Signs You Have a Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is involved in immune function, skin health, vision, reproduction and cellular communication.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

  • Night blindness
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Red or white acne-like bumps (on cheeks, arms, thighs or buttocks)
  • Recurring conjunctivitis
  • Colour-blindness
  • Infected, ulcerated eyes
  • Macular degeneration
  • Acne
  • Ridges on nails

Foods high in vitamin A (beta-carotene):

  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Dark green leafy vegetables — broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale
  • Pumpkin
  • Rockmelon
  • Red, yellow and orange capsicum
  • Dried apricots
  • Peas
  • Broccoli

Vitamin C

“Vitamin C is an antioxidant used to neutralise bad chemicals in the body,” Bruschi said.

Unlike most animals, humans aren’t able to synthesise vitamin C on our own, so it is essential to get it through diet.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

  • Dry skin
  • Coarse or splitting hair
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gingivitis
  • Poor wound healing
  • Poor immunity — recurring colds and flu
  • Tooth loss
  • Anaemia
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bruising
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue

Foods high in vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruit — orange, lemons, limes, grapefruit, etc.
  • Red and yellow capsicum
  • Guava
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Broccoli
  • Dark green leafy vegetables — broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale
  • Berries
  • Tomato
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a role in the immune function and promotes bone growth. According to Bruschi, getting a daily dose of vitamin D is incredibly easy.

“Only about 10 minutes of sun exposure per day is enough to produce your daily vitamin D requirements,” Bruschi said.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

  • Overweight or obese
  • Depression
  • Aching bones
  • Low bone mineral density
  • Osteoporosis — porous and brittle bones
  • Osteomalacia — softening of bone
  • RicketsĀ (a severe bone-deforming disease) — bowing of legs, bending of spine, toneless muscles
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood levels of vitamin D

Foods high in vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish — tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon and trout
  • Liver and other organ meats
  • Eggs (yolk)
  • Mushrooms (which have been exposed to sunlight)
  • Cheese
  • Fortified food products

Vitamin E

“Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the body’s cells from damage, muscle weakness and neurological issues,” Bruschi said.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

  • Eye problems such as retinopathy and cataracts
  • Skin problems such as acne, blisters, scar tissue, stretch marks
  • Mild anaemia
  • Fertility issues
  • Brain function abnormalities

Foods high in vitamin E:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Shellfish
  • Plant-based vegetable oils
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi fruit

Vitamin K

“Vitamin K helps with blood coagulation and prevents clotting issues,” Bruschi said.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

  • Bruise easily
  • Bleed easily
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Osteoporosis
  • Low bone mineral density

Foods high in vitamin K:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Asparagus
  • Dried herbs — basil, thyme, parsely, etc.
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Fennel
  • Leek
  • Olive oil
  • Soy beans
  • Cauliflower

Vitamin B12

This vitamin plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as the formation of red blood cells.

“Deficiencies typically present as anaemia but can also cause spinal cord degeneration and poor brain development,” Bruschi explained.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

  • Numbness and tingling in hands, legs or feet
  • Staggering walk, balance problems
  • Anaemia
  • Swollen or inflamed tongue
  • Jaundice
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
  • Cognitive difficulties or memory loss
  • Loss of vision

Foods high in vitamin B12:

  • Beef
  • Beef liver
  • Lamb
  • Shellfish
  • Poultry
  • Oily fish — mackerel, salmon, tuna
  • Low fat dairy
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fortified soy products — tofu and soy milk

Other B vitamins

Other B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin) and folate.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency:

  • Problems with vision
  • Fatigue
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Oedema (fluid retention)
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Pale skin
  • Dandruff

Foods high in folate:

  • Leafy greens
  • Legumes
  • Whole grainsĀ — oats, brown rice, rye, etc.
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Fortified products such as cereals, fruit juices and most breads