Your body requires a consistent supply of essential vitamins and minerals for optimal function and overall wellbeing. Although you’re sure to find numerous sources suggesting you’ll get all the nutrients necessary for physical, mental, and emotional health by sticking with a nutritious, well-balanced diet, current investigations suggest an alarming number of women have statistically significant vitamin deficiencies despite eating a seemingly adequate diet.
Although even moderate vitamin deficiencies are linked to numerous potential health complications, the blood tests commonly used to identify medically relevant deficits aren’t typically ordered during routine wellness visits unless the symptoms are obvious. That’s unfortunate. Many signs of nutritional deficiencies are easily overlooked.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of a vitamin or mineral deficiency, consider scheduling a consultation with your healthcare provider. Until then, you may find it helpful to know which deficiencies are most common, their possible symptoms, and some of the many potential benefits of personalized supplements.
What Causes Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies?
Your body needs every one of the 13 vitamins and 16 essential minerals found in a healthy, balanced diet. Yet even consistent eating habits focused on lean protein, heart-healthy fat, whole grains, and a variety of leafy greens and colorful vegetables provide little guarantee you’re adequately nourished, especially if you have dietary restrictions, a medical condition, or take medication. Although the following list does not cover every possible scenario, you may find it helpful to consider the following factors that could increase your risk of the most common nutritional deficiencies:
- A vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free lifestyle
- Too little sunlight exposure
- The physical demands of pregnancy
- Overconsumption of processed foods
- Alcoholic liver disease, liver failure, and kidney disease
- Gastric bypass surgery and malabsorption syndrome
- Chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease
- Proton pump inhibitors and histamine blockers
- Broad-spectrum antibiotics, antacids, and blood thinners
- Some high blood pressure medications (including hydralazine)
Which Vitamin Deficiencies Are Most Common? What Are Their Symptoms?
Some of the most common symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies mimic the signs of several other potentially serious health concerns, conditions that often require prompt medical attention. Other symptoms are so strongly linked to specific vitamin deficiencies your health care provider may want to run more tests just to confirm their suspicions. Although it’s possible to be deficient in nearly any vitamin or mineral your body requires, the following nutritional deficiencies are considered the most common.
Vitamin D is just as essential for bone health as calcium, yet current research suggests nearly 35% of our adult population is vitamin D deficient. When you have too little vitamin D in your system, the decline in intestinal calcium and phosphorous can lead to accelerated bone loss and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Researchers estimate that most people get 50-90% of their vitamin D from the conversion of sunlight, with the remaining 10-50% from dietary sources. Although most people deficient in vitamin D have no noticeable symptoms, fatigue, muscle twitching, and weakness are possible.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 helps your body metabolize the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet. Most recently, researchers discovered that this essential B vitamin also has considerable anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant properties, and helps your skin produce collagen. The outward signs and symptoms of a vitamin B6 deficiency can include red, itchy, rash-prone skin (seborrheic dermatitis), cracked lips, or a painful, glossy tongue. You might also notice irritability, anxiety symptoms, depression, or increased susceptibility to infection as your low B6 levels compromise immune system function.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Your body needs vitamin B12 for the formation of red blood cells and nerve cell function. The most abundant dietary sources include meat, dairy products, eggs, and fortified grains. Although some people develop vitamin B12 deficiencies when they don’t get enough of this essential nutrient from their diet, others lack enough of a specific protein produced in the stomach (intrinsic factor) that allows proper absorption. Your symptoms could include numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, decreased appetite or weight loss, vision problems, yellowish skin, neurological difficulties, and more.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that also functions as an electrolyte. Even if you’re eating magnesium-rich foods, pregnancy and lactation, type II diabetes, thyroid disorders, advancing age, and certain types of medications can increase your risk of developing a magnesium deficiency. Your symptoms could include numbing or tingling in your hands or feet, muscle spasms, abnormal heart rhythms, weakness, or fatigue. The long-term effects of a magnesium deficiency can compromise brain function, inhibit nerve and muscle function, and cause uncomfortable digestive disturbances.
Without enough iron in your system, there won’t be enough of a protein called hemoglobin in your red blood cells to carry oxygen through your bloodstream. Although the signs and symptoms of an iron deficiency (and iron deficiency anemia) tend to vary with severity, you’ll likely experience fatigue and a pale complexion. You could also have ongoing problems with heart palpitations, chest pain, frequent headaches, dry skin, or brittle nails. While a lack of dietary iron can contribute to a deficiency, the condition can also be triggered by heavy menstruation or blood loss due to injury or infection.
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Folate is a B vitamin essential for the formation of DNA and red blood cells. The nutrient is so essential that dietary folate and the use of oral folate supplements (folic acid) during pregnancy (and before) can help prevent congenital disorders impacting the brain and spine. When combined with B12 and B6, folate also appears to help minimize the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by assisting with the regulation of the homocysteine levels in your blood. Some of the possible signs of a folate deficiency can include fatigue, mouth sores, anemia, a swollen tongue, and shortness of breath.
Iodine is found naturally in eggs, dairy products, fish, and grains. The trace mineral is also commonly added to table salt to reduce the risk of developing an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), or pregnancy-related complications. Although the average person in our country usually gets plenty of salt in their diet, the salt in processed foods is rarely iodine-fortified. That likely explains why the American Thyroid Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other respected organizations recommend iodine-fortified supplements for anyone who is pregnant, planning a future pregnancy, or breastfeeding.
Can Dietary Supplements Help Reduce the Risk of Common Deficiencies?
Many people take a daily multi-vitamin to help ensure they’re not missing out on essential nutrients. While the evidence supporting the use of dietary supplements is sound, it’s important to realize that not all vitamin and mineral supplements are the same. If you’ve been browsing the isles of your favorite department store, pharmacy, or specialty shop, you’ve likely realized that many companies use a lot of fillers, preservatives, and other questionable chemicals in their products, ingredients you may not want in your supplements.
Instead, consider investing in on-demand personalized supplements with BINTO™, products specifically formulated for overall wellness, digestive support, and reproductive health. At BINTO™, we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness. That’s why we curate daily supplement packs that provide the nutrients you need based on your life stage and daily symptoms.
If you could benefit from a personalized supplement routine, visit BINTO™. While you’re there, consider browsing our selection of products, taking our quiz, or booking a consult. BINTO™ supplements are doctor and nurse formulated, gluten-free, HSA approved, and manufactured in a GMP certified facility.