Vitamin What? A Quick Guide to Vitamin Deficiencies and Supplements

If you’ve ever walked down the vitamin aisle of the CVS or stepped foot in a Vitamin Shoppe or GMC, I’m sure you’ve seen aisles upon aisles of vitamin supplements. But do you need them? And will they make you ripped, a genius, or help you lose weight, as many of the bottles claim? Probably not, but they may help you avoid fatigue, sleep better, and feel fuller, in some cases. Read on to find out if you could benefit from supplements and how to navigate the vitamin aisle(s).

Vitamin Deficiencies

Many people in the United States and around the world suffer from vitamin deficiencies. In a report released by the CDC, they found that the most prevalent vitamin deficiencies were Vitamin B6 deficiency (which impacts 10.5% of the United States population,) iron deficiency (which affected 9.5% of United States women and 6.7% of the overall population) and Vitamin D deficiency (which impacts an estimated 8.1% of Americans.) But what are the symptoms of these deficiencies and when should you see a doctor for them?

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia, which predominantly impacts women of childbearing age, vegans, and vegetarians, is a lack of iron in the bloodstream. Symptoms include unusual tiredness or fatigue, heart palpitations, headaches and dizziness, dry skin, restless leg syndrome, and in some cases, a craving to eat ice, dirt, or clay, called pica. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement, and make a supplement only if he or she recommends it. Some iron-rich foods you can add to your diet in tandem with a supplement are leafy greens, red meat, peas and beans, seafood, and nuts.  On the other hand, taking too many iron supplements can sometimes lead to iron poisoning, which starts to show symptoms in the first six hours after taking too many supplements. Iron poisoning can be fatal in the absence of medical treatment.

Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency, which impacts an estimated 40% of the global population, is an absence or low amount of iodine in the bloodstream. Iodine, which is essential for regulating the health of your thyroid, is now found in salt in the United States. Because iodine is used to control your thyroid, deficiencies can cause an enlarged thyroid and hypothyroidism. Since your body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. To increase your iodine levels, consider using iodized salt or eating bread, milk, eggs, or dairy, or cheese. If the body receives too much iodine, you are at risk for causing or worsening pre-existing hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

Vitamin D Deficiency

The deficiency of vitamin D, or hypovitaminosis D, is more prevalent in those who tend to avoid the sun, are vegans, or are lactose intolerant. Vitamin D, which is naturally produced by your body in response to the sun, is also present in fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy and grain products. Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include bone pain and muscle weakness, being sick often, fatigue, depression, wounds taking a long time to heal, bone and hair loss, and muscle pain.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Vitamin B6, which is present in many foods, is typically deficient through a secondary deficiency, which can be caused by malabsorption, alcoholism, and loss during hemodialysis. Unlike any of the other deficiencies on this list, Vitamin B6 usually will be diagnosed through a clinical evaluation rather than a laboratory test, as there is no commonly accepted lab test for this deficiency. In adults, the symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency are confusion, seizures, depression, and abnormalities in an EKG.

A Vitamin Overview

You should only take vitamins at the discretion of a doctor. Multivitamins, which contain a large smattering of many other vitamins, have recently proved to be ineffective for weight loss, longer life, and preventing memory loss.

Do you take vitamins? Let us know what your experience has been in the comments below!

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