Vitamin deficiency can leave you feeling tired, under the weather and generally run down. But often a simple reboot of your diet — injecting a shot of vitamins in a variety of foods — will have you firing on all engines in no time. Today, Mind+Body looks at the most common vitamin deficiencies and great ways to get your balance back.


“A telltale sign if you are low in iron is fatigue, ” says Debra Ashton, naturopath and secretary of the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association. “Women may also suffer with heavy periods.” Ms Ashton says there are also physical signs which may indicate an iron deficiency, including being pale under the lower eyelids, if the white part of the eye has a blue tinge (sclera), a pale complexion, brittle nails and hair loss.

“An iron deficiency could be an indicator of something wrong with a person’s digestive system, ” Ms Aston adds. She says taking vitamin C is also important to increase iron absorption.


“People with a vitamin D deficiency may experience a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, diarrhoea, hormone imbalance or nervousness, ” Ms Ashton says.

If you spend most of your time indoors, be aware of deficiency signs. Ms Ashton says food sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, butter, egg yolk and milk but the best source of vitamin D is sunlight.

She says everyone should aim for 20 minutes of sunlight exposure throughout the day without sunscreen.


“If you are not coping with stress as well as you normally do, this can be a sign that you need more B vitamins, ” Ms Ashton says. She says other symptoms of deficiency may include dermatitis, mouth ulcers, dandruff, fatigue, anaemia, numbness in extremities, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, PMS, headaches and burning feet.

There are numerous B vitamins — each with their own therapeutic level — so if you are lacking in them, Ms Ashton recommends taking a B vitamin complex rather than a single vitamin.


It is best to go to your health practitioner to confirm if you are deficient in a vitamin and ask if you require supplements. However, Maria Packard, accredited practising dietitian and spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says eating a variety of healthy foods each day will provide enough vitamins for most people (with the exception of folate supplements (vitamin B9) which are recommended for women considering pregnancy).


Dietitian Maria Packard gives the run-down on where to find important vitamins. Iron (haem) red meat, offal (liver, kidney).

Iron (non-haem) - lentils, dried beans, iron-fortified breakfast cereal.

Vitamin D - small amounts in fish, eggs, UV-irradiated mushrooms, vitamin D fortified milk/margarine.

Vitamin C - citrus fruits, mangoes, tomatoes, cabbage, capsicum, spinach, broccoli, kidney, liver.

Vitamin B1 - wholegrains, seed, legumes.

Vitamin B2 - milk, yoghurt, wholegrains, egg white, leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin B3 - meat, fish, poultry, eggs, wholegrains, nuts.

Vitamin B5 - liver, meat, milk, kidneys, eggs.

Vitamin B6 - cereal grains, legumes, green and leafy vegetables, fish, nuts.

Vitamin B7 - cauliflower, egg yolk, peanuts, chicken.

Vitamin B9 - (folic acid) green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, liver, poultry, eggs.

Vitamin B12 - liver, meat, milk, cheese, eggs.


If you think you may be vitamin deficient, see your doctor for an assessment. This may also involve a blood test for vitamin D and iron deficiencies. A naturopath can test for most other vitamin deficiencies with a hair-mineral analysis, a saliva test or by assessing the signs and symptoms a person is displaying.


© The West Australian

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