Vitamin deficiencies can do more than leave you feeling ill; they can also impact your future health. Although eating from the five food groups regularly is usually enough to reduce the risk of becoming vitamin-deficient, sometimes this is not enough. Some health conditions can cause poor vitamin absorption, as well as the use of certain medications. Getting tested for a deficiency is the only way to know for sure that you are vitamin-deficient.
Monitor yourself for symptoms of vitamin deficiency. These often include shortness of breath, weakness, being ill more than usual, unusual sensitivity to cold, mood swings, hair loss, pale fingernails and pale eyelids.
Assess your lifestyle. People who do not eat healthy foods, who take certain medications or suffer from medical conditions such as anorexia or bulimia might be malnourished. Malnutrition can cause vitamin deficiencies and symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue and weight loss. PubMed says you can be malnourished even if you are deficient in just one vitamin.
Get a nutritional assessment, which is a set of screening questions used to establish whether you are likely to have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. This questionnaire will outline changes in weight, activity and food consumption. A nutritional assessment can be performed by a doctor, nutritionist or can be done online.
Have a hair analysis done. Properly called a hair tissue mineral analysis, this test consists of taking a hair from your head and thoroughly checking for signs of mineral deficiency or metal exposure. The use of hair ensures accuracy because hair tissues change slowly. This means if you eat a steak, iron levels will not rise rapidly in your hair as it will in your blood, so you will get a more accurate reading.
Get a blood test from your physician. A blood test can be helpful in uncovering signs of vitamin or mineral deficiencies, especially with iron levels. If you have symptoms of iron deficiency anemia -- weakness, pallor or sensitivity to cold -- your doctor might test your blood to get a blood count. A low red blood cell count with no other health condition present might indicate low iron levels.
Prevent vitamin or mineral deficiencies by eating a variety of foods from the five food groups and drinking plenty of water. If this is not possible, discuss with your physician about beginning multivitamins. Complete multivitamins contain all of the essential minerals and vitamins needed to sustain life and optimize health.
If you are experiencing unexplained changes in mood, skin discoloration, shortness of breath or unexplained weakness, see a physician. These symptoms might be linked to health conditions other than vitamin deficiencies and can be potentially life threatening.