Nutrition

Vitamin Deficiencies And How To Correct Them: Know The Basics

Vitamin deficiencies are common; in this article, we will be exploring how to detect common vitamin deficiencies and how to correct them.

34% of Sri Lankan children between six months and five years suffer from iron deficiency.  Vitamin deficiency is the leading cause of childhood blindness in Sri Lanka.

Have you ever heard about “Hidden Hunger”?

The state of Hidden hunger is not visible, also not felt until it becomes dangerous. It is a chronic lack of micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals) when the quality of foods you eat does not meet up to the required level.

When plants suffer from nutrient deficiencies, we supply fertilizer or mulch to fix the condition. Similarly, people also suffer from nutrient deficiencies and they too need to mulch. Foods with plenty of micronutrients are all we need.

Vitamins and Minerals are considered micronutrients. We can easily get adequate amounts of micronutrient from locally available fruits and vegetables.

So, how do we know that, whether we are getting enough amount of certain nutrients?

Here are five key nutrients needed in our daily diet and plays a major role:

Identifying and learning major vitamin deficiencies and how to correct them can save a lot of trouble in the long term. On the plus side, you get to maintain good health.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed for several body functions. Mainly it is responsible for the metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrate and the formation of red blood cells. It aids in brain development, red blood cell production and immune system development. The most important thing is that our body cannot synthesize this vitamin and it is a must to obtain them from foods or supplements. It is naturally available in many foods.

Vitamin B6 rich foods

Foods such as poultry (chicken or turkey), pork, fish, bread, wholegrain cereals, eggs, most vegetables, soya beans, milk, and potatoes are rich in Vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 deficiencies and how to correct it

Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with lowering immune system functions, anaemic conditions because it is needed for red blood cell production.  (anemia courses when red blood cells production lowered below the optimum level) Also, there may be skin problems like rashes, dandruff, scaly patches.  Having enough amounts of Vitamin B6 rich foods can solve-out this problem easily.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also a water-soluble vitamin, that the body cannot make on its own. So, it is needed to get from out via food or dietary supplements. Vitamin B12 is needed for red blood cell production, nerve system development and release energy from food.

Vitamin B12 rich foods

This vitamin is naturally found in animal foods such as meat, dairy products, eggs, and fish like salmon, tuna, clamps.

Vitamin B12 deficiencies and how to correct it

Vitamin B12 deficiency may course fatigue, muscle weakness, nerve damage, and anemic conditions.  It can be easily corrected by having Vitamin B12 rich foods. However, vegans/vegetarians are more susceptible to Vitamin B12 deficiency since plants don’t contain Vitamin B12. Such people need to take Vitamin B12 supplements.

Vitamin C

This is a water-soluble vitamin and it helps to form blood vessels, cartilage, and muscles. Apart from that Vitamin C promotes healing wounds, maintaining healthy skin and protecting the body from free radicals. (free radicals are directly connected to develop cancers and heart diseases)

Vitamin C rich foods

Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange are rich sources of Vitamin C. Fruits like berries, pineapples and vegetables like spinach, bell pepper, cabbage, potatoes are rich in Vitamin C.

Vitamin C deficiencies and how to correct it

Lack of Vitamin C can cause bleeding from gums and slow healing of wounds. It can be corrected easily by incorporating Vitamin C rich foods to the diet or by having Vitamin C supplements.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, that is needed to absorb calcium from foods and food supplements. So, it is responsible for building and maintaining healthy bones.

Vitamin D rich foods

Vitamin D rich foods are fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and food products enriched with Vitamin D. Apart from that exposure to natural sunlight may induce the production of Vitamin D naturally in the skin.

Vitamin D deficiencies and how to correct it

This deficiency may cause bone pain, muscle pain, and more infections. People who get a very low amount of vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones. This condition is known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. This can be corrected by incorporating more Vitamin D rich foods to the diet.

Iron

Iron is a mineral needed for several body functions. It is an important component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. Iron plays a role in metabolism as it is also a component of certain enzymes and proteins.

Iron-rich foods

Animal-based foods like lean red meat, poultry, and seafood are rich sources of iron. Plant-based foods like lentils, spinach, beans, and fortified cereals are also rich in iron.

Iron deficiencies and how to correct it

Anemia is the major course of iron deficiency. It occurs when red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood lowers beyond the normal level. As mentioned above iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin and iron deficiency may impair the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. So, symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, headaches, pale skin, and cold hands and feet.

You can get an adequate amount of micronutrients from a balanced diet and it is the safest and most effective way. As an example, vegans or vegetarians are susceptible to Vitamin B12 deficiency while people who do not get much exposure to sunlight, get Vitamin D deficiencies.

Pregnant women and women with high bleeding during menstruation may get iron deficiencies. If you are one of them, then you need to get a nutritional supplement under the supervision of a doctor or any other specialist.

Diet including a variety of foods is having each nutrient needed per day. It will keep you away from various non-communicable diseases and deficiency conditions.

Please share if you have helpful tips to identify vitamin deficiencies and how to correct them in the comment section below.

You may also want to read:

  1. Antibiotics Risks During Pregnancy: Are You Aware?
  2. Fat – Basics You Need To Know
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Dewni Jayasuriya

Dewni Jayasuriya is a Nutritionist. She holds a Special degree, Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Nutrition from the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka. She is interested in dietary counseling, diet planning and is continually on the lookout for trends in modern Food Science and Technology.

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