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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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