How Vitamins And Minerals Work
Dr. Lynn Anderson a naturopathic doctor, author and yoga instructor explains how vitamins and minerals actually work: We need enzymes to be activated so that we can do all of our bodily functions. Enzymes are activated by vitamins and minerals.
She explains that certain enzymes need certain vitamins for activation. For example, A particular enzyme needs vitamin B6 to activate it. We need this enzyme activated so that it can send nerve impulses to our fingertips. If there is a deficiency in vitamin B6, you might feel tingling in your fingertips.
What Causes A Vitamin D Deficiency
Limited exposure to the sun
You may look out your window and see the sun shining and think that you are safe from this deficiency, but that is not always the case. Even in sunny climates, there is an increased prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. We have all heard about the dangers of skin cancer and the need for sunscreen to protect us from this disease. This knowledge and the preventive actions we take have significantly decreased our vitamin D levels. Sunscreen protects so well against UV-B rays that an SPF of 30 decreases vitamin D synthesis in the skin by more than 95%. On top of this, we tend to spend more time indoors. One study found that it took Caucasians exposure of more than 30% of their body every day in the summer to make the optimal amounts of vitamin D. Most adults work indoors and wear more clothing during the workweek, which leaves only about 10%-15% of their body exposed to UV for short periods, so they cannot meet their vitamin D needs through the sun alone. Even if you do have some exposure to the sun, the total amount of vitamin D you can produce is affected by the season, time of day, ozone amount, latitude, and the number of clouds in the sky.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms To Look Out For
If youre concerned that you may have low levels of vitamin D, you can keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
1. Feeling Tired or Sleepy
If you find yourself yawning throughout the day, you may want to get your vitamin D levels tested. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with daytime sleepiness, and studies have shown that a vitamin D supplement may help boost energy.13
2. Getting Sick Often
Vitamin D plays a huge role in the bodys immune system, boosting the health of the skin, the eyes, the urinary tract, the respiratory system, and the intestine.14
So, if you struggle with frequent respiratory infections or other bugs, you may want to increase your intake of vitamin D to help support your immune system.15,16
3. Intestinal Issues
Recurring gastrointestinal issues are strongly associated with insufficient vitamin D.
4. Back Pain
Back pain has many causes it can be brought on by heavy lifting, or even from a bad nights sleep. But sometimes, back pain is evidence of something more a vitamin D deficiency.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that inadequate vitamin D levels are linked with back pain, especially in older populations, and in those with lower than average bone density.18
5. Tooth Decay
6. Hair Loss
1. Female pattern hair loss, which is an overall thinning of hair on the scalp20
7. Chronic Muscle Pain
8. Low Mood
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The Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D has many roles in the body. It helps maintain a healthy immune system, promotes healthy and strong bones, and contributes to general health and wellbeing. Some of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency are the inverse of these desirable traits. This include:
- Frequent illness.
- A feeling of never being well-rested.
- Pain in your back or bones.
- Wounds that wont heal.
- Hair loss .
Of course, many of these disorders can be associated with other issues, so you should consult with your primary care physician.
Fortunately, its relatively easy to figure out if you are vitamin D deficient with a blood test. Its sometimes recommended to check more than once, as vitamin D levels in the blood will be different at different times of day, depending on your recent dietary intake. A couple of samples should quickly reveal your vitamin D situation.
Its a good thing that testing for vitamin D deficiency is easy, because 42% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D! Therefore, if you have any of the symptoms weve listed above, or if you have others that seem related to the bodily processes described, definitely consider talking with your doctor. Thankfully, vitamin D deficiency is just as easy to treat as it is to diagnose, and you can get the help you need in products available over the counter or online.
About Angela Halderson, RD
Signs Youre Experiencing Deficiency In Vitamin B12
- Signs Youâre Experiencing Deficiencyâ¦
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in animal foods like fish, poultry, meat and eggs.
It is one of the most important vitamins you need since it plays a critical role in the production of your red blood cells, DNA and the functioning of your nervous system.
A deficiency in B12 is common, specifically in those who are older and those who dont eat the foods rich with the vitamin.
Fortunately, many foods, such as certain bread and plant-based milk, will be fortified with B12, making it easier for those who dont consume animal products to stay healthy. A supplement may also be taken if youve been diagnosed with a B12 deficiency.
Knowing what a vitamin deficiency looks like is step one in getting your levels back to normal. Heres everything you need to know about a vitamin B12 deficiency.
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Changes In Hair Quality Or Texture
Have you noticed your hair isnt exactly the same as its always been? Maybe youre seeing more breakage than usual or increased thinning. Or perhaps your always-straight hair is now turning wavy or curly or vice versa.
