Last update: June 25, 2024

5 minute read

6 Signs You Have a Vitamin Deficiency

Spot early signs of vitamin deficiency like brittle nails and hair loss. Learn what these symptoms mean and how to address them effectively for better health.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Jacquie Leone, NMD, HN

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Have you noticed changes in your body like brittle nails or hair loss? These could be signs you have a vitamin deficiency. Knowing what to look for is the first step in addressing these health issues. You'll discover common symptoms that may indicate a deficiency, what they mean, and how to get back on track toward a healthier you.

Key takeaways

  • Brittle nails and hair loss could mean you need more biotin or iron
  • Adding a variety of nutrient-rich foods and considering personalized supplements might counteract deficiencies
  • Assessing your symptoms and addressing vitamin deficiencies early are key to staying healthy

    What are the signs of vitamin deficiency?

    Vitamin deficiencies may sneak up quietly but can have big consequences on your health. Your body signals, in the form of symptoms, when something is wrong. Catching these signs early is important to keep your body working at its best.

    1. Brittle hair and nails

    If your hair and nails are easily breakable, it could mean you're low on biotin, also called vitamin B7. Even though biotin deficiencies are rare, it's important to treat them because biotin helps turn food into energy.

    You can also boost your biotin by eating foods like organ meats and egg yolks. Another option is a biotin supplement.

    Taking around 30 micrograms of this supplement daily can help strengthen your hair and nails. Getting enough biotin is a good move for your overall health and energy.

    2. Mouth ulcers

    If you get mouth sores, it could mean you need more B vitamins and iron. Eating foods like whole grains and beans can help with iron, and poultry and fish are good for riboflavin and pyridoxine. Adding these vitamins back into your diet might help prevent mouth sores and keep your oral health in check.

    3. Bleeding gums

    Vitamin C does not just help your immune system—it also helps protect against bleeding gums. Since your body doesn't make vitamin C naturally, getting it from your food is important. Eat at least 2 fruits and 3 to 4 servings of veggies daily to keep your mouth healthy and prevent gum disease.

    4. Poor night vision

    If you have trouble seeing in the dark or notice white growths in your eyes, it might mean you need more vitamin A. To help with this, try eating yellow-orange veggies because they're full of vitamin A.

    You can also have fish and dairy to keep your night vision from worsening. But be careful not to take too much vitamin A from supplements—it can be harmful.

    VitaRx Tip

    It's best to keep a balance and get enough vitamin A from food without taking too much. You should also speak with your doctor about any changes in your vision.

    5. Scaly patches and dandruff

    If you're dealing with flakey skin and scalp, it could be a sign of vitamin deficiency. Ensuring you get enough zinc, niacin (vitamin B3), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is important for fighting seborrheic dermatitis.

    Severe Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to seborrheic dermatitis. Eating foods with these nutrients, like nuts, seeds, and whole grains, can help keep your skin healthy and reduce flaky symptoms.

    6. Hair loss

    Losing hair can happen if your body needs more nutrients, especially iron, from your food. Iron is crucial for keeping your hair follicles healthy.

    Eating foods with lots of iron or taking iron supplements might help reduce hair loss. Many people go through hair loss, with about half of adults experiencing it by the time they turn 50. So, if you're experiencing this, know that you're not the only one.

    Hair loss can also be a sign of potential biotin, B3, selenium, zinc, protein, and fat-soluble vitamin deficiency (Vitamins A, E, and D specifically).

    Support hair loss with a balanced diet

    Because hair loss is multifaceted and can mean many different nutrient deficiencies, eating a dynamic mix of nutrient-dense foods like organic meats, colorful fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds is important.

    How can I address these vitamin deficiencies?

    Identifying signs is one thing, but taking proper steps is another. Here’s how you can approach a potential nutrient deficiency:

    • Include foods rich in the vitamins you’re missing.
    • Talk to a healthcare professional if you have symptoms that won’t go away.
    • Try personalized daily vitamin packs for a tailored nutrient boost.

    Dos and don'ts of managing vitamin deficiency

    When managing a vitamin deficiency, it's essential to take a balanced approach. Here's a straightforward guide on what to do and what to avoid to manage your vitamin intake for the best health.


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      Include a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

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      Monitor your vitamin intake with a diary.

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      Consult healthcare professionals regularly.

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      Consider taking personalized supplements.


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      Ignore ongoing symptoms.

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      Solely rely on supplements without medical advice

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      Take unregulated high doses of vitamins

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      Exclude whole food groups without a valid reason

    Advantages and disadvantages of managing vitamin deficiency

    A vitamin deficiency is treatable, but necessary to treat quickly. Understanding the details helps you make smart choices that are good for your health. Let's look at some of the advantages and potential disadvantages.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about vitamin deficiencies.

    Final thoughts

    When it comes to a vitamin deficiency, it's important to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Knowing what signs to watch for and how to fix it can help you support your health journey.

    Sources and references


    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

     Dr. Jacquie Leone avatar

    Dr. Leone holds a BA in Psychology, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and board certification in holistic nutrition. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Leone has developed and currently teaches science and nutrition courses for a nationally accredited institution. She specializes in chronic illness, gastrointestinal dysregulation, inflammatory conditions, and mental health. Her unique approach combines the wisdom of Eastern medicine with the technology and science of Western medicine, offering an integrative approach heavily focused on functional medicine.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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