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Could You Be Ignoring These 7 Most Common Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

HealthcareOnTime Team 2023-10-15 2023-10-16 3 Min Read
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  • most common vitamin deficiency symptoms

    Eating a well-balanced diet makes up for your body’s nutritional needs while a lack of sufficient nutrients can make your body function abnormally. There are 13 essential vitamins that your body needs to promote cell function, growth, and development. In the absence of these vitamins, your body may experience vitamin deficiency diseases that often accompany a range of signs such as fatigue, poor memory, irritability, dry skin, and hair fall, among others. The signs of vitamin deficiency may vary depending on the specific vitamin your body is lacking.

    For instance, vitamin B deficiency may lead to tiredness, numbness, or weakness while vitamin D deficiency may make your bones weak and fragile, leading to osteoporosis. There are a number of vitamin deficiency causes, such as medicines, certain medical conditions, or lack of proper nutrients. If you’re experiencing any of these signs, your healthcare provider may check for vitamin deficiency through vitamin deficiency tests and prescribed supplements to fill the gap in your diet.

    7 Most Common Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms: Red Flags You Shouldn't Ignore

    1. Poor vision

    Vitamin A helps produce a pigment called rhodopsin that helps you see the full spectrum of light. Low vitamin A levels may stop the production of this pigment which leads to poor vision or even colour blindness [1]. Vitamin A also lubricates your eye and cornea. In the absence of this vitamin, your eyes may feel dry or irritated, leading to a condition called xerophthalmia. Xerophthalmia, if left untreated, causes foamy growths on the white part of the eyes. Other common signs of vitamin deficiency, especially Vitamin A deficiency are headaches, nausea, bone and joint pain, etc. 

    Vitamin A is fat-soluble and can become toxic when stored excessively in the body. Excessive intake of vitamin A, often from supplements containing preformed vitamin A (retinol), is more common than deficiency in the United States.[2]

    Sources: Organ meats, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, yellow and orange-coloured veggies, or vitamin A supplements are Superfoods for Improved Eyesight and Ocular Health

    Did you know: 

    • Vitamin A deficiency is the primary cause of avoidable childhood blindness on a global scale. [3]
    • Vitamin A deficiency affects up to 30% of children under five years [4]
    • In 2013, the World Health Organization classified vitamin A deficiency as a public health issue, impacting approximately one-third of children aged 6 to 59 months, with the highest rates found in sub-Saharan Africa (48 percent) and South Asia (44 percent). [5]

    2. Hair loss

    Hair loss, one of the multivitamin deficiency symptoms, is extremely common in men and women. In fact, more than half of India's population [6] witness intense hair fall or receding hairline owing to a host of factors. Lack of certain vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin B3 and B7, may lead to weak hair roots, resulting in extreme hair loss.

    Your hair cells also need zinc, iron, Linoleic acid (LA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to promote healthy cells. Nutrients that can help prevent or slow down hair loss include:

    • Iron: Vital for DNA synthesis in hair follicles. [7]
    • Zinc: Essential for protein synthesis and cell division needed for hair growth.[8]
    • Linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): Essential fatty acids crucial for hair growth and maintenance. 
    • Niacin (vitamin B3): Necessary for overall hair health. [9]
    • Biotin (vitamin B7): Linked to hair loss when deficient. [10]

    Hair growth supplements may contain some of these nutrients, excessive intake of certain nutrients, like selenium and vitamin A, can lead to hair loss. Therefore, it is generally recommended to focus on a nutrient-rich diet rather than relying on supplements for hair health. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a dermatologist before starting any new supplements to determine the best approach for your specific needs. 

    Excessive selenium intake [11]can cause symptoms like hair loss and interact with medications, while vitamin A excess may lead to blurred vision and pose risks during pregnancy or with certain medications. Adhering to recommended daily limits is essential to prevent adverse effects.

    Sources: Spinach, pumpkin seeds, legumes, lentils, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains seafood, mushrooms are superfoods for hair growth the key to healthy hair

    3. Poor memory or depression

    Vitamin deficiency is also linked to signs of clinical depression. Your body needs vitamins B, C, and D to fight free radical damage [12] and inflammation in the healthy brain cells. Inflammation in healthy cells is primarily the cause of mood changes, anxiety, and depression. Supplements may help treat inflammation but they can’t be replaced with antidepressants. Ask your doctor about the vitamin supplements you need, along with other medications to treat signs of depression. 

    Sources: Green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, dairy products, lentils, etc.

    4. Poor wound healing

    Does your wound take longer than usual to heal itself? It can be one of the multivitamin deficiency symptoms. The vitamins you consume through your diet help contribute to wound or injury healing by boosting collagen production and clotting blood. Many other vitamins like A, B, C, D, and K17 also stimulate cell or tissue regeneration[13], while others heal through their antioxidative properties. Easy bruising or bleeding is another multivitamin deficiency symptom you should not overlook. 

