Consequences of vitamin deficency

What problems are caused by lack of vitamins?

Symptoms produced by vitamin deficiency and insufficiency

For many years we have known that lack of vitamins causes diseases. For example, in the past ships had the rule to carry lemons during long sea crossings, to avoid scurvy caused by vitamin C deficiency, and the numerous casualties caused by this disease among sailors.

Nowadays, vitamin deficiency diseases occur mostly in underdeveloped countries, with malnutrition problems.

Why are so many people worried about their vitamin levels?

food
The non-supplemented vegetarian diet produces vitamin B12 deficiency (even if eggs or dairy are taken).

At the same time, in the first world, most people have great availability of food at their disposal. However, the lack of vitamins is a concern that affects more and more people. Proof of this is that, in the last decades, the sale of multivitamin supplements have multiplied exponentially. To what does this concern respond?

As explained below, most people have adequate levels of vitamins, and supplementation is not recommended except in very specific cases. See which vitamins are most at risk of deficit and which symptoms indicate their deficiency.

Difference between deficit and vitamin insufficiency

Technically, you should only talk about vitamin deficiency when the lack is chronic and causes diseases. Colloquially or popularly, we refer to deficit, lack, or vitamin deficiency when we have low levels of some vitamin, below the threshold that is considered optimal or adequate to avoid a deficiency disease. This is because it has been observed that low levels of certain vitamins can give certain symptoms or even increase the risk of diseases in the future.

For example, an inadequate diet can produce vitamin insufficiency (very low levels that produce symptoms) or, in the long term, vitamin deficiency (low levels that produce diseases).

Which vitamins are more likely to be missing?

The vitamins that usually lack in the organism with relatively more ease are the water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and group of vitamins B), since the body eliminates in the urine those that are left over. However, the body itself has mechanisms to preserve these vitamins, even if they are water soluble, so deficits do not occur until 3 months.

The fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K) usually do not lack as much if the diet is varied, with the exception of vitamin D, whose deficit has been observed recently in many people, and occurs when few activities are carried out outdoors (sedentary lifestyle, office workers, etc.).

Who can have a lack of vitamins?

Normally, a sufficient diet does not produce vitamin deficiencies. There is only risk of deficiency when there are dietary restrictions, for example in case of allergies, people who do not like to eat vegetables, or a poorly advised vegetarian diet.

Causes of deficiency

Summarizing the possible causes of vitamin deficiency are:

  • Inadequate diet, insufficient in certain components.

  • Little sun exposure, in the case of vitamin D.

  • Diseases that affect the production, absorption or metabolism of vitamins: skin diseases, digestive diseases (ulcers, hepatitis, pancreatitis, leaky intestine, Crohn, etc.), nephrotic syndrome or other disorders.

  • People who have increased requirements, such as pregnant women who do not eat properly, people who take medications that lower vitamin levels or the absorption of vitamins, or smokers (in these latter cases, it is usually noted by the presence of high homocysteine).

Effects of vitamin deficiency or insufficiency

The complete study of each of the vitamins shows the benefits that each of them brings to the organism, its form of ingestion, its source, the symptoms that produce its deficiency, as well as its possible toxicity when used in the form of supplements. . By way of summary, we show you below which are the main dyes that produce the lack of a specific vitamin: (For complete information, click on the desired vitamin)

The vitamins that are often lacking in the body are in general the water soluble ones (vitamin C and vitamin B) because the body eliminates the excess. Fat-soluble vitamins are seldom absent.

Our complete study on each one of the vitamins demonstrates the benefits of each in our body, how we get them out of eating, their source, symptoms produced by its deficency and their potential toxicity when used as supplements.

However, as a summary, we show below the main issues produced by the lack of any specific vitamin (For complete information click on the desired vitamin)

deficiencia o insuficiencia de vitamina d en analitica o analisis de sangre
Sample of a blood test in which a vitamin D deficiency can be seen due to lack of daily sun exposure.

Symptoms of lack of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K

  • Vitamin D: This vitamin is one of the few vitamins that are deficient in the diet, because it is obtained from the sun. Foods do not have much vitamin D, so it is increasingly common lack of this vitamin, especially in sedentary people, office workers, etc.
    - Low levels of vitamin D (insufficiency) produce: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, decay, muscle weakness, stones or kidney stones, calcium malabsorption, hypertension, depression. (More information)
    - A deficiency of vitamin D produces: Rickets, fragility of the bones with problems to weld in case of breakage, osteomalacia (little calcification of the bones in adults).

