The World Health Organization considers deficiencies of micronutrients a major health problem around the globe.
According to them, there are more than 2 billion people globally that are believed to be deficient in essential minerals and vitamins.
Nutrient deficiencies do not only occur in developing countries. On the contrary, people in industrialized countries can also have nutrient deficiencies usually due to poor diet, medication, or specific diseases.
What are the symptoms of nutrient deficiency? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
What Are Nutritional Deficiencies?
Your body is a complex system that required many different minerals and vitamins to function properly. The vitamins and minerals are absolutely vital for both the development of your body and in preventing diseases. These are often called micronutrients.
Your body does not naturally produce these micronutrients. What this means is that it’s important to get them through your diet.
When a person has a nutritional deficiency, it means that there body either doesn’t get the necessary amount of nutrient from food or their body is unable to absorb nutrients. Being deficient in nutrients can lead to a number of different health conditions and issues. These include but are by no means limited to skin disorders, defective or stunted bone growth, digestive problems, and dementia.
People of different ages need to consume different amounts of each nutrients. Unfortunately, sometimes your body isn’t able to absorb specific nutrients even if you are consuming them.
Let’s take a look at some common nutrient deficiencies that people suffer from.
Vitamin A Deficiency
The strength of your immune system, your eye health, and reproductive health all rely on a group of nutrients known as vitamin A.
One of the leading causes of preventable blindness in children, according to the World Health Organization, is a deficiency in vitamin A. It is also known that pregnant women who do not get enough vitamin A have a higher maternal mortality rate.
Vitamin A can be produced in the body when necessary by converting a nutrient called beta-carotene. This nutrient is an antioxidant. It is found naturally produce that is orange, red, dark green, and yellow.
The best source of vitamin A for newborn babies is breastmilk. For all other people, food such as milk, eggs, spinach, broccoli, kale, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, papaya, tomatoes, peaches, and apricots are good sources of vitamin A.
The most common nutritional deficiency around the world is a deficiency in iron. This can lead to a condition known as anemia. Anemia is a blood disorder that can cause a variety of symptoms including weakness and fatigue.
Iron naturally occurs in foods such as red meat, dark leafy greens, and egg yolks. Iron is absolutely essential in helping your body to produce red blood cells.
If a person is not getting enough iron, then their body is not producing as many red blood cells. Even the red blood cells that their bodies to produce are paler and smaller than their healthy counterparts. These red blood cells are also not nearly as efficient at carrying oxygen to your organs and tissues.
Unfortunately, over 30% of the entire world population is believed to have anemia. This is the only nutrient deficiency that is common in both industrialized and developing nations.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine) Deficiency
Thiamine is a nutrient that helps your metabolism turn carbs into energy. It also is a crucial part of the functioning of your nervous system.
People who don’t get enough thiamine can display symptoms such as confusion, fatigue, weight loss, and short-term memory loss.
A deficiency in this nutrient can also lead to negative impacts on the heart as well as muscle and nerve damage.
The people in the United States who are most commonly deficient in this nutrient are people that have excessive alcohol use issues. This is because alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb, store, and convert this nutrient.
You can find Thiamine naturally occurring in food sources such as nuts, seeds, eggs, pork, wheat germ, and legumes.
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin) Deficiency
Niacin is a mineral that plays an important role in converting the food that you eat into energy. This mineral is found in foods such as peanuts as well as most animal proteins. For this reason, it is rare for people in industrialized nations and communities were meeting a common to have this deficiency.
The term for a person with a severe deficiency in this mineral is known as pellagra. The symptoms of this disease include skin disorders, dementia, and diarrhea.
Vitamin B-9 (Folate) Deficiency
Folate is another essential nutrient that helps the body function properly. It both helps to produce DNA and create red blood cells. It is also important for proper nervous system functioning and brain development.
Folate is normally a recommended supplement for pregnant women as it is essential in fetal development. It is known that this nutrient plays a vital role in forming a child spinal cord and brain. Without enough folate, anemia, growth problems, or birth defects can occur.
Folate can be found naturally occurring in asparagus, citrus fruits, green vegetables, shellfish,, whole-grains, beans and lentils, and shellfish.
Typically, people in the United States managed to get enough of this nutrient in their diet. However, women of childbearing age and pregnant women sometimes are not consuming enough of this nutrient in order to have a healthy pregnancy.
Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin) Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is an important part of helping your body make enough red blood cells. It is common for certain types of people to have this deficiency. They include:
- People who eat a vegan diet
- People who are over 60 years old
- People who have had gastric surgery
- People who have a long history of antacid use
- People who have diabetes and take metformin
Pernicious anemia can result from a deficiency in vitamin B12. This is more common in people who have digestive juices, inflammatory diseases, or autoimmune disorders.
