You’re feeling tired
While scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency, may make you think of pre-18th-century sailors, inadequate intake of the immunity-supporting nutrient is seen in specific groups, including smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke. In fact, smokers have a more than three-fold greater risk of vitamin C deficiency, per research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Feeling tired all the time and irritability are symptoms that you may have dipping vitamin C levels—don’t ignore these other signs you might have a vitamin C deficiency, either.
The fix: Women need 75 mg daily, and men require 90 mg—while smokers need an extra 35 mg daily. Citrus, cantaloupe, kiwi, pineapple, tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers, and broccoli are all excellent sources.
Your thyroid hormone production has dipped
You would only know this for sure via lab work, and low levels might be linked with decreased intake of the mineral iodine. Although rare in the United States, very low iodine levels may reduce production of the thyroid hormone, which could lead to hypothyroidism. Low iodine intake is especially worrisome for pregnant women—it can cause miscarriage and many other problems. Women of childbearing age had iodine levels just above iodine insufficiency, on average, in the CDC report. These subtle signs may indicate a thyroid problem.
The fix: Most adults need 150 mcg daily, while pregnant women need more (220 mcg). If you cook with salt or add any to your food, opt for iodized salt over sea salt and other varieties. Seafood and dairy also contain iodine.
You’ve had several recent fractures
When you have a vitamin deficiency in the mineral calcium, you’re at risk for osteopenia, a condition that causes low bone mass and heightens risk of osteoporosis and bone breaks—don’t miss these signs you’re not getting enough calcium. Bones reach max strength at around age 30—at which point they start to slowly lose calcium. This is why it’s important to take in proper amounts of calcium, alongside weight-bearing activity such as walking and aerobics.
The fix: Men and premenopausal women need 1,000 mg daily, and postmenopausal women require 1,200 mg. The best food sources of calcium include dairy (yogurt, milk, and cheese), some leafy greens (collard greens, turnip greens, and kale), tofu, edamame, and fortified juice. If you choose to take a supplement, divide into two doses and pair each with a meal.
You have cracking at the corners of your mouth
Although not super common, a vitamin deficiency in vitamin B6 can reveal itself through skin conditions—also including scaling on the lips or an inflamed tongue—as well as through depression or confusion. The body’s small supply of the water-soluble vitamin typically lasts several weeks, so deficiency appears once the body is fairly depleted. Some types of oral birth control may affect vitamin B6 status, as can certain corticosteroids and anticonvulsants.
The fix: People up to age 50 need 1.3 mg daily, while older women need 1.5 mg and older men require 1.7 mg. Dietary sources include chickpeas, tuna, salmon, fortified cereal, bananas, and marinara sauce—although deficiencies are typically treated by a doctor with a daily supplement of 50 to 100 mg. Don’t miss more signs of a vitamin deficiency.