This is the second post in this series, visit this page: vitamin deficiency symptoms for the first part, which includes information on the A, B and C vitamins.
Vitamins and minerals are vital for growth and health as they play a key role in the prevention and treatment of diseases. Although the body is in great need of vitamins, most of them can only be obtained from food sources or supplements, as the body is unable to synthesize them itself. Lack of any vitamin can arise to deficiencies; these normally develop slowly. Vitamin deficiency symptoms can be undetected when mild.
Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin D is technically not a type of vitamin but is classified as a substance that is made by the blood naturally and should be supplied daily to sustain life processes. This is predominantly made by the reaction of sunlight or ultraviolet light on the vitamin D precursor, which is the 7-dehydrolcholesterol that is found in the skin. Trace amounts of vitamin D can also be found in foods that are fortified with this nutrient and 90% or more of it comes via sun/7-dehydrolcholesterol.
One of the major causes of vitamin D deficiency is lack of sun exposure which is why this deficiency more often occurs in the extreme northern and southern regions; areas where people don’t have much exposure to sunlight during the winter time.
People who have limited exposure to sunlight, living in the higher latitudes, and dark-skinned, are at higher risks with this kind vitamin deficiency. A deficit in vitamin D has been shown to impair the proper function of the cells that produce insulin, which can possibly lead to type two diabetes.
Other main vitamin deficiency symptoms include retarded growth or skeletal deformities in children, rickets – which causes soft bones, muscle or bone pain, frequent bone fractures, low back pain, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, higher risk of periodontal disease in adults, increased risk of high blood pressure, increased risk of diabetes, low blood calcium level or hypocalcemia, twitching nerves or muscles, irritability, irregular heart contractions, and tingling and numbness of fingers and toes.
Foods that are good sources of vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, fish liver oils, shrimp and sardines. Other sources are egg yolk, animal liver, alfalfa, oatmeal, fortified milk, salt-water fish such as tuna, halibut and cod; and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin E is powerful antioxidant that can help neutralize the free radicals caused by cell and tissue damage. It also helps decrease the risk of bladder and prostate cancer, boosts the function of the body’s immune system, slows cellular aging due to oxidation, acts as an antioxidant that delays degenerative diseases, lowers the risk of skin cancer, and helps protect the skin from the damaging ultraviolet radiation. Recent studies have shown that vitamin E is also helpful in preventing or delaying neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s disease; vital for the formation of red blood cells; protects the body against heart diseases and atherosclerosis; and is important for reproduction and fertility.
Although severe deficit of vitamin E is rare, some of its symptoms can include nausea, loss of appetite, weak immune system, anemia because of loss of red blood cells, severe chest pains, eye problems such as degeneration of the retina or cataracts, spasms or stiffness, irritability, clumsiness, testicular or uterine deterioration, digestive tract problems such as gallbladder or liver disorders resulting to poor absorption of food, and miscarriages.
Foods that are rich in vitamin E include soybeans, sunflower, wheat germ oil, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and chard. Blueberries, legumes, nuts, egg yolk, bell pepper, sweet potatoes, papaya and organ meats are also good sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin K is known as a cofactor for the enzyme that catalyzes the amino acid and glutamic acid carboxylation that results in its conversion to gamma-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla). Vitamin K aids in regulating normal blood clotting that prevents excessive blood loss; needed for formation of dentine, bone and cartilage; acts as an antioxidant to fight harmful free radicals; aids in preventing and treating osteoporosis; helps maintain bone mass; and decreases calcium loss.
Deficiency symptoms of vitamin K include bleeding or bruising easily, slow blood clotting, bones fracture easily, and osteoporosis. Food sources of vitamin K are dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beet greens, collard greens, chard, spinach, mustard greens, kale, lettuce, and watercress. Carrots, garbanzo beans, egg yolk, cereals, and beans are also rich in vitamin K.
Flavonoids or vitamin P is known as a powerful antioxidant that helps in neutralizing damaging free radicals and prevents them from damaging the DNAs and the cells in general. It also enhances the effects of other antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione. It is known to work with vitamin C to reduce bruising, bleeding and nosebleeds. Flavonoids are clinically proven in treating varicose veins as well as hemorrhoids. It also aids in stimulating the production of bile and has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic properties. Vitamin P reduces the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases by helping to lower the LDL cholesterol level.
Vitamin P deficiency symptoms include frequent nose bleeds, weak immune system, excessive swelling after injury, and easy bruising. Citrus fruits, broccoli, garlic, celery, black beans, strawberries, oranges, papayas, parsley, rose hips, pine bark, licorice, turnips, kohlrabi, cress, kale, collard greens, cabbage and cauliflower are good sources of flavonoids.
Biotin or vitamin B7 helps the body by promoting healthier skin through proper production of fat, prevents hair loss in males, and is needed for cell division and DNA replication. Biotin is also required for healthy nails and hair, as it is needed in treating seborrheic dermatitis. The body also require vitamin B7 for the synthesis of fatty acids and for the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Since the body can produce biotin in the intestines from food, a deficiency in vitamin B7 is very rare. However vitamin deficiency symptoms can include mental depression, muscle pain or cramps, numbness and tingling of extremities, loss of appetite, nervo-muscular symptoms such as numbness, seizures, and tingling of extremities; fatigue or extreme exhaustion, dry scaly, vomiting and nausea. Foods that are rich in biotin are romaine lettuce, carrots, liver, Swiss chard, oats, yeast, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, cauliflower, raspberries, strawberries, almonds, soybeans and salt-water fish.