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Friday, June 14, 2013

Vitamin Deficiencies; Causes, Signs, and Symptoms

What Causes Vitamin Deficiencies?

According to Right Diagnosis, vitamin deficiencies are caused when you are not able to have the nutrients your body needs to thrive. With Gastroparesis, our diet is strict and we cannot eat certain foods to replenish those vitamins. For me personally, I vomit up almost everything I eat, so I am unable to get the vitamins I need. A lot of GPers are the same way. I am going to list each vitamin deficiency and the signs and symptoms of each.

How to Test for Vitamin Deficiencies and What to Look Out For.

If you suspect or identify with any of the vitamin deficiency symptoms below, please make an appointment with your doctor to be tested. Dr. Oz has a video that you can view by clicking HERE that contains four easy steps to self test for vitamin deficiencies.

According to Fox News, there are five unusual warning signs that you may be vitamin-deficient. The good news: Most are fixable with dietary tweaks. However, if that doesn't work, please make an appointment with your doctor to discuss other options. The warning signs are:

Body Clue No. 1: Cracks at the corners of your mouth.

Body Clue No. 2: A red, scaly rash on your face (and sometimes elsewhere) and hair loss. (For more information on hair loss in relation to vitamin deficiencies, please visit:

Body Clue No. 3: Red or white acne-like bumps, typically on the cheeks, arms, thighs, and butt.

Body Clue No. 4: Tingling, prickling, and numbness in hands, feet, or elsewhere.

Body Clue No. 5: Crazy muscle cramps in the form of stabbing pains in toes, calves, arches of feet, and backs of legs.

Additionally, I am going to walk through each vitamin deficiency so that you know what the signs and symptoms are to watch out for.

Vitamin A Deficiency; What Causes It?

Vitamin A can be deficient due to dietary issues. According to Wikipedia, iron deficiency can affect vitamin A uptake. Excess alcohol consumption can deplete vitamin A, and a stressed liver may be more susceptible to vitamin A toxicity. People who consume large amounts of alcohol should seek medical advice before taking vitamin A supplements. In general, people should also seek medical advice before taking vitamin A supplements if they have any condition associated with fat malabsorption such as pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, tropical sprue & biliary obstruction.

Infection is very draining on vitamin A reserves and this vitamin A deficit leaves the individual more susceptible to infection (Combs, 1991, Wikipedia).

According to Right Diagnosis, other causes for a vitamin A deficiency are:


Inadequate diet


Certain lipid-lowering medications

Vitamin A Deficiency; Signs and Symptoms.

The symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency are:

Reduced night vision

Night blindness

Dry eyes (the inability to produce tears)

Eye inflammation

Corneal inflammation

Rough skin

Dry skin

Vulnerability to respiratory infection

Vulnerability to urinary infection

Growth retardation in children

What Causes a Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Deficiency?

According to article writer, Paul Simms, a vitamin B1 deficiency can occur because of many different causes. The most basic form of thiamine deficiency results simply because the individual does not consume enough of the vitamin in the food sources they eat. Vitamin B1 deficiency can also be caused by a problem absorbing the nutrient in the small intestines. There are several disease states that can cause this, but the most usual cause is over consumption of alcohol, which inhibits vitamin B1 absorption. Because vitamin B1 is necessary for energy production in cells, the most notable symptoms are related to low energy levels. These can be very striking when involving the brain because brain cells require large amounts of energy to function properly, and when functioning improperly, the effects are quite visible and dramatic.

There are three general causes of vitamin B1 deficiency. The first is caused when not enough thiamine is consumed in the foods eaten by the individual. The can be because of poor food choices, or because the food is prepared improperly. It is very easy to accidentally destroy or remove vitamin B1 during cooking and boiling. Diseases that effect the small intestines can also greatly reduce the amount of vitamin B1 that is absorbed from the foods that are eaten. Finally, the most common cause of vitamin B1 deficiency in the western world is the over consumption of alcohol. Alcohol prevents thiamine and many other nutrients from ever being absorbed by the small intestines.

Here is what vitamin B1 does for your body:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Signs and Symptoms.