If your hair is changing, there could be a few nutrients youre missing. Often, hair changes mean you need to increase your folic acid , get more vitamins B12 or B6, or up your iron intake. All of these nutrients play a role in your bloody supply, helping your body deliver oxygen via red blood cells to your scalp. If your scalp isnt getting enough oxygen, your hair can actually start to suffocate.
Additionally, if your hair is suddenly thinning, you might want to check your vitamin D and iron intake. A lack of these two nutrients can slow your hair growth down, which can result in an overall thinner head of hair.
Give your diet a boost of folate by incorporating radishes, a root veggie thats rich in this particular B vitamin our Roasted Radishes & Greens with Tahini Sauce is a great radish-centric choice. Collards are another great food that feature plenty of folate, and you can put our Collards with Turkey Sausage and Shrimp on your dinner menu.
Signs You Might Have A Vitamin D Deficiency
During cold and flu season, and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D to help reduce your risk of viral and bacterial illness.5,6 A blood test is the best way to determine your vitamin D levels, but here are some symptoms that may indicate your levels are low.
1.Aching muscles Nearly half of all adults are affected by muscle pain.7 Researchers believe most of those are deficient in vitamin D. Some studies have suggested that nerves have vitamin D receptors that affect the perception of pain. In one animal model, research demonstrated a vitamin D-deficient diet can induce deep muscle hypersensitivity that was not connected to low levels of calcium.8
2.Painful bones Vitamin D regulates the level of calcium in your body, necessary to protect bone health.9 Vitamin D deficiency can cause your bones to soften, called osteomalacia. This may be a precursor to osteoporosis.
3.Fatigue This is a common symptom of a variety of different health conditions, including sleep deprivation. Researchers have found that supplementing cancer patients suffering from fatigue can improve their symptoms.10
In one study11 using 174 adults with fatigue and stable medical conditions, the researchers found 77.2% were deficient in vitamin D. After normalizing their level, the fatigue symptoms improved significantly.
7.Sweaty head Excessive sweating, especially on your head, or a change in your pattern of sweating, can indicate a vitamin D deficiency.21
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% Of People With Covid
Vitamin D plays an important role in the development and severity of many diseases. This is why, from the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I suspected that optimizing vitamin D levels would significantly lower the incidence of infection and death in the general population.
Since then, mounting evidence has revealed this is indeed the case as researchers have repeatedly found that higher levels of vitamin D reduce the rate of positive tests, hospitalizations and mortality related to this infection.
One study,34 released in late 2020, assessed the serum 25OHD levels of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 to evaluate the influence it might have on the severity of the disease. The researchers found 82.2% of those with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient .
Interestingly, they also found those who were deficient had a greater prevalence of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high iron levels and longer hospital stays. A second study35 found similar results for people who only tested positive for COVID-19.
In other words, these patients were tested for the illness using the PCR test, which gives notoriously high false-positive results, and did not necessarily have symptoms of the illness. Yet, those who were likely deficient in vitamin D also had an increased risk of testing positive.
You can read more about the study, from information published before being pulled, at Vitamin D Supplementation Reduces COVID-19 Deaths by 64%.
How Do You Know If You Are Vitamin D Deficient
Without a blood test , it can be hard to tell. Early signs of vitamin D deficiency are subtle if they even exist. You may not show any symptoms at all, according to experts.
But vitamin D deficiency can cause accelerated skin aging and dry skin, according to Dr. Raman Madan, a dermatologist at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital. And over time, severe deficiency can result in muscle weakness and bone fractures, says Paul Thomas, a registered dietitian nutritionist and scientific consultant at the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.
Studies have also found that prolonged vitamin D deficiency can cause bone-related diseases in adults and children.
All that said, the only way to truly know if you are vitamin D deficient is to get a blood test through your doctor, says Thomas.
Not all medical professionals, however, think routine testing for vitamin D is a good idea.
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How To Get More Calcium
Adults should receive 1,000 mg of calcium each day from food sources and supplements.
Calcium-rich foods include as salmon and sardines , broccoli and bok choi.
And, of course, dairy products including skim milk, and nonfat or lowfat yogurt. Try swapping one daily sugary beverage for an 8 oz. glass of milk. And keep a few yogurts in the fridge at home or work for midday snacks. You can also use the milk and yogurt to make homemade smoothies, with fresh or frozen berries.
Muscle Cramps Or Twitches
We all know calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth, but did you know this mineral also plays a big part in normal nerve and muscle functions? Low levels of calcium can cause muscle weakness, involuntary twitching , and even heart palpitations or abnormal heart rhythms. And of course, low levels of calcium can also increase your risk for fractures.
