Vitamins are a group of substances and micronutrients that our body needs for normal cell function, growth, and development. There are 13 types of different vitamins that your body needs to function well. Even if your body becomes deficient in a single vitamin, it can wreak havoc with your health. They help drive essential processes needed in our everyday life. Vitamins support immunity. They facilitate a healthy metabolism. They give you strong bones. Every major function or process in your body depends on different vitamins. Most vitamins need to come from food because our body either does not produce them or they are produced in little quantities. Vitamin deficiency can lead to numerous problems and therefore, it is essential to get a Vitamin deficiency test done as soon as you experience the symptoms. A vitamin test can tell you what supplements to take or what changes you must make in your food intake to remove the deficiency.
Vitamins are either soluble or dissolvable.They are fat soluble or water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A, Vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K. These vitamins are stored in fatty tissue and liver. Fat-soluble vitamins can remain in the body for days, sometimes even four months. The body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins with the help of dietary fats, through the intestinal tract.
Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and all the B vitamins. They don’t stay in the body for long. They cannot be stored. Consequently, you need a regular supply of water-soluble vitamins rather than fat-soluble vitamins.
The 13 types of main vitamins are described below:
It is fat soluble. It is essential for your eye health. Its deficiency can cause night blindness and keratomalacia. Good sources of vitamin A are cod liver oil, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, butter, eggs, apricots and milk.
Water soluble. It is needed to produce enzymes that break down blood sugar. Its deficiency can cause beriberi syndrome. Good sources of vitamin B are yeast, cereal grains, sunflower seeds, brown rice, asparagus, cauliflower, potatoes, oranges and eggs.
Water soluble. Helps metabolize food and is also instrumental in the growth and development of body cells. Its deficiency can cause inflammation of the lips and fissures in the mouth. Good sources of vitamin B2 are bananas, cottage cheese, milk, yoghurt, eggs and green beans.
Water-soluble. The body cells need it to grow and work correctly. Its deficiency can cause diarrhea, skin damage and intestinal upsets. You can get vitamin B3 from chicken, tuna, milk, eggs, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, lentils, broccoli, carrots and nuts and seeds.
Water-soluble. Needed for producing energy and hormones. Its deficiency gives you that “pins and needles” feeling in your feet. You can get vitamin B5 from whole grains, broccoli, yoghurt and avocados.
Water-soluble. Helps formulate red blood cells. Deficiency may lead to anaemia and peripheral neuropathy. Good sources of vitamin B6 are bananas, squash, chickpeas and nuts.
Water-soluble. It helps body metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It also produces keratin, a structural protein in hair, nails and the skin. Good sources are egg yolk, broccoli, spinach and cheese.
Water-soluble. Essential for making DNA and RNA. Its deficiency can affect the foetus’s nervous system during pregnancy. Good sources of vitamin B9 are leafy vegetables, pees, legumes, some fortified grain products, and sunflower seeds.
Water-soluble. Builds a healthy nervous system. Its deficiency leads to neurological problems and certain types of anaemia. Good sources include poultry, eggs, milk, fortified cereals, fortified soy products and some fortified nutritional yeast.
Water-soluble. Aids in collagen production. Helps in wound healing and bone formation. Strengthens blood vessels and also supports your immune system. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and also acts as an antioxidant. Its deficiency leads to bleeding gums, scurvy, loss of teeth, poor tissue growth and slower wound healing. Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, especially citrus fruits. It is destroyed in vegetables when the vegetables are cooked.
Fat-soluble. Responsible for healthy mineralization of bones. Its deficiency causes rickets, softening of bones and osteomalacia. Good sources of Vitamin D are exposure to UVB rays from the sun (the body produces Vitamin D when exposed to the sun). To an extent you can also get Vitamin D from eggs and mushrooms.
Fat-soluble. Good antioxidant. It prevents oxidative stress – this causes widespread inflammation and other diseases to surface. Its deficiency is rare. Good sources of vitamin E are wheat germ, kiwis, almonds, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and vegetable oils.
Fat-soluble. Needed for blood clotting. Its deficiency leads to excessive bleeding or bleeding diathesis. Good sources of vitamin K are pumpkins, figs, parsley, and leafy green vegetables.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is vitamin deficiency test important?
Vitamins are not just add-ons or supplements that you take just as you wish. They are a vital part of our existence. Vitamins are needed to produce energy from food. They are needed to form red blood cells. They eliminate toxins from our body. Some vitamins help in blood clotting when we get injured; just imagine what would happen if you accidentally cut yourself and the blood never stops. Similarly, Vitamin D keeps your bones strong. Getting a vitamin deficiency test done on time assesses the amount and quality of vitamins in your body and then accordingly you can change your diet or take supplements suggested by your doctor.
What is the process of getting a vitamin deficiency test?
Vitamin deficiencies can be of different types. You may be deficient in one vitamin but not another. Vitamin deficiency depends on the nature of food that you eat because most of the vitamins are derived from our diet, except for Vitamin D – our body uses sunshine to produce it. There are different tests to find different vitamin deficiencies. Based on your symptoms, your doctor may advise you to go for a certain vitamin test. In most of the tests, your blood sample will be needed. Once you fix up an appointment, a phlebotomist will visit you to take a blood sample. After taking the sample, he will submit it to the lab. You can get the results within a couple of days.
What are the symptoms of vitamin deficiency?
Different vitamin deficiencies may have different symptoms. Some of the common vitamin deficiency symptoms are Brittle hair and nails. Swollen lips. Mouth ulcers. Cracks in the corners of the mouth (where the upper and lower lips meet). Bleeding gums. Night blindness. Cloudy vision. Dry eyes. Excessive dandruff. Scaly patches on the scalp. Hair loss. Delayed blood clotting. Slow metabolism. Low red blood cell count. Restless leg syndrome. and various neurological disorders.
Can vitamin deficiency be life-threatening?
Whereas some vitamin deficiencies can lead to serious illnesses that can be life threatening down the line, Vitamin D can pose serious health problems. Studies have shown that people who have Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to develop heart disease and blockages in their coronary arteries. Vitamin D deficiency is also related to hypertension. Hypertension can lead to kidney failure. Similarly, among the aged, Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to many life-threatening health complications. Therefore, it is very important to get a vitamin deficiency test done as early as possible.
Can changes in lifestyle improve vitamin deficiency?
Most of the vitamins are not produced by our body. Even Vitamin D that is mostly produced within our bodies, needs an external influence – UVB rays – to get the process done. Hence, there are definitely many lifestyle changes that can be done to improve vitamin deficiency. Eat a balanced diet that gives you all the necessary vitamins. Spend some time under the sun to generate enough Vitamin D. Get a vitamin deficiency test done and consult a nutritionist to draw a balanced diet plan in case you are suffering from various vitamin deficiencies.