We all have different tastes and preferences when it comes to things such as what we like to eat or how much time we like to spend outdoors. But have you recently asked yourself how your lifestyle and preferences could be affecting your vitamin intake?

Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies need to carry out certain functions and to remain healthy overall. There are at least 13 different types of vitamins that our bodies need that we can’t make on our own. This means that it’s our job to seek out and obtain the vitamins that we need to stay healthy. Unfortunately, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that 74% of the population doesn’t eat the recommended 5 to 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, many Americans are at risk of falling victim to a low nutrient and low vitamin diet. We want to make sure that you’re not one of them.

What is a vitamin deficiency?

“Vitamin deficiency” refers to the lack of a certain kind of vitamin in your body. If a vitamin deficiency goes untreated or unrecognized for a long period of time, you run the risk of developing a deficiency related disease, or an avitaminosis. Different organ systems are affected differently by different vitamin deficiencies, but a couple examples of how your body could be harmed include symptoms like:

  • developing vision problems

  • lacking the energy needed to complete your day to day tasks

  • developing cardiovascular problems

  • experiencing migraines on a regular basis

  • developing brittle bones or other skeletal problems

  • finding yourself at a higher risk for a range of disease related health issues

What causes a vitamin deficiency?

Often vitamin deficiencies are caused by restrictive diets that have cut out a primary source of nutrition that our bodies need to function. There are also other things that can factor into your risk of developing a deficiency, such as over-exercising (especially if you fail to eat a healthy diet). If you take certain medications or suffer from certain diseases or conditions that interfere with your body’s natural ability to absorb certain nutrients, you may be also be at risk of developing a vitamin deficiency.

What are some examples of common vitamin deficiencies?

While any lack of a specific vitamin could lead to a vitamin deficiency, some deficiencies are more common than others. Vitamin Dmagnesiumvitamin B12 and iron are great examples of common vitamin deficiencies that doctors see more than we’d like. Each vitamin can be obtained by increasing their intake through a change in diet (and in vitamin D’s case, by spending 15 minutes outside in the sunshine each day).

What can I do to avoid developing a vitamin deficiency?

The best way to avoid a deficiency is to eat a healthy diet that includes enough of the vitamins that you need every day. One way to do this is to follow the general recommendations for the amounts of a vitamin that you need to stay healthy and avoid nutritional deficiencies. However, it’s important to remember that age, gender, certain medical conditions, over the counter or prescription medications you are taking, your level of activity and other lifestyle factors can all affect your nutritional needs. Any major change in one or more of these areas could affect how much of a vitamin you need to consume to stay healthy.

Because your individual needs may be very different from those general recommendations, your best bet is to talk to a doctor about your diet, daily routines and medical history so you know exactly how much of each vitamin you need. By meeting with and being honest with your doctor, he or she can tell you if you’re at risk of developing a vitamin deficiency, and you can implement a dietary change or even take the necessary supplements that will ensure you stay on the path to a healthy future.

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