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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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