Vitamin deficiencies can do more than merely leaving you feeling unwell; they may also influence your future health. Although eating a balanced diet is usually considered sufficient to reduce the risk of becoming vitamin-deficient, more often than not, this is not enough. This is because very few of us are actually living a balanced life. In addition, some health conditions can cause poor vitamin absorption, as well as the use of certain drugs. Getting tested for a deficiency is the only way to identify for sure that you are vitamin-deficient.
Monitor yourself for symptoms of vitamin deficiency. These frequently include shortness of breath, weakness, being ill more than usual, unusual sensitivity to changing temperature, mood swings, hair loss, pale fingernails and pale eyelids.
Evaluate your lifestyle. People who do not eat healthy foods, who take certain medications or suffer from medical conditions such as anorexia or bulimia are likely to be malnourished. Malnutrition can cause vitamin deficiencies and symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue and weight loss. You can be malnourished even if you are deficient in just one vitamin.
Get a nutritional assessment. This 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 gradually. 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 doctor. A blood test can be helpful in uncovering signs of vitamin or mineral deficiencies, especially with iron, magnesium and selenium levels. If you have symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia -- weakness, pallor or sensitivity to cold -- your doctor might test your blood to get a red blood cell count. A low count with no other health condition present might indicate low iron levels.
If you are experiencing unexplained changes in mood, skin discoloration, shortness of breath or unexplained weakness, see a doctor. These symptoms might be linked to health conditions other than vitamin deficiencies and can be potentially life threatening.
Prevent vitamin or mineral deficiencies by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and taking supplements.