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The Bottom Line On Vitamin D Deficiency
Many of us dont get enough vitamin D from our diet or the sun, making deficiency common. Symptoms like brain fog, low mood, and suboptimal bone density can tip you off to low vitamin D levelsand supplements are often necessary if you want to get your levels up to a truly optimal place of 50 ng/ml or higher.*
Problems Focusing Or Thinking Clearly
Like fatigue, brain fog is another relatively common symptom of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The most common culprit in focusing and cognitive problems is vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 helps your body produce chemicals called neurotransmitters that serve as messengers between your nerves. When your levels of B12 are low, your levels of these chemicals can also decline, and that means cognitive functions can be impaired. In addition to these symptoms, a vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause problems like fatigue, difficulty coordinating walking and other movements, mood changes and paranoia, and even hallucinations if levels are very low. Vitamin B12 is not found in plant food sources, so vegans tend to be at a significantly increased risk for this deficiency.
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Iron: Fatigue Shortness Of Breath Cold Hands And Feet Brittle Nails And More
Iron is necessary to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, according to the University of California in San Francisco. When iron levels get too low, there may be a deficiency in red blood cells, resulting in a condition called anemia. Some groups at increased risk of iron deficiency include menstruating women, growing individuals , and those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, Zive says.
Anemia can leave you with symptoms including weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, a fast heartbeat, pale skin, headache, cold hands and feet, a sore or swollen tongue, brittle nails, and cravings for strange things like dirt, according to the Mayo Clinic. The symptoms may be so mild at first that you dont notice somethings wrong, but as iron stores become more depleted, they will become more intense.
To boost iron levels, Patton recommends eating iron-fortified cereal, beef, oysters, beans , lentils, and spinach. Adult men and women over 50 need 8 mg per day, and adult women younger than 50 need 18 mg each day, according to the NIH.
General Aches And Pains
Muscle pain, which is often mistaken for a natural aging or even exercise-related symptom, is a sign of vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies. Muscle stiffness, tightness, and cramping is often associated with low magnesium, while muscle weakness, muscle pain, and bone pain are associated with low levels of Vitamin D, says Dr. Mitmesser. Both vitamin D and the mineral magnesium come in supplemental form by way of vitamins and tinctures.
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How To Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies
The simplest way to prevent nutrient deficiencies is to eat a wholesome, nutrient-dense diet based on an abundance of produce and ample protein, plus supplementing your diet every day with a high quality multivitamin, vitamin D, and omega-3 fish oil, says Kriegler. If youre concerned about a nutrient deficiency, there are a few steps you can take:
How To Increase Vitamin B12 Levels
Food: When possible, it is always best to get your nutrients through food. Foods highest in B12 include beef liver, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, lamb, salmon, eggs, and milk products.
Supplementation: The route of delivery and type of supplement you use depends on a few different factors. If you are significantly deficient and symptomatic, you will benefit most from intramuscular injections of B12 initially.
In our practice, we prefer using sublingual B12 versus oral B12 because some patients have difficulty absorbing oral B12 as a result of low stomach acid, impaired intrinsic factor, or intestinal inflammation. When using sublingual B12, we prefer methylcobalamin versus cyanocobalamin because methylcobalamin is the active form used in the body, whereas cyanocobalamin must be converted prior to use in the body.
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When To Take A Supplement
Most people can get the nutrients they need from diet alone. So if you dont have a nutrient deficiency, you shouldnt take a supplement just for the sake of it. Synthetic nutrients dont always match up to those found naturally in foods.
A good approach is to monitor your vitamin and mineral levels with a blood test. If youre low in a certain nutrient, you can up your intake of foods rich in these nutrients. However, supplements are definitely necessary in some cases.
Vitamin D supplements During autumn and winter, Public Health England advises that everyone should consider taking a 10 mcg daily vitamin D supplement from October to March. And if youre more at-risk, they recommend taking them year-round.
If youre someone who doesnt get much sunlight during the summer months, wear sunscreen top to toe, or have darker skin, then its recommended that you take a supplement all year.
Vitamin B12 supplements If youre a vegan or vegetarian then youre more at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. If a blood test shows that youre deficient or if you follow a strict vegan diet then its recommended that you take a supplement.
A cyanocobalamin supplement is a good choice as its a form that your body can easily use. Its also possible to get a vitamin B12 injection this is especially useful if your deficiency is caused by absorption issues in your stomach. The form of hydroxocobalamin can be given every three months.