Many people with seemingly healthy diets can suffer from vitamin deficiencies. The deficiencies can cause several serious side effects. In severe cases, vitamin deficiency can be deadly.
While it's rare for people in developed nations to suffer from full-blown vitamin deficiencies, even marginal vitamin deficiencies can take a significant toll on people's health. To prevent this, a growing number of people take vitamin supplements. It is essential to take these supplements regularly because for the mind and body may be unable to function properly without them. The wise move is to begin vitamin supplementation before the body begins to show signs and symptoms of vitamin deficiency. By then it may to too late to return the systems of the body to peak efficiency. According to data collected by the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, the vitamin supplements most commonly needed by Americans are vitamin D, B6, A, and K2.
1. Vitamin D
A fat-soluble vitamin found in cod liver oil, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and other fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy products, vitamin D is also produced when sunlight interacts with the cholesterol in the skin. There are vitamin D receptors in most cells in the body. It helps with calcium absorption. People that are vitamin D deficient may experience bone loss, muscle weakness and are at an increased risk for fractures. Vitamin D deficient children may suffer growth delays and develop soft bones or rickets. Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to reduced immune and neuromuscular function as well as an increased risk of developing cancer. The elderly are at greater risk of becoming vitamin D deficient.
2. Vitamin B6
A co-enzyme that plays a role in over one hundred of the body's functions including metabolism, eye, liver and skin health and the nervous system, vitamin B6 is essential for overall health. It's found in bananas, chickpeas, fortified cereal, leafy greens, nuts, poultry, seafood and whole grains. Vitamin B6 helps with protein metabolism and essential for heart health and physical and psychological functions. Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause irritability, anxiety, depression, confusion, neuropsychiatric disorders, anemia, fatigue, muscle pain, seizures, and migraines. It can also leave people at increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. One in 10 Americans is vitamin B6 deficient and needs a B6 supplement.
3. Vitamin A
An essential fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A helps create and maintain healthy cell membranes, eyes, skin, bones, and teeth. Good sources of vitamin A include milk, cheese, fish, meat, poultry and other animal products, as well as fruits and vegetables including sweet potato, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A deficiency causes eye damage and is the leading cause of blindness in the world. It also suppresses immune function and can lead to an increased death rate among children and women who are pregnant or lactating. Taking a vitamin A supplement can help to protect your vision.
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is part of a family of fat-soluble antioxidant compounds. It helps to support brain health, normal cholesterol levels, as well as protect against free-radical damage. Nuts, seeds, legumes, olive oil, broccoli, spinach and other green vegetables are excellent dietary sources of vitamin E. Being vitamin E deficient may cause brain damage, loss of cognitive function, damage to cellular membrane and neuronal death. Eating full-spectrum vitamin E helps the liver produce DHA, a critically important molecule for brain health. Consuming vitamin supplements containing the 'D' form of vitamin E can provide maximum benefits.
5. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is important for optimal health. It’s essential for cell growth, tissue renewal, bone strength, artery, blood vessel and cardiovascular health, healthy pregnancy, as well as cancer prevention. Vitamin K2 also helps vitamin D work properly. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods like soy natto, sauerkraut, brie or gouda cheese, raw butter, kefir and other raw dairy products. People deficient in vitamin K2 are more susceptible to osteoporosis, excessive bruising and bleeding, low bone mass, dental cavities, heart disease, diabetes or pre-diabetes, autoimmune diseases and memory problems. A good vitamin K2 supplement will contain Menaquinone-7.
If you think you have a vitamin deficiency, talk with your doctor about treatment and vitamin supplementation.
The information contained in this article should not be used to replace the advice, care, diagnosis or treatment from a medical doctor, certified personal trainer, therapist, dietitian, or nutritionist.