Potential Consequences of a Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency
By definition, a vitamin “deficiency” means your body does not produce or receive enough of a certain nutrient. Certain medical conditions can also lead to developing a deficiency. To classify the lack of a certain vitamin as “deficient,” your body must be missing the nutrient over a period of time, typically more than one month.
The potential consequences of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, depending on which vitamin or mineral you are deficient in, can vary from symptoms like itchy skin to more significant conditions like anemia, an irregular heartbeat, or depression. Vitamin deficiencies can also increase the risk of diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Because vitamin deficiencies are not easy to see on the surface, many people believe that they don’t have one. In reality, more than 90% of the U.S. population is deficient in at least one essential vitamin. Finding out if you have a vitamin deficiency is the first step in correcting the deficiency and lowering the risk of developing serious conditions and diseases.
Common Vitamin Deficiencies and Their Consequences
Vitamins are micronutrients that are essential to our well-being. They are critical for development when we are children and remain vastly important as we age. There are 13 essential vitamins that all humans need for optimal wellness, but the top four key vitamins will be the focus as we continue.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus — both critical for building bone. Also, laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections, and reduce inflammation.
Vitamin D is critical for many processes in your body as evidenced by almost every cell in the human body having a receptor for vitamin D. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” your body produces vitamin D from cholesterol in your skin when exposed to sunlight. It’s not surprising that so many people are not getting enough vitamin D as many of us do not get the sunlight we need each day.
Other factors, besides medical conditions, that put people at risk of low vitamin D levels include:
Age: As you age, your body’s ability to make vitamin D decreases, this is especially true in people over the age of 65. Also, babies who are breastfed tend to have lower levels of vitamin D because breastmilk only contains a trace amount of the vitamin.
Skin color: It is more difficult for people with darker complexions to make vitamin D than those with lighter skin. People with darker skin are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
Mobility/Location: People who aren’t able to get outside for exposure to sunlight tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. Where you live can also affect the amount of vitamin D your body produces. People who live in the northern half of the United States receive much less sunlight than those in the southern half.
A vitamin D deficiency, like many vitamin deficiencies, is not obvious and symptoms develop over time. Some common symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include:
- Frequent illness or infections
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Bone and back pain
- Impaired wound healing
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
- Weight gain
However, you may not have any symptoms at all. Testing to measure your vitamin D levels is the only accurate way to find out if you have a deficiency. (More on that to come).
Vitamin A is vital for healthy vision, metabolism, and cell development. It also plays an important part in keeping your immune system functioning properly and maintaining an optimized reproductive system. Vitamin A cannot be produced by the body, so you must get it from the foods you eat.
There are two types of vitamin A that your body needs: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A. Preformed vitamin A is also known as retinol and is found in meat, fish, and dairy products. Provitamin A is produced when your body converts carotenoids from plant foods like red, green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables into vitamin A.
Like most vitamin deficiencies, the signs and symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency vary. The only true way to determine whether you have a vitamin A deficiency is to take a genetic test. Some symptoms that may be present with a vitamin A deficiency include:
Eye problems: Vitamin A, more than any other vitamin, is a key factor in eye health. A deficiency can lead to vision loss, and in extreme cases, blindness may occur.
Skin issues: Vitamin A is important for the creation and repair of skin cells; a deficiency can result in dry, scaly, or itchy skin.
Infertility: Vitamin A plays an important role in reproductive health. A deficiency may lead to problems with conception and infertility.
Respiratory tract infections: Your immune system can be affected by low levels of vitamin A in the body which can lead to infections in your throat and chest.
Poor wound healing: Vitamin A promotes the creation of collagen. Collagen is an important component of healthy skin, so a deficiency in vitamin A can hinder the healing process of the skin.
Acne and breakouts: Because vitamin A assists in skin development and helps fight inflammation, it may help prevent or treat acne.
