According to a recent CDC report on diet and nutrition, 8.1% of Americans suffer from inadequate levels of vitamin D, making it the most common deficiency in the U.S. That's a staggering 25.7 million individuals. As such, it's not surprising that there's been a ton of buzz about the epidemic and how to manage it. But what about the lesser-known vitamin and mineral deficiencies?
That's why we were relieved to see this informative article from Prevention pointing out the signs of a B12 deficiency. Ahead, we're diving into the two most common symptoms that may indicate an insufficient amount of a B12, as well as two less frequently highlighted deficiencies: vitamin K and magnesium. Scroll through for the full details as well as the best foods to eat for each for a healthier and happier lifestyle.
The Symptoms: Fatigue and Anxiety
Prevention explains that fatigue—despite sufficient sleep—is the primary sign of insufficient B12. Aside from being abnormally sleepy, your muscles will be weak and tired. Registered dietitian Angela Grassi explains that a B12 deficiency can also result in mood swings or increased emotional sensitivity, possibly even leading to clinical depression or anxiety. This is because "B12 is involved in the synthesis of brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, that help regulate mood." So if you notice yourself bursting into tears for no reason or suddenly feeling super anxious when you normally wouldn't, B12 may part of the solution.
B12-rich foods: Atlantic mackerel, sardines, wild-caught salmon, feta cheese, grass-fed beef, and eggs.
The Symptoms: Loss of Appetite and Nausea
Technically, magnesium is a mineral, but it's essential in the production of a lot of other nutrients and minerals like calcium and vitamin D. As explained by the National Institutes of Health, magnesium is super important for converting food into energy as well as healthy metabolic function and keeping our bones and nerves strong. Magnesium deficiencies aren't super common since our bodies regulate normal levels on their own, but some underlying causes are hormonal imbalance, excessive alcohol consumption, Crohn's disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Magnesium-rich foods: spinach, yogurt, chard, pumpkin seeds, black beans, avocado, and figs.
The Symptoms: Excessive Bleeding and Bruising
If you've been getting a lot of nosebleeds, bleeding from your gums every time you brush your teeth, and/or having excessively heavy periods, you could have a vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K is essential for healthy bones and blood clotting, so if your body isn't producing enough of it on its own or you aren't eating a healthy, balanced diet, then this could be because vitamin K "activates the protein that is responsible for forming clots within the blood," according to Josh Axe, MD. As such, it's really important for anyone with cardiovascular health issues and can lead to more dangerous conditions down the road.
Vitamin K–rich foods: kale, fermented soy, scallions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, prunes, and cucumbers.
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Have you suffered from any of these nutrient deficiencies? Feel free to share your experiences or best tips for managing these symptoms in the comment section below.
The most reliable way to determine whether or not you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency is by getting a blood test. If your symptoms don't improve, consider consulting a medical professional.