Vitamin Deficiency: Symptoms & Signs
Vitamins are needed in the body for many reasons. It helps the body function and also to do specific tasks such as protect cells, regulate cell and tissue growth, and produce energy. So what happens when we don't get the proper amount of vitamins we need? Problems start to occur. Luckily there are ways to treat vitamin deficiency but first, let me tell you my story.
First of all, I don't know how many months I was deficient but it was definitely a while. I always seemed to be tired and weak, (which I just mistook for my laziness) and when I would walk up the stairs at school I would be practically heavily breathing ( which I thought was just because I was out of shape.) Days went by. I even ran a 4k, or more like walked-ran it. I could sprint my heart out for a good 5 seconds and then I would get so out of breath I would have to stop (I also used the "I'm really out of shape" excuse). Besides physical problems, I suffered slight mental issues too. I would get really angry at my parents and say things I didn't mean. I would even on occasion throw things (just not at them). I didn't really know or care what had brought on this erratic behavior, but my parents started getting concerned. I was starting to develop depression-like symptoms. I didn't feel happy like I used to. I felt like my future was doomed. Thankfully, I had a doctor appointment coming up. My mom thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring up all of my behavior problems. Depression runs on my moms side of the family, so this is another reason why she was so concerned. When I finally went in to the doctor and after my mom had revealed my weird behavior, he first made me take a depression test. My results, according to how I had ranked the numbers corresponding with the questions, was that I had a slight form of depression. My doctor didn't seem convinced enough though, so he ordered that I have a blood test for iron that day. It was actually kind of funny how naive I was because before I got my blood drawn I was like "There's no way it has to do with my iron levels." When we got the results back, my hemoglobin levels were under the average. I, being my naive self, was shocked but also a little relieved that I could blame my problems on something.
Later on in the week, I got tested for vitamin D. When the results came back, let's just say they were even more shocking to me than the iron. My doctor told me that I had the LOWEST amount of vitamin D in me he has ever seen in his 19 years of being a doctor. Being a Minnesotan, I wasn't really surprised at my lack of vitamin D, but definitely a little surprised at the fact that I was the lowest he had ever seen! A typical normal level of vitamin D would be around 40-50 ng/ml and mine was at a 9. I was severely deficient. Being this deficient can lead to low blood calcium levels and softening in the bones. You can also have more difficulty moving and less strength in the muscles, which is what I suffered from. So finally after we figured all this out, I immediately started taking iron and vitamin D pills. My dosage for iron was bout 65 mg and I had to take 3000 IU of vitamin D.
That was almost a year ago. Now I just take a daily multi-vitamin to keep my levels up and make sure to eat enough for every meal which is something I wasn't doing before ( for example I would skip breakfast or not pack much for my school lunch because of time). The moral of my story is to never blame muscle weakness or lack of energy on something like being out of shape without looking into it first. Now, on to how to spot vitamin deficiency.
- Muscle aches/weakness
- Pale skin/ sparse or thin hair
- memory loss
- A numbness in the legs, hands, or feet
- memory loss/hallucinations
- personality changes
The symptoms listed above can be a result of a number of vitamin deficiencies. If you have been frequently experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to check in with your doctor!