If you suspect that you have a vitamin A deficiency, getting tested will give you the answer. With the right lifestyle changes and supplements, correcting the deficiency can be done.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that it dissolves in water and is delivered to the body’s tissues but is not well stored, so it must be taken daily through food or supplements. It’s the vitamin we all turn to when we start to feel like we’re coming down with a cold, but it’s also important to maintain levels of vitamin C consistently, not just when we’re feeling rundown.
Even before its discovery in the early 1900s, nutrition and health experts recognized that something in citrus fruits could prevent scurvy — a disease that many sailors died from between 1500 and 1800. The antioxidant properties in vitamin C help to neutralize free radicals in the body which helps control infections and promote wound healing.
If you’re eating a balanced diet, getting enough vitamin C should not be difficult. However, many people in the United States still have low levels of the vitamin. Low levels of vitamin C have been associated with a number of conditions, including high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, stroke, some cancers, and atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Rough/bumpy skin: Vitamin C is key in producing collagen in the body. Low levels of vitamin C can lead to a skin condition known as keratosis pilaris. This is when bumpy skin appears on the backs of arms, thighs, or buttocks due to a buildup of keratin.
Easy bruising: Bruising occurs when blood vessels under the skin rupture, causing blood to leak into the surrounding areas. Easy bruising is a common sign of vitamin C deficiency since poor collagen production causes weak blood vessels.
Painful joints: Joints contain a lot of collagen-rich connective tissue, so they can be greatly affected by a vitamin C deficiency.
Poor immunity: Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the immune system. Low vitamin C levels are linked to an increased risk of infection, while severe deficiency can cause death from infectious diseases.
Fatigue/poor mood: You don’t have to be totally deficient in vitamin C for these symptoms to show up — even lower levels of vitamin C in the body produce tiredness and a bad mood.
Although many developed countries do not have high numbers of people with vitamin C deficiencies, there are still a number of people (about 1 in 20) with low levels of the vitamin that experience negative symptoms. There are some very impressive benefits of supplementing vitamin C in your diet. These possible benefits include:
- Reducing the risk of chronic disease
- Managing high blood pressure
- Lowering the risk of heart disease
- Preventing an iron deficiency
- Boosting immunity
- Protecting your memory
Restoring levels of vitamin C in the body can be accomplished with supplementation. Figuring out if you have a deficiency is important because, over time, low levels of vitamin C can lead to a compromised immune system. A compromised immune system can lead to getting sick more often, and more complications when you do get sick.
Magnesium is essential for over 300 processes in the body like protein creation, muscle and nerve function, converting food into energy, and metabolism. Although a full magnesium deficiency is not common, up to 30% of our population is low in its intake of the mineral. Not getting enough magnesium can put you at a higher risk for health problems such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, or osteoporosis.
Magnesium is not made by the body, it must be obtained from the food you eat, or through supplementation.
Initial indications of a magnesium deficiency include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and weakness. Over time, the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can progress to include:
- Heart spasms
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Muscle cramps/spasms
- Personality changes
- Tingling in arms and legs
Another possible sign of a magnesium deficiency is an electrolyte imbalance. If you lack magnesium, the chance of being low in other electrolytes, like calcium and sodium, is high.
Some factors increase the likelihood of a magnesium deficiency; one major aspect that increases the prevalence of a deficiency is age. As we age, our gut does not absorb magnesium as easily, leading to lower levels. Other elements that can lead to a magnesium deficiency include:
Alcohol use disorder (AUD): Pancreatitis is more common in people who abuse alcohol. This increases fatty stools, diarrhea, and vomiting, causing more magnesium to leave the body than usual.
Gastrointestinal diseases (GI): GI illnesses like celiac and Crohn’s disease can lead to diarrhea and fat absorption — both of which inhibit the body from absorbing magnesium.
Type 2 diabetes: Insulin resistance, which accompanies type 2 diabetes, increases how often you urinate and expel magnesium.
Keeping your body’s levels of magnesium where they should be is crucial for muscle function, energy production, bone health, proper heart rhythm, immune health, and nervous system function.
