Vitamin deficiencies can lead to a wide range of problems. Deficiencies are highly individual and able to change at different stages of life. They may vary according to gender and ethnicity. This is why it’s important to share information with your doctor that might reveal a vitamin you’re lacking, and to get tests if they’re warranted. Simply taking generic multivitamins has been found, in some studies, to be useless or even harmful. It’s a better strategy to learn exactly what your body needs and then take proper supplements accordingly.
Even though results vary widely from person to person, there are specific vitamin deficiencies to watch out for. Over the years of practicing integrative medicine, I have found the vast majority of patients initially test deficient in one or more of the following vitamins and minerals : vitamin D3, B6, B12, magnesium, folate, and iron.
When and How to Get Tested
You can look at a few clues for yourself, in order to detect vitamin deficiencies. For example, dry hair, skin, and nails may mean your body is missing key nutrients. Canker sores can signal vitamin B6 deficiency. Other clues include weakness, shallow breathing, mood swings, hair loss, pale fingernails and constant discoloration and/or bags under your eyes — all potential signs of various deficiencies.
Any of the above symptoms could mean a number of things, however. A better choice is to have a professional test. When you visit your doctor, request testing of specific areas that concern you. For example, a routine “Complete Blood Count”, “Comprehensive Chemistry Profile”, or “Complete Metabolic Profile” does not include vitamins and minerals. These levels are considered to be add-on tests.
In my clinical practice, I use Spectracell’s Micronutrient Profile for evaluation of 35 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids at the cellular (white blood cell) level. More information about this very helpful test may be found at www.Spectracell.com.
Vitamins You May Lack
According to the Mayo Clinic, Vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with bone loss, kidney disease, lung disorders, thyroid conditions, psoriasis, diabetes, stomach and intestine problems, and heart disease. Vitamin D3 supplementation has been found to help prevent or treat this deficiency. A 2012 CDC report revealed that Vitamin D3 deficiency is especially common in African Americans.
Being deficient in Vitamin D3 may also lead to mental health problems including depression, seasonal affective disorder, and schizophrenia. Two main reasons help explain why people in Western culture lack Vitamin D3:
- We are taught to avoid sunlight due to the risk of skin cancer, and
- Poor diet and malabsorption of nutrients.
Vitamin D3 is vital for regulating absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and also helping to regulate immune system function. With the majority of Americans lacking the proper amount of Vitamin D3 in their diet and lifestyle, I recommend Diamond Nutritionals’ Vitamin D3 5000 supplement. Just one capsule provides you with a 5,000 IU daily dose. In my experience, this is the proper dosage for the vast majority of adults, to maintain a therapeutic serum blood level.
Mild deficiency of vitamin B6 is also quite common. B6 plays a role in over 200 biochemical reactions in the body, so you can expect that a deficiency can bring about a range of problems. These may include issues of the nerves, skin, mucous membranes, and circulatory system in adults. In children, it can also affect the central nervous system.
“Deficiency can occur in people with kidney failure complications, alcoholism, liver scarring, overactive thyroid, problems with absorbing nutrients, and heart failure, as well as those taking certain medications,” says the Mayo Clinic.
Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamin Formula contains therapeutic amounts of necessary vitamin B6, along with a full spectrum of balanced amounts of vitamins and minerals.
If you’re always tired, consider that you might be low on vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common as you age, affecting 5 to 15 percent of adults.
Once symptoms develop, they are sometimes overlooked because they develop slowly and are similar to many other problems related to growing older. Be alert to symptoms and make sure your doctor includes a serum B12 level as part of your blood testing even if you have no symptoms.
Furthermore, low vitamin B12 can signal pernicious anemia.
Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamin Formula contains B12 in the form of methycobalamin, along with a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals in proper balance.
Cleveland Clinic says that folate (also called B9) is particularly important in early pregnancy. However, it’s really crucial for everyone. Folate supports normal brain function, which affects mood, and aids in the production of DNA.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “it is fairly common to have low levels of folic acid. Alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and celiac disease can cause folic acid deficiency.”
You can get this important nutrient from leafy green vegetables, fruits and legumes. However, many Americans are still not getting enough fruits and vegetables, so consider whether you need a supplement.
Magnesium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies! Magnesium is an essential mineral responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Without enough magnesium, you may suffer from some of these symptoms:
- Migraine headaches
- Restless legs
- Trouble swallowing
- Stomach cramping
- Hair loss
- Cold hands
Many types of beans, seeds, and nuts are packed with magnesium. Dark leafy vegetables like spinach, collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard also contain high levels.
The level of magnesium naturally found in soil these days is not as high as it was for our great grandparents. Therefore, it’s difficult to get enough from diet alone. So in addition to gaining magnesium through the foods you eat, it’s also a good idea to consider a high quality supplement. I recommend chelated magnesium, as it’s much easier for your body to quickly absorb the nutrient and beat your deficiency. For daily maintenance, I recommend 400-600 mg. of supplemental chelated magnesium.
Iron helps your body carry oxygen to cells, so it’s critical in virtually all functions of the body. A lack of iron, either due to deficiency or blood loss, can cause fatigue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, headache, or constantly feeling cold.
The CDC reports that iron deficiency rates are highest in Mexican-American children and in African-American and Mexican-American women. Iron is also crucial for pregnant women.
Talk to your doctor about other vitamins you may lack. Other important nutrients include K2, C, E, and A, which can be found in Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamins Formula. I suggest you seek a quality, professional grade multivitamin and mineral formula, taken on a daily basis, to beat your vitamin and mineral deficiencies and achieve optimal health!
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