While getting the proper amount of nutrients we need can be a chore day in and day out, making sure that we eat healthily is key to preventing mild to potentially fatal health problems. Although the occasional slip up and indulgence won't seriously affect your health, prolonged periods of vitamin deficiencies can cause irreversible damage to your health.
Consult the table below for the role of each vitamin and mineral, along with the associated health problems that can result from a deficiency of that particular nutrient.
Type of Nutrient
Role of Nutrient
Associated Deficiency Diseases
Vitamin A is essential to bone, eye and liver health.
Reproductive problems, infertility, certain types of cancer, weakened immune system
B12 promotes metabolism, as well as blood and overall nerve system health.
Nerve damage, anemia, blood clotting disorders
Vitamin C is important to the immune system and general skin health.
Anemia, depression, arthritis, scurvy, ulcers, weakened immune system
Calcium is one of the main nutrients essential to bone health.
Osteoporosis, loss of teeth
Vitamin D not only promotes skin and liver health, but it is also essential to ensuring that the body properly absorbs and uses calcium.
Rickets, general fatigue, muscle weakness
Vitamin E is crucial to healthy cell reproduction.
Certain types of cancers, skin problems, wrinkles
Iron is key to maintaining overall blood health.
Anemia, muscle weakness, general fatigue
Vitamin K ensures that the blood clots after injury.
Excessive bleeding, blood clotting disorders
Magnesium is key to promoting bone health, as well as to producing healthy cholesterol and proteins.
Asthma, general fatigue, diabetes, attention deficit disorder (ADD)
Zinc ensures blood health, proper calcium absorption by the body and the production of reproductive hormones.
Bone weakness, infertility, hair loss, slowed growth and development
Keep in mind that the above table lists the more long-term, chronic effects of various types of vitamin deficiencies. Short-term symptoms of vitamin deficiencies tend to be general, making them easy to confuse with a variety of other health problems.
Some symptoms of short-term vitamin or mineral deficiencies include:
If you think you are starting to experience any symptoms related to vitamin deficiencies, see your doctor immediately for a thorough exam and a proper diagnosis. Early diagnosis is key to getting immediate treatment and warding off the potentially irreversible effects of vitamin deficiencies.
Doctors generally start the diagnostic process of vitamin deficiencies by asking you a series of questions, including:
Once your doctor has a thorough picture of your current state of health, he will likely perform blood and/or urine tests to check the levels of various nutrients in your body. The results of these tests are usually enough to determine whether or not you suffer from a vitamin deficiency.
As soon as you have been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency, your doctor will lay out your treatment options to re-establish your health. Keep in mind that your precise course of treatment will depend on your current state of health, the length of the deficiency and the intensity of your symptoms.
While some vitamin deficiencies can be treated by prescribing particular multivitamins and dietary supplements, others will also call for the symptoms (i.e. anemia, depression, etc.) to be treated until they subside enough to allow the patient to continue with his daily life.
Durtschi, Alisha (March 15, 2000). Deficiency Diseases and Good Nutrition. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from the Walton Feed Web site: http://waltonfeed.com/self/ health/vit-min/index.html.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions