency, signs such as fatigue or cramps are often your body’s way of alerting you of potential bigger problems. Next on the micronutrient discussion list? Vitamins.

Why they’re important + signs you could be deficient

1. Vitamin D

  • Why it’s important: Vitamin D controls the expression of over 1,000 genes in the body. This means that vitamin D is controlling over 1,000 different physiological processes. It is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and immune system problems. Did you know that an estimated one billion worldwide are deficient in vitamin D? Unlike most nutritional deficiencies, this is one that is actually more prevalent in the developed world because we aren’t outdoors as much and therefore don’t get as much sun as our ancestors.There are two ways to produce vitamin D: You can create it through exposing unprotected skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of sunlight – 15 minutes a day is adequate – and by eating foods high in vitamin D to absorb them into the intestines. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and is best absorbed when eaten with fat-containing foods.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Vitamin D deficiency has inflammatory effects that can show up in the form of fatigue, muscle weakness, and bone and joint pain. It is also linked to depression, diabetes, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), even psoriasis and asthma.
  • Foods that have it: Eggs. According to the latest USDA nutrition data, eggs now contain 41 IU of vitamin D, which is an increase of 64 percent from 2002. You can also find vitamin D in fatty fish such as sockeye salmon, mackerel, sardines, and grass-fed, fortified dairy, such as milk and yogurt.

Recommended daily allowance: 600 IU daily (age 1- 70)

Be aware that there is such a thing as too much vitamin D, and everyone needs a different amount. A level of above 20 ng/mL to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. Below 30 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.

2. Vitamin C

  • Why it’s important: Vitamin C is needed by the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also appears to improve absorption of iron or iron supplements taken orally. However, when it comes to common colds, stocking up on vitamin C to help you bypass symptoms is a study that has mixed results in human research, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Signs of vitamin deficiency, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, include dry and splitting hair; gingivitis–inflammation of the gums–and bleeding gums; rough, dry, scaly skin; decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising; nosebleeds; and a decreased ability to ward off infection. Scurvy is a severe form of vitamin C deficiency.
  • Foods that have it: Contrary to popular belief, oranges do not have the highest amount of vitamin C – that award goes to bell peppers. Next on the list are guavas, dark and leafy green vegetables, kiwi, broccoli, and strawberries to name a few.

Recommended daily allowance: 90 mg for men 18+ years, 75 mg for women 18 + years (as recommended by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine).

3. Vitamin B12

  • Why it’s important: Vitamin B12 is used to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and carry out other functions. It is frequently used in a vitamin B complex formulation, a supplement that combines with other B vitamins that are also essential for growth, development, and a variety of other bodily functions.
  • Signs you could be deficient: A blood test is needed to confirm deficiency, but symptoms may include: Anemia, numbness/weakness, and fatigue.To further connect the dots: A complete blood count (CBC) is often performed in people with fatigue/poor exercise tolerance that then identifies anemia. In blood work done for anemia, both B12 and Folate are often tested.FYI people who have undergone bariatric (i.e. weight loss) surgery are more likely to be low in vitamin B12 because the operation interferes with the body’s ability to extract vitamin B12 from food. WellnessFX has a package specifically for bariatric patients.
  • Foods that have it: Plants don’t make vitamin B12, so vegans/vegetarians, take note and consider supplements or fortified foods.Foods that do deliver it are meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, and other foods from animals. Like most vitamins, B12 can’t be made by the body. Instead, it must be sourced from food or supplements.

Recommended daily allowance:  2.4 micrograms (mcg) a day for the average adult.

4. Vitamin B9 (folate/folic acid)

  • Why it’s important: B9 is an essential vitamin in the production of many cells, including red and white blood cells. Healthy folate levels support nerve function, bone and brain health, and help prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Folate deficiency is most commonly linked to anemia, and those signs are weakness and fatigue. According to the UMMC, other possible symptoms of deficiency include poor growth, tongue inflammation, gingivitis, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness, mental sluggishness, and forgetfulness. Related post: “What Women Really Want
  • Foods that have it: Beans, lentils, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, and avocado are the top players with the highest amount of folate. You can also look to broccoli, tropical fruits, and oranges to eat your folate.

Recommended daily allowance: 400 mcg for males 18 + years, 400-600 mcg for females 18 +, according to the Mayo Clinic.

What’s the best way to get my micronutrients?

It’s highly recommended to get your vitamins from eating whole, fresh foods because of the greater nutritional value, fiber, and phytochemicals, according to the Mayo Clinic. So be wary of processed, fortified foods as well as the the dangers of over consumption of certain micronutrients and the possible harmful effects.

Want to test your vitamin D, B9, and B12 levels? WellnessFX currently offers this testing.

Check with your doctor or a WellnessFX practitioner if you’re considering  multivitamins and supplements, to help you find the right balance that is optimal for your own biochemistry.

Don’t forget that if you’re a WellnessFX member, we now offer direct access to ThorneFX supplements.

Test My Vitamins

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.