9 of the most common vitamin deficiencies and how to prevent them

Farion_O/ShutterstockVitamin deficiencies can be supplemented.
  • There are a handful of common vitamin deficiencies.
  • These deficiencies can be supplemented with vitamins and foods.
  • We spoke to Dr. Clare Morrison to learn more about common vitamin deficiencies.

You may exercise regularly and try to eat a well-balanced diet, but it’s still safe to say that some essential vitamins and minerals may be lacking in your diet, especially since deficiencies are more common than you think.

To keep a watchful eye on all those potential deficiencies you may have no clue about, we spoke to some experts about some of the deficiencies (we’re looking at you vitamin D) you’ll definitely want to ask your doctor about next time you schedule a blood draw.

Below we break down the most common deficiencies and offer some suggestions on how to supplement these vitamins into your diet via food and supplements.

Iron deficiencies are common in pregnant and menstruating people.

mell razak/iStockIron helps form red blood cells.

“Iron is essential for the formation of red blood cells, and is a very common deficiency in pregnant and menstruating women,” said Dr. Clare Morrison of MedExpress. “A lack of this essential mineral causes iron deficiency anemia, which is associated with fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, and palpitations,” she explained.

If you are looking to obtain more iron in your diet, she suggested eating foods such as red meat, sardines, egg yolks, beans, and lentils.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause weakness and depression.

Lemer Vadim/ ShutterstockVitamin D can be supplemented by some foods.

“Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include weakness, osteoporosis, fractures, poor immune function, and depression,” said Dr. Morrison. To obtain more vitamin D in your diet, she advised consuming sources of vitamin D including cod liver oil, oily fish (salmon and mackerel), egg yolks, and mushrooms.

Vitamin B12 helps create a healthy immune system.

BlacKCatPRO/ShutterstockEggs have a lot of B12.

This vitamin is essential for the formation of red blood cells and for a healthy immune system, Dr. Morrison explained. To make sure you have enough vitamin B12 in your diet, she recommended eating foods such as meat, liver, shellfish, eggs, and milk.

Magnesium relaxes muscles.

“Magnesium is a natural relaxer of the muscles and nerves,” Dr. Morrison told INSIDER.

A lack of magnesium can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, muscle cramps, restless legs, fatigue, fibromyalgia, hypertension, and stroke, she explained. Good sources of magnesium include seafood, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, grains, nuts, and chocolate, she said.

Folate is important in cell reproduction.

ShutterstockLeafy greens have folate.

“Folate is essential for the formation of new cells and also helps regulate the concentration of an amino acid called homocysteine,” Dr. Morrison explained. To bring more folate into your diet, she recommended eating leafy green salads, eggs, chickpeas, beans, and lentils.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency is pretty common.

dualstock/iStockSore throats are a sign of vitamin B2 deficiency.

“A vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency is more common than you think,” said Dr. Melynda Barnes, MD, associate clinical director at Ro. Signs of riboflavin deficiency include a sore throat, tongue and mouth inflammation and soreness, and dry cracked lips, she explained. If you think you have a riboflavin deficiency, she suggested eating foods such as milk, eggs, meat, fish, green vegetables, yeast, and fortified cereals and bread.

Vitamin K2 is very important for women over 40.

ShutterstockVitamin K2 is important for bone health.

“Vitamin K2 (also known as menaquinone) is needed for females over 40 years of age,” said Dr. Warren Willey, osteopathic medicine practitioner and author of “Obtainable: Enjoy the Body and Energy You’ve Always Wanted.”

High stress and hormones can be very detrimental to bone health, he explained, and while he sees younger people at risk for a deficiency with this vitamin, he explained that most osteopenia and osteoporosis cases occur in women over the age of 40.

You should have three servings of dairy products to stop a calcium deficiency.

ShutterstockCalcium is important for nerves, bones, and organs.

“Calcium is an essential mineral which helps in the development of healthy nerves, bones, and organs,” said chiropractic Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS. Three servings of dairy products a day can offer the recommended calcium you need, he suggested.

Potassium aids in cardiac function.

“Potassium is essential in cardiac pump function, nerve signalling, blood pressure regulation, and fluid balance,” said Jody Bergeron RN, BSN, MS, CEN, critical care nurse for Cape Cod Healthcare. Sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, halibut, pistachios, lentils, white beans, and bananas, she explained.

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