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7 Signs You’re Having Vitamin Deficiency

7 Signs You’re Having Vitamin Deficiency

Let’s face it, modern convenience food is really — well, convenient! If you work crazy hours, have a long commute or need to balance a job and family life, being able to pop a TV dinner in at the end of the day or simple open up a can or box to get your meal sounds pretty darn good. But beware: there is a down side to eating this way: the risk of vitamin deficiencies.

Fatigue is one of the most common problems in people with low vitamin levels. But these deficiencies can cause some strange signs and symptoms that you might not even really recognize as an issue. Below are seven signs that you might be vitamin deficient — along with advice about foods to get into your diet that will help to treat this problem naturally.

1. Your muscles ache

If you notice that you are having muscle aches on a regular basis for no obvious reason (such as a strenuous workout), then you might be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency.  This deficiency is one of the most common, but it can be difficult to diagnose since the symptoms are so vague. But if these achy muscles are also accompanied by problems with your teeth and bones, get your levels tested. This vitamin is needed for health bones, teeth and muscles.

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To get more vitamin D into your diet, try included milk or other dairy products (like yogurt or cottage cheese) that have been vitamin D-fortified or fatty fish like salmon or tuna (though no more than twice a week do avoid a mercury build-up).  You should also try to get small amounts of exposure to the sun on a daily basis.

2. Your feet feel numb

If you notice a feeling of numbness or lack of sensation in your feet and also find that you have trouble walking (such as problems with balance or falling often), then low levels of vitamin B12 might be the problem. Why? Because vitamin B12 is necessary for the health and function of your brain and nervous system. If you do not have enough of it in your system, this can make it more difficult for the brain to communicate to the nerves and numbness and balance problems can result.

In order to up the levels of B12 in your diet, choose to eat more animal-based foods like fish, chicken and dairy products and more plant-based foods like milk or meat substitutes and breakfast cereals that have been B12-fortifed.

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3. You have problems with night vision

Do you make excuses not to go out after dinner because it is hard for you to see at night?  If so, you might be suffering from a vitamin A deficiency.  This is because vitamin D is needed to make pigments for the photoreceptor cells in your eyes help you to see in low light. If you do not have enough vitamin A, your night vision can suffer and it can cause other visual problems like macular degeneration as well.

A vitamin A-rich diet should include leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and orange bell peppers, cantaloupes and eggs.

4. You have slow reflexes

If it feels like it takes a while to react to things — such as catching a ball or stopping the car suddenly is someone pulls out in front of you  — it might not just be natural clumsiness on your part!  A deficiency of vitamin E might be the problem.  Vitamin E is needed for nerve health and, like B12, helps with the communication between your brain and the nerves which control your muscles and reflexes.  A lack of this nutrient makes that communication hard.

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Getting more vitamin E in your diet can be done by consuming more wheat germ (the richest source of this nutrient) as well as eggs and mayonnaise, organ meats, nuts and seeds and avocadoes.

5. Your wounds are hard to heal

If you notice that it takes a longer time than normal to heal up after you cut yourself or have some other injury, part of the problem might be a lack of vitamin C.  That is because the skin cells and other cells that have to reproduce themselves in order to begin the heal process after an injury need vitamin C (along with vitamin A and zinc) in order to do this.  Without these nutrients, it is a lot harder to heal and can increase your risk that the wound will get infected.

To get more vitamin C in your diet, add an abundance of citrus fruits (like lemons, limes and grapefruits) and leafy green vegetables (like spinach, arugula and kale) to your meals on a regular basis.

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6. You feel blue often

Not all symptoms of vitamin deficiencies are physical. Everyone feels a bit glum sometimes, but if you notice that is problem is getting worse and you are experiencing depression or sadness most days, this might be due to a low level of vitamin B1.  Like B12, this vitamin is needed for the health of your nerve and brain cells: if you do not have enough B1 in your body, these cells do not function as well and psychological problems like depression can result. This vitamin deficiency is rare, but can happen if someone is suffering from conditions like alcoholism, Crohn’s disease or anorexia.

B12-rich foods that you can add to your diet to help treat this include red and white meats and organ meats (like liver), peas, beans and lentils, wheat germ and blackstrap molasses.

7. You have bad breath

Bad breath, especially if you are brushing, flossing and practicing good oral hygiene, can also be because of a vitamin deficiency, in this case that of vitamin B3. That is because a lack of B3 leads to poor liver function. Since the liver is needed for the stomach and intestines to work properly, this will in turn lead to poor digestion, a leading cause of bad breath. This deficiency can also cause low energy levels is also common in people struggling with alcoholism.

In order to get more of this vitamin in your diet, eat plenty of organs meats, fatty fish, sunflower seeds and vegetables like beets.

In short, vitamin deficiencies can be difficult things to treat, mostly because people often will not realize there is a problem in the first place. If you do have any of the symptoms above and suspect this might be the problem, talk to your doctor. Simple blood tests are able to determine if levels of a particular vitamin are normal — and if they are not, you can then work with your doctor to come up with a plan of care that will boost those levels back to where they need to be and keep your body healthy.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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