How to Tell if You’re Low in a Vitamin or Mineral
Severe nutritional deficiency is not something that everybody sees all the time. The symptoms of extreme malnutrition are intense and easier to spot. Milder deficiencies are less obvious. Many of you may have these less-than-optimal levels of some vitamins and minerals.
Below I list a few vitamins and minerals and some of the symptoms you can get when you don’t have an ideal amount of them. Some of these nutrients can be tested for. For other nutrients, I usually rely on symptoms rather than testing.
Symptoms of sub-optimal levels: PMS, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, chest tightness, burnout, insomnia, headaches, poor memory, heart palpitations, muscle cramps or twitches, restless leg syndrome.
Testing your levels: Most readily available testing (e.g. blood and hair tests) are not reliable as they do not reflect the levels of magnesium stored in your body.
Symptoms of sub-optimal levels: Poor healing of cuts and wounds, weak immune system, hair loss, infertility, acne.
Testing your levels: Blood, urine, hair, saliva and taste tests are not reliable unless deficiency is extreme.
Symptoms of sub-optimal levels: Fatigue, palpitations, feeling cold, shortness of breath, heavy periods, weakness, depression, anxiety, anemia, dizziness, inability to concentrate, hair loss, restless legs, getting sick often, indigestion.
Testing your levels: a panel of blood tests can be easily done and is reliable.
Symptoms of sub-optimal levels: Decreased bone density, muscle weakness, pain, fatigue, depression, asthma, eczema, thyroid disfunction, infertility.
Testing your levels: Blood tests are reliable. Sometimes the test fee is covered by OHIP when done by your family doctor or specialist but most of the time it is not covered.
Symptoms of sub-optimal levels: neuropathy, fatigue, memory issues, anemia, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness on standing.
Testing your levels: Blood tests are reliable.
Symptoms of sub-optimal levels: depression, irritability, nerve and muscle pain or discomfort, fatigue, weakness, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, shortness of breath, anemia.
Testing your levels: Blood or urine tests are possible. For some of the B vitamins, many types of testing are not reliable or necessary. I will often simply recommend B-vitamins and monitor symptoms.
This is certainly not a complete list but it goes over some common symptoms. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of nutrient deficiencies have similar symptoms. It may seem confusing at first. Sitting down with a naturopath to go over your full health history can help with sorting what nutrition support is best for you. If you would like a nutritional assessment, go ahead and book an appointment or free 15-minute consult.
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected].