I’ve finally started to return to my office after being cooped up for nearly 5 weeks. It’s hard to believe how long some of us have been “sheltering in place.”
One thing I’ve noticed is just how many people are out exercising. I’m thrilled to see that so many people who lead really busy lives now have a little extra time for some physical activity.
And now, more than perhaps ever before, we’re seeing just what protection eating a healthy diet, maintaining a normal weight for your height, getting quality sleep and exercising can provide.
I hope as life continues to slowly resume to a normal pace that more folks will take the steps they need to bring their life into a manageable balance that puts health and wellness at the top of the list… instead of going back to the go, go, go lifestyle so many of us live.
One of the first steps to address is whether you have any vitamin deficiencies you need to correct.
In many modern countries, even the U.S. where most people have access to high-quality nutrition, vitamin deficiencies are more common than you realize.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vitamin C deficiency affects six percent of the U.S. population, while low levels of vitamin D compromise the health of another 8.1 percent. And when it comes to B6, 10.5 percent of people are deficient.
And guess what…
That’s only the CDC’s estimates.
Many health experts believe that the percentage of Americans whose numbers are outside the optimal range is much higher than reported.
For example, while the Vitamin D Council says that blood levels of vitamin D below 20 ng/mL constitute a deficiency, it actually states that the ideal level is between 40 and 80 ng/mL — double to quadruple the number at which you would be diagnosed as deficient.
So, how do you know if you’re getting enough of the essential nutrients?
Besides having your blood work done at your doctor’s office on a yearly basis, you should pay attention to these six often sneaky signs of vitamin deficiency:
1. Dry eyes
A form of dry eye known as xerophthalmia is caused by a deficiency of vitamin A.
The deficiency can also lead to night blindness by stopping the production of the pigments your retinas need to function properly.
These problems make a lot of sense since doctors recommend beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, for optimal eye health.
Boost your vitamin A by eating eggs, orange and yellow veggies and fruits and beta-carotene sources such as broccoli and spinach.
2. Mouth ulcers
Getting painful canker sores in your mouth could be a sign that you’re not getting enough vitamin B12.
In fact, while researchers have found that these mouth ulcers affect more than 25 percent of people, a simple nightly dose of 1,000 mcg of B12 could help prevent all of that discomfort.
Another sign of B12 deficiency is dizziness.
According to Dr. Gregory Whitman, an ear and brain specialist with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital in Massachusetts, low levels of the nutrient can lead to decreased blood flow to your brain, causing you to feel off balance.
Animal products, like dairy and meat, are where you’ll find B12… that’s why it’s so important for vegetarians and vegans to supplement.
4. Heart palpitations
Feel like your heart is jumping around or fluttering inside your chest?
Well, low B12 could also be behind those palpitations.
B12 deficiency is linked to anemia and can lead to serious heart problems if not caught and treated early.
Other symptoms to look for include:
- Breathlessness after light exertion
- Soreness in your mouth or tongue
5. Red, swollen gums
Your gums need vitamin C to stay strong and healthy. So, if you’re not getting enough of this citrus vitamin, they can become red and swollen and even begin to bleed.
The longer this goes on, the higher your risk becomes of tooth loss. In the end stages, your gums can begin to look purple and rotten.
According to the National Institutes of Health, citrus fruits, tomatoes, tomato juice and potatoes are major contributors of vitamin C to the American diet. Other good food sources include red and green peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe. If you’re deficient, though, a supplement would do your gums good.
6. Hair Loss
If you’re suddenly losing more hair than usual, it’s time to get your vitamin D levels checked.
The nutrient is not only necessary to stimulate new hair follicles, but it’s also needed for the production of keratin — the protein that makes up your hair.
In fact, studies have shown that people who experience everything from accelerated hair loss to the alopecia that leads to bald patches are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D.
Getting the proper amount of nutrients is vital to the long-term health of every system in your body. So, be aware of these subtle signs of vitamin deficiency to protect your health long-term.