People who are experiencing a vitamin B12 deficiency might experience symptoms such as:
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue and weakness in extremities
- Poor appetite or nausea
- Yellowish or pale skin
- Red, swollen, or sore tongue
If somebody has a vitamin B12 deficiency and it is left untreated for too long of the time, irreversible damage to the nervous system can be caused. The more severe symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty walking
- Memory loss
If you are worried that you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, you can ask your doctor to order blood tests for you. There are a number of ways to treat a B12 deficiency, which include supplements, injections, changes in diet, and blood transitions.
Are you looking for a new supplement brand? If so, check out Dignity Labs.
calcium is a mineral that helps your nerves, heart, and muscles function in the proper way. They also help you to develop strong teeth and bones.
Having deficient in calcium is something that can lead to serious health issues over time but usually doesn’t show short-term symptoms immediately. This is because if you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, your body might use the calcium it finds from your bones instead. What this means is that calcium deficiency might lead to bone loss.
There is a lot of debate about whether or not calcium deficiencies are related to the weakening of bones and bone loss.
It is known that a deficiency in calcium can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and convulsions. This condition can even potentially be life-threatening.
Women who are postmenopausal have a more difficult time absorbing calcium and do tend to experience more bone loss as a result of their changing hormones.
The best places you can find calcium from food sources include small fish with bones, yogurt, milk, cheese, and calcium set tofu. There are also a number of vegetables such as broccoli and kale that have calcium.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is a nutrient that supports a number of different processes in the body. Unfortunately, there are roughly 1 billion people throughout the world who don’t get enough vitamin D. People whose skin is of a darker tone are at a higher risk of not getting as much vitamin D as they need.
Vitamin D helps to maintain the appropriate calcium levels in order to regulate bone and teeth development. It is therefore absolutely essential for healthy bones.
When people do not get enough of this nutrient, it can lead to poor or stunted bone growth.
There are only a few foods in which vitamin D occurs naturally. These include fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, fish liver oils, and liver.
The best source from which a person can get vitamin D is actually the son. Getting between five and 30 minutes of sun midday at least twice a week on arms, face, back, or neck can help people to be getting enough vitamin D.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency?
The signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies will differ depending on which nutrients people are not getting enough of.
That being said, a person might experience general symptoms that point to the fact that they are deficient in certain nutrients. These include:
- Hair loss
- Trouble breathing
- Unusual food cravings
- Pale skin
- Periods of lightheadedness
- Heart palpitations
- Thinking or feeling faint
- Menstrual issues
- Poor concentration
- Numbness or tingling of the joints
A person who is deficient in a nutrient might display one of the symptoms, a few of the symptoms, or all of the symptoms.
Something to keep in mind is that people tend to adopt to the symptoms of nutrient deficiency over time. What this means is that the condition can end up going undiagnosed.
For this reason, it’s important to schedule a checkup with your doctor if you experience an extended period of time where you feel weak, fatigued, or experience poor concentration. It is possible that the symptoms are pointing to the start of a serious nutrient deficiency.
What Causes Nutrient Deficiency?
A poor diet that does not include essential nutrients and a medication or disease that impairs the body’s ability to absorb nutrients are the two main causes of nutrient deficiencies. In some cases, individuals experience both of these causes in tandem.
There are certain nutrients that the body is able to store. What this means is that a deficiency might go unnoticed for a long period of time while the body is calling upon its stores of the nutrient.
There are a number of different conditions and diseases that can specifically lead to an iron deficiency. These include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, colon cancer, and an imbalanced gut flora. Women who are pregnant are also at a higher risk of an iron deficiency because the body is diverging iron to the growing baby rather than the mother’s body.
The Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency: Your Body Sending Out Warning Signals
The identification of nutrient deficiency symptoms can be confusing and complicated. Having one of the symptoms of a nutrient deficiency does not necessarily mean that a nutrient deficiency is the cause. If you find that you have a number of the symptoms on this list, there is generally more cause for concern.
If you are worried that your experiencing a nutrient deficiency, the best thing to do is to consult with the doctor. They have the means to test your levels of various minerals and nutrients to find out whether or not you are actually deficient. After a doctor’s examination, he will prescribe treatment options, like pills, or injections, and in the case of children, prescribe IV HYDRATION with the help of pediatrics catheters.
Did you find this article on the symptoms of nutrient deficiency interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more fascinating and informative content!