Vitamin Deficiency is an age-old problem. Modernization and advancements in lifestyle have only added to the problem. You’d probably wonder why is it so, as advancements are supposed to IMPROVE our lifestyle and health, but that may not always be the case. The rapid rise of junk food and processed edibles that have a massive appeal to the taste buds have been detrimental to our body’s needs, almost always ignoring it’s requirements for necessary vitamins and minerals.
Not having enough vitamins in your daily diet can have a multitude of ill effects on your body. This includes vitamin deficiency anaemia, a condition that occurs when your body doesn’t have enough vitamins necessary to produce sufficient amounts of RBCs (Red Blood Cells) in the human body, which are essential for carrying oxygen from the lungs to all over your body. This condition, known as Vitamin deficiency anaemia, and can be caused by eating food lacking in vitamins or if your body is not able to properly absorb nutrients from the food that you eat.
Common symptoms –
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Irregular heartbeats
Besides these, it can also cause intense weight loss, numbness in hands and feet, muscle weakness, personality changes, unsteady movements and mental confusion or forgetfulness.
That sounds scary, doesn’t it? Well this is just one example of how bad vitamin deficiency could get.
Let’s start off with listing down the 3 most common Vitamins that are found to be missing in a lot of our diets, resulting in deficiencies. These are –
- Folate (Vitamin B9) –
Did you even know that B9 was known as Folate? No, right! Well it is, and it’s a rarity in most of our diets. Also known as vitamin B9, Folate is a nutrient found largely in fruits and leafy green vegetables such as Spinach, Kale etc. One of the main reasons that it may not be absorbed is because of diseases in the small intestine, such as coeliac disease, or if it has been surgically removed altogether.
Additionally alcohol and anti-seizure medications can also mean you don’t get as much as you need.
- Vitamin B12 – This vitamin is found mostly in meat, eggs and milk, which means that if you’re a hardcore vegan you’re going to have problems absorbing this. It can also happen because of issues with the small intestine – like we mentioned earlier – or if you suffer from Crohn’s disease or have abnormal bacterial growth. A deficiency could also be caused by consuming tapeworm from contaminated fish so be careful where you buy your seafood from!
The most common cause, however, is a lack of intrinsic factor – a protein meant to escort B12 through the small intestine for absorption – which means it leaves the body as waste.
- Vitamin C – We’ve all heard the common lingo – “Hey you need Vitamin C, it’s so easily found in citrus fruits like lemon and orange” but even then, a lot of us are deficient in this essential Vitamin. To top that up, activities like smoking reduce the body’s ability to absorb this nutrient and further worsen the condition. Deficiency of Vitamin C can cause Scurvy, and lead to bleeding gums and slow recovery of cuts and bruises. Turns out an orange a day can keep the doctor away too!
Now that you know the main essential vitamins that are most commonly deficient, let’s move on and dig a little deeper to uncover the causes of Vitamin deficiencies. Now of course you can’t help it if your body naturally has a problem absorbing certain vitamins and minerals, but what if the reasons aren’t all natural? Here’s a list of certain activities and causes that hamper the body’s ability to absorb vitamins. –
- A Diet low in fat content reduces the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin E. To tackle this, include healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, dry fruits, nut butters etc.
- Alcohol consumption has an impact on folic acid levels. Alcohol consumption is bad for health anyway, but it also restricts the body’s folic acid levels and may result in the need for external supplementation.
- Certain Medications can also cause vitamin deficiencies, but this is very case specific and cannot be prepared for or predicted without knowing the patient’s case history.
- Certain antibiotics such as isoniazid can cause B6 deficiency.
Now that you know the gist of the problem, you have a basic idea of what the situation is and how to tackle it. What we mean is that you don’t need to wait for your gums to start bleeding or body’s absorption levels falling to take the necessary action. The best way to ensure that you’re healthy is by following a balanced diet that has enough amounts of Vitamins and Minerals and isn’t lacking in any of the above mentioned elements.
In case of exceptions or people whose diet has restrictions such as vegans or vegetarians, it is necessary to supplement your diet with external supplements and multivitamins (especially for athletes and people participating in performance sports) so that your body is adequately fuelled to grow and repair in a healthy manner.
Stay healthy, stay happy guys. Vitamin Deficiency may sound like a very small issue but the magnitude can vary from case to case and it’s best to be prepared. After all, a stitch in time saves nine! Now you can get quality vitamin tests done at the comfort of your home.