    Sources: Green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy products, legumes, oranges or citrus fruits, apricots, and cherry seeds. 

    5. Numbness, fatigue, swollen tongue

    Vitamin B12 helps in the production of RBCs and DNA. Those who remain on vegan or vegetarian diets are more at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency [16] because plants don’t make this vitamin as required by the body. If you have had weight loss surgery in the past, you may have a hard time absorbing this nutrient from your diet, which might also result in Vitamin B12 deficiency. Some vitamin deficiency diseases include anaemia, memory loss, poor thinking, etc. You may also experience inflammation in the tongue, and weakness or numbness in the legs, hands, or feet. Naturally, to address Vitamin B12 deficiency, it's essential to focus on foods rich in this nutrient. Foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals are excellent food sources of Vitamin B12. However, it's crucial to be aware of foods to eat and avoid for Vitamin B12 deficiency.

    Sources: Fish, chicken, milk, and yoghurt, milk and dairy products, fortified cereals, etc. 

    6. Brittle hair and nails

    The most common cause of brittle hair and nails is a lack of biotin in the diet. Biotin, also called vitamin B7, helps your body convert food into energy. Some of the common signs of biotin deficiency [17] include brittle or thin hair and nails, fatigue, muscle pain, tingling in the hands, cramps, etc. Pregnant women or those who binge consume alcohol are mostly at risk of developing biotin deficiency. 

    Below are the Nutrient Deficiencies to Watch For brittle nails

    • Vitamin B12: Vital for iron absorption and strong nails. [18]
    • Vitamin C: Supports nail growth; deficiency leads to brittleness.
    • Folate (Vitamin B9): Important for nail health and growth.
    • Iron: Iron-deficiency anemia can weaken nails.
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Reduce inflammation, promote nail health.
    • Calcium: Rare, but low levels may cause brittle nails.

    Sources: Egg whites, fish, meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bananas, spinach, and whole grains. 

    7. Changes in skin tone

    Vitamins help maintain your skin type and tone. Lack of vitamins in your diet can manifest in different forms, such as dark spots, hyperpigmentation, yellow or pale skin, fine lines, and blemishes. Light-coloured spots or lack of pigmentation may also result due to vitamin D deficiency, while hyperpigmentation [19] may occur due to vitamin B and D deficiency. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts collagen synthesis, a protein present in connective tissues of your skin and hair. With low vitamin c levels in your blood, you may experience a condition called keratosis pilaris. In this condition “chicken skin” starts to form on the back of your arms, buttocks, etc. 

    Sources: Mushrooms, Eggs, Beef, Milk, Legumes, Salmon, Leafy Veggies, kiwi, broccoli, oranges, bell peppers, etc. 

    Vitamin deficiency symptoms chart


    Deficiency Diseases/ Signs


    Poor vision or night blindness


    Hair loss, dementia, redness of the tongue, skin rash, diarrhoea 


    Thin hair, brittle nails, scaly skin


    Anaemia, poor memory, delay in thought processing


    Fatigue, irritability, changes in skin colour, hyperpigmentation


    Weak bones, muscle pain, cramps, osteoporosis and fractures


    Poor wound healing, easy bleeding and bruising

    Diagnosis of Vitamin Deficiency

    Some vitamin deficiencies may have more than one sign because signs of vitamin deficiency do not necessarily correlate. Diagnosis through a complete vitamin profile test is the only way to rule out particular vitamin deficiency. Your healthcare provider may run some blood tests for vitamin deficiency only if you have signs such as poor wound healing, fatigue, tiredness, poor memory, bone and muscle pain. On-time diagnosis is crucial for ensuring prevention of vitamin deficiency as well as existing signs. 

    Treatment of Vitamin Deficiency

    If the doctor rules out you have a particular vitamin deficiency through vitamin deficiency tests, he may prescribe vitamin supplements and suggest changes in your diet to fill the nutritional gap. If a medical condition is the cause of the deficiency, he may recommend more diagnostic tests or Lab Test At-home and suggest a treatment plan accordingly. 

    A Note From HealthcareOnTime

    It's clear that our dietary choices play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to a wide range of health issues, from poor vision to hair loss, memory problems, and more. Understanding the signs and symptoms of these deficiencies is the first step in addressing them.

    By following a well-balanced diet and ensuring that we get the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need, we can significantly reduce the risk of these deficiencies. However, it's also important to be aware of the potential for excessive intake, as some nutrients can be harmful in large quantities.

    Regular Health checkups with healthcare providers, along with diagnostic tests for specific deficiencies, can help us take proactive steps to maintain our health. Whether it's through dietary adjustments, supplements, or other treatments, addressing nutrient deficiencies is essential for a healthier and more vibrant life.


    The information listed here is strictly for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. Do consult your physician for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. It’s not advised to disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information listed here. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.


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