There are many basic symptoms that are associated with vitamin B1 deficiency. In most cases, these symptoms can be reversed easily if nutritional levels of vitamin B1 are increased or if supplements are given. Most of these symptoms result from the beginning stages of cellular starvation. Simply put, the cells do not have the energy to function any longer. In the brain, these symptoms include depression, irritability and memory loss. In muscle cells, a short term vitamin B1 deficiency will result in muscle fatigue, tenderness and weakness. The peripheral nervous system can also be effected, with symptoms such as pins-and-needles, poor coordination and slowed reflexes.

In more severe and long term cases of vitamin B1 deficiency, a disease called Beriberi will result. This is a severe condition that can lead to death. Symptoms of Beriberi disease caused by vitamin B1 deficiency include extreme weight loss, emotional imbalances (anger,depression),muscle weakness, and pain in the extremities. The individual will also often lose control of the use of arms and legs temporarily. The most dangerous aspect of Beriberi disease is it's effect on the heart. congestive heart failure and death is a real possibility when vitamin B1 deficiency has reached this level of severity.

Another condition that can develop either individually, or in association with Beriberi disease is Wernicke's encephalopathy and/or Korsakoff syndrome. These are severe mental conditions that result in amnesia, impaired sensory perception, mental confusion and loss of control of motor skills. These conditions usually result in the patient being deranged and uncontrollable. When the vitamin B1 deficiency reaches the stages where it causes these symptoms and disorders, much of the damage is no longer reversible. It is also important to note that the major cause of the severe of a case of thiamine deficiency is chronic alcohol abuse.

The symptoms include:


Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)

Mental confusion

Speech difficulties


Weight loss

Difficulty walking (loss of balance and coordination)

Emotional disturbances

Impaired sensory perception

Loss of muscle function or paralysis of the lower legs

Weakness and pain in the limbs

Tingling or loss of feeling (sensation) in hands and feet (numbness)

Periods of irregular heart rate

Edema (swelling of bodily tissues)

It may increase the amount of lactic acid and pyruvic acid within the blood. In advanced cases, the disease may cause high output cardiac failure and death (other symptoms are described in Wernicke's encephalopathy in Wikipedia).

What Causes a Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Deficiency?

According to Web MD, Niacin deficiency is a condition that occurs when a person doesn't get enough or can't absorb niacin or tryptophan (the ingredient that makes you sleepy found in turkeys). Tryptophan is one of the amino acids that makes up protein. Your liver can convert tryptophan from high-protein foods like meats and milk into niacin.

Also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid, niacin is one of eight B vitamins. Like all B vitamins, niacin plays a role in converting carbohydrates into glucose, metabolizing fats and proteins, and keeping the nervous system working properly. Niacin also helps the body make sex- and stress-related hormones and improves circulation and cholesterol levels.

In the 1800s, pellagra was common among poor Americans whose diets consisted mostly of corn, molasses, and salt pork -- all poor sources of niacin. Today, most people in the developed world get plenty of niacin in their diets. Niacin deficiency is more likely to be caused by problems that affect absorption of niacin or tryptophan. The most common cause is alcoholism. Other possible causes include disorders of the digestive system and prolonged treatment with the tuberculosis drug isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid).

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Signs and Symptoms.

Symptoms of mild niacin deficiency include:



Canker sores



Severe deficiency, called pellagra, can cause symptoms related to the skin, digestive system, and nervous system. They include:

Thick, scaly pigmented rash on skin exposed to sunlight

Swollen mouth and bright red tongue

Vomiting and diarrhea






Memory loss

If not treated, pellagra can lead to death.

If you don't eat a lot of niacin-rich foods or if you have a medical condition that affects the absorption of niacin or tryptophan, speak to your doctor. Niacin supplements or multivitamin/mineral supplements, which usually contain at least 20 milligrams of niacin, can help prevent niacin deficiency.

What Causes a Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

According to Web MD, vitamin B12 has many important functions in the body. It works with the B vitamin folate to make our body's genetic material. It helps keep levels of the amino acid homocysteine in check, which may help decrease heart disease risk, and it is essential to the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the blood to the body's tissues.