  • Vitamin A: Normally the diet provides enough of this vitamin, which also has a store in the liver.
    - Insufficient vitamin A produces: Night blindness (poor vision with low lighting conditions), tiredness, poor skin condition (scaly, rough), muscle pains, desire to vomit, teeth in poor condition, bleeding gums, ease to get infections, etc.
    - Deficiency of vitamin A produces: Keratinization of the cornea (xerophthalmia), growth retardation in children, coordination problems and nervous system.

  • Vitamin E: This is obtained from foods naturally rich in fats and poorly refined, such as avocados, seeds and virgin oils.
    - Insufficiency of vitamin E produces: Lack of sexual desire, fertility problems, neuromuscular problems, lack of reflexes, myopathies, cardiovascular diseases, anemia, hemorrhages, cardiac degeneration, nervous problems, difficulties in maintaining balance with diminished reflexes and difficulty walking .

  • Vitamin K: Normally there is no deficit because our own intestinal flora is able to provide this vitamin. The greatest risk of deficit is in newborns, precisely because they do not have intestinal flora.
    - Insufficiency of vitamin K produces: Problems in the coagulation of the blood and in the calcification of the bones.
    - Deficiency of vitamin K produces: Hemorrhages, hemorrhagic disease in the newborn.


Vitamin deficits in those of the vitamin B complex

fair hair
Low levels of vitamin B, iron and zinc, can cause hair weakness, premature graying and hair loss.

Low levels of vitamin B, iron and zinc, can cause hair weakness, premature graying and hair loss.

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
    - Insufficient vitamin B1 produces: Insomnia, weakness, fatigue, low muscle strength, weight loss, indeterminate pain, digestive problems, heart problems, depression, irritability, etc.
    - Vitamin B1 deficiency produces: beri beri disease, Wernike Korsakoff syndrome (associated with alcoholism)

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
    - Insufficiency of vitamin B2 produces: Delayed growth, painful and reddened eyes, dermatitis, sores in the mouth, chapped lips, cracks in the corners of the lips, dermatitis, discomfort in the vision by a lot of light, protruding moles (seborrheic keratosis), etc.
    - Vitamin B2 deficiency produces: Generally associated with alcoholism.

  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin or vitamin PP)
    - Insufficiency of vitamin B3 produces: Lack of energy, headache, bad breath, lack of appetite, muscle weakness, irritability, nervousness, indeterminate pain, depression, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, etc.
    - Deficiency of vitamin B3 produces: Pellagra.

  • Vitamin B5 (Pantotheic acid)
    - Insufficiency of vitamin B5 produces: Cramps in the muscles, stomach problems, tiredness, desire to vomit, difficulty sleeping, mental clumsiness, cardiac arrhythmia, burning feet sensation, etc.
    - Deficiency of vitamin B5 produces: Generally associated with malnutrition.

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
    - Insufficient vitamin B6 produces: Insomnia, anemia, lack of muscle tone, skin problems, hair loss or alopecia, nervousness, cramps in the arms and legs, fluid retention, difficulty learning, seborrheic dermatitis, depression ,etc.
    - Deficiency of vitamin B6 produces: Hypochromic anemia.

  • Biotin (Vitamin B7, B8 or H)
    - Insufficiency of vitamin B7 produces: Extreme weakness, lack of appetite, scaly skin, muscle pains, depression, gray hair, etc.
    - Deficiency of vitamin B7 produces: MCD (Multiple Carboxylase Deficiency), metabolic acidosis, loss of reflexes, neuromuscular involvement, alopecia.

    woman with child
    The lack of folic acid and B12 can occur in pregnancy, when the requirements are very high.
  • Folic acid (vitamin B9):
    - Insufficiency of vitamin B9 produces: Deficiency of vitamin B12, gastrointestinal problems, premature gray hair.
    - Vitamin B9 deficiency produces: megaloblastic anemia, spina bifida in the newborn, cardiovascular diseases arteriosclerosis due to increased homocysteine.

  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
    - Insufficiency of vitamin B12 produces: Lack of appetite, little growth in children, fatigue, depression, balance problems, diarrhea, pain in the mouth or tongue, etc.
    - Deficiency of vitamin B12 produces: megaloblastic anemia (macrocytic, normochromic), inflammation of nerves (neuritis), degeneration of the spinal cord, brain damage, neuropathy due to degeneration of myelin sheaths, arteriosclerosis due to increased homocysteine.

Deficit due to lack of vitamin C

  • Vitamin C: (Ascorbic acid) Difficulty healing wounds and fractures, hair weakness with bleeding problems in the gums or nose, easy to develop bruises, swollen and painful joints, anemia, digestive problems, collagen synthesis problems ( skin, hair, nails, bones, muscles), poor scarring, inflamed gums, edema, hemorrhage, skin lesions, fatigue, etc. Insufficiency: scurvy.

punto rojo More information on vitamins.

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