7 Signs You May be Vitamin or Mineral Deficient

Wednesday Jul 9 | BY |
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Vitamin Deficiencies

If you get frequent muscle cramps, you may be low on certain minerals.

Here at Renegade Health, we advocate getting your blood tested regularly to determine which nutrients you may be short on. A legitimate blood test is the only foolproof way to figure out how you’re doing with your daily diet.

There are some outward signs, however, that may indicate a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Here are seven of them. If you notice that you have any of these, be sure to double-check with a blood test before investing in supplements.

1. You’ve got the blues.

Vitamin D helps maintain healthy levels of serotonin—the “feel good” neurotransmitter—in your brain. If you’re not getting enough, you may feel blue more often than usual. Other potential signs of a vitamin D deficiency include aching bones and muscles, and daytime sleepiness. Get out in the sun, and eat more fish, cod liver oil, oysters, mushrooms, and eggs.

2. You suffer frequent muscle cramps.

Muscle cramps in the calves, toes, and feet can happen for a number of reasons, but they may be a sign that you’re low in magnesium, calcium, and potassium. In fact, a 1996 study actually found that magnesium deficiency is more common than previously believed, and is associated with persistent or severe muscle pain. Other signs may include fatigue, general weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and even restless leg syndrome. Eat more dark, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, and avocadoes.

3. You’re fingers and toes feel funny, either numb or tingling.

This is often related to the nerves, and may be a sign of vitamin B deficiency. A shortage of vitamin B12, in particular, is linked with a “pins and needles” sensation in the hands and feet, as well as with joint pain. Other signs include loss of reflexes, and an unsteady feeling, like you’re having trouble keeping your balance. Eat more shellfish, beef liver, mackerel, crab, and red meat, or consider supplements.

4. You’re losing more hair than usual, or you’ve got a rash on your face.

Both of these may signal a deficiency in biotin (vitamin B6), sometimes called the “hair vitamin” because it’s so crucial to hair growth. Also called “pyridoxine,” biotin is needed for normal brain function and hormone production. It’s water-soluble, though, so the body doesn’t store it, meaning we need to get it regularly from our diets. Other signs of deficiency may include depression, lethargy, and numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers (as noted above). Eat more sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, fish, turkey, chicken, lean pork, and dried prunes.

5. Cracks in the skin around the corners of your mouth.

This may be associated with dry skin, but it can also signal a deficiency in iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Sometimes it’s caused by “angular cheilitis,” which is an inflammation at the corners of the mouth that may be caused by an infection. Studies have linked these infections with deficiencies in vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. For more iron, eat more clams, mussels, oysters, beef liver, squash and pumpkin seeds, nuts, beans, and lamb.

6. You hate the acne-like bumps on your cheeks, arms, thighs, and posterior.

These may simply be related to oily skin, but they can also potentially signal a deficiency in essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are good for your skin as they help tame inflammation and reduce acne. Studies have actually found that people can improve symptoms of acne, dermatitis and psoriasis when supplementing with omega-3s in fish oil. Eat more salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, navy beans, kidney beans, winter squash, and olive oil.

7. You get frequent nosebleeds.

This could be a sign of a vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K is critical for blood clotting, so if you’re not getting enough, you may be more prone to bleeding. Other signs include easy bruising, gum bleeding, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Those with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or who take drugs that interfere with the absorption of vitamin K (like antibiotics, warfarin, and anticonvulsants) are more at risk, as are those who drink alcohol heavily. Eat more herbs like dried basil, sage, and thyme, along with more dark, leafy greens, scallions, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and cabbage.

Do you have any of these signs of vitamin/mineral deficiencies? Please share your story.

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D. L. Bilbey, et al., “Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports,” Can Fam Physician, July 1996;42:1348-1351, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2146789/.

Mark G. Rubin, et al., “Acne vulgaris, metnal health and omega-3 fatty acids: a report of cases,” Lipids Health Dis. 2008; 7:36, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2577647/.

Jae Yoon Jung, et al., “Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acid and gamma-linolenic Acid on Acne Vulgaris: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial,” 2014 Feb 18: doi: 10.2340/00015555-1802.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com


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  1. Deane Alban says:

    The man picture of the man holding his calf – I relate! I get leg cramps after I exercise, especially at night. I found taking magnesium and using a foam roller helps tremendously. I never had this problem before so I was surprised when it suddenly started shortly after moving to a warm climate. I drink a LOT of water, perhaps the heat is messing with my mineral balance?

  2. Mary Rose says:

    A couple years ago i began to suffer from anxiety attacks. As some may know, anxiety attacks may act like heart attacks, but mine were more in the form of just feeling a lot of anxiety and not being able to breathe along with the shakes.

    I went to my Primary Care Physician who referred me to both a psychiatrist and a neurologist. The psychiatrist interviewed me prior to the return from the results of the blood tests taken by the neurologist. After interviewing me for a few minutes and having me fill out a form, the psychiatrist told me he wanted me to schedule another appointment in a couple days at which time he would have me fill out another form which would determine whether he would put me on Zoloft or Prozac. Well, since i sit here and monitor the drug industry for lawsuits, I hit the ceiling and said in no uncertain terms that it would be a cold day in hell before anyone put me on one of these drugs. I found out later that my primary care physician no longer referred patients to this psychiatrist, thank goodness.

    When when the results of the blood tests came back from the neurologist, they showed that i was low in vitamin D3 and B1. As soon as i got on a liquid multivitamin recommended by my acupuncturist, both the anxiety and the numbness i had been feeling in my feet and legs went away.

    I now will go to an alternative health care professional anytime over that of a conventional physician.

  3. Kim Ward says:

    Good article. I think most people are mineral deficient due to eating too many processed foods and because our foods are usually grown in soil depleted of minerals.

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