But many people are deficient in this important vitamin.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can have a number of possible causes. Typically it occurs in people whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat.

This can be caused by:

Pernicious anemia, a condition in which there is a lack of a protein called intrinsic factor. The protein, which is made in the stomach, is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.

Atrophic gastritis, a thinning of the stomach lining that affects up to 30% of people aged 50 and older.

Surgery in which part of the stomach and/or small intestine is removed.

Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite.

Excessive alcohol consumption.

Autoimmune disorders, such as Graves' disease or systemic lupus erythematosus.

Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs.

Gastroparesis (which I'm going to add because it affects absorption).

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur in vegetarians, because the best food sources of the vitamin are animal products. Strict vegans (people who don't eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, or milk) are at greatest risk. Vegetarians who eat eggs and milk products are also at risk, because, on average, they consume less than half the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12. Babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also be deficient in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency; Signs and Symptoms.

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. A mild deficiency may cause only mild, if any, symptoms. But as the anemia worsens it may causes symptoms such as:

Weakness, tiredness or light-headedness

Rapid heartbeat and breathing

Pale skin

Sore tongue

Easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums

Stomach upset and weight loss

Diarrhea or constipation


If the deficiency is not corrected, it can damage the nerve cells. If this happens, according to Harvard, vitamin B12 deficiency effects may include:

Tingling or numbness in fingers and toes

Difficulty walking

Mood changes or depression

Memory loss



Yellowed skin (jaundice)

Difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss

Paranoia or hallucinations

What Causes a Vitamin C Deficiency?

The essential vitamin known as vitamin C is one of the most important elements in an individual’s daily diet, according to Discovery Health. We need Vitamin C to help contribute to good cellular growth, promote function of the circulatory system, and generally help our bodies to develop and maintain themselves. A vitamin C deficiency is a serious issue, and should be caught early and treated with natural foods or dietary supplements that contain plenty of this critical ingredient.

Vitamin C is destroyed by the process of pasteurization, so babies fed with ordinary bottled milk sometimes suffer from scurvy (which is a disease resulting from a vitamin C deficiency)if they are not provided with adequate vitamin supplements. Virtually all commercially available baby formulas contain added vitamin C for this reason, but heat and storage destroy vitamin C.

With Gastroparesis, it is hard for us to eat citrus or other foods that are high in vitamin C, so we become deficient. However, if you juice and can tolerate it, try and incorporate as much vitamin C as you can.

Vitamin C Deficiency; Signs and Symptoms.

According to Fit Day, a variety of symptoms will show that an individual is suffering from a vitamin C deficiency. Here are some of the top signs of this kind of shortage in the system.

Fatigue – Early on, someone with a vitamin C deficiency will tend to get tired easily and experience reduced energy. Because chronic fatigue is a symptom of so many illnesses, it can be hard to catch a specific condition based on this symptom.

Mood Changes – Individuals with a vitamin C deficiency may become irritable or short tempered.

Weight Loss – As with other “wasting conditions” someone with a vitamin C deficiency may experience sudden weight loss.

Joint and Muscle Aches – Chronic pain in the limbs or joints can be a symptom of a vitamin deficiency.

Bruising – Individuals with a vitamin C deficiency will tend to bruise easily. Excessive bruising is a sign that the body’s chemistry needs to be improved.

Dental Conditions – Just as a healthy daily dose of vitamin C contributes to healthy teeth and gums, a deficiency can cause deterioration of the gums. Periodontal problems are a symptom of a vitamin C deficiency that has been allowed to develop to a hazardous level. This kind of deficiency was classically called "scurvy" when it happened to mariners who had no access to nutrients (or sometimes even fresh water) on long trips at sea. In today’s world, it is a rare but frightening condition.

Dry Hair and Skin – A change in hair and skin conditions can also signal that the body is not getting enough of vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Infections – When an individual does not have enough vitamin C over time, this can have a negative impact on general healing of wounds and the fighting of infections. Generally, the body’s immune system will be compromised.

A shortage of vitamin C in the system can be treated with dietary supplements. However, it’s