Honorable Mention: Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is another vitamin that tends to be lacking in up to 15% of our population. Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that helps your body keep your nerve cells and blood cells healthy. It also helps your body make DNA, the genetic material in all of your cells.
Your body does not make vitamin B12 on its own, so you must consume it through food or drinks that contain it. Animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs as well as fortified cereals and breads contain B12.
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause physical, neurological, and psychological symptoms.
Although certain factors like age, underlying health conditions, and even medications can lead to vitamin deficiencies, our genes play a part as well.
The Role of Genes in Vitamin Deficiencies
Genes are made up of DNA and are the basic physical and functional units of heredity in your body. Each human has between 20,000 and 25,000 genes, and surprisingly, most genes are the same in all people. However, a small number of genes are slightly different in each person, and these differences lead to each person’s unique physical appearance.
Another difference in genes between humans occurs when genetic mutations are present. A genetic mutation is a change in a sequence of your DNA.
Genetic mutations happen during cell division. When your cells divide, the information in the cell is copied “word for word”, but errors can occur and when the information is not copied exactly, a genetic mutation is a result. Genetic mutations can affect the way your body processes nutrients, thus leading to vitamin deficiencies when mutations are present.
Genetic mutations are common, in fact, 44% of the world’s population has a genetic mutation that makes it difficult for them to create enough of the 5-MTHFR gene. This gene controls the body’s methylation cycle, which is responsible for converting raw nutrients into usable forms for the body to function properly.
The methylation cycle is imperative for everything from detoxification to energy production, hormone balance, and maintaining proper nervous system and immune system function. The cycle relies on five genes to make the process work correctly, and if one of those five genes has a mutation, your body will not function properly.
What do you do to make sure your body doesn’t have a genetic mutation that is standing in the way of your optimal wellness? Take a genetic test! But not just any genetic test, a 10X Health Genetic Test.
Diagnosing & Addressing Vitamin Deficiencies
The only accurate way to find out if any genetic mutations leading to vitamin deficiencies exist within your body is through a genetic test. A genetic test could also be thought of as a vitamin deficiency test because it uncovers vitamin deficiencies.
Everything you put in your body needs to be converted to a usable form by the genes in your body. If your body can’t convert something, you’re left with a vitamin deficiency. If vitamin deficiencies are left untreated, they will accumulate and may increase the risk of certain medical conditions and diseases.
The good news is that diagnosing a vitamin deficiency is easy with the 10X Health genetic test. It is a simple comprehensive test that provides you with the most complete picture of your current well-being. It supplies information about exactly how your genes are functioning, so our team can analyze areas for improvement and produce a roadmap for you to correct any deficiencies.
The testing process is simple. 10X Health sends you an at-home testing kit with instructions on how to take a sample with the provided cotton swab. You send us back the swab, and our experts analyze the test results of the gene test and provide you with a comprehensive report, along with recommendations based on what your genes reveal.
Your genetic make-up will establish your vitamin levels and uncover any vitamin deficiencies that may exist in your body. Uncovering these deficiencies and having the opportunity to reverse them could potentially be very beneficial to your overall wellness.
Unlocking Optimal Wellness
Vitamin deficiencies can lead to an increased risk of developing many medical conditions and diseases, some of which are life-threatening. Identifying these deficiencies through 10X Health’s genetic test gives you the opportunity to correct them. Correcting any vitamin deficiencies that exist within your body gives you the keys to optimizing your wellness.
10X Health will provide you with a course of action to correct any deficiencies found in your body. Suggested lifestyle changes, as well as a plan for supplementation will not only be provided to you but can also be reviewed 1-on-1 with one of our experts if you sign up for it. Any questions you have will be answered and 10X Health can be available to you throughout your wellness journey.
Achieving your optimal well-being is possible. Order 10X Health’s genetic test and take the next step in helping your body function properly.
Want to know more about vitamin deficiencies, how they can impact your wellness, and how to correct them? Contact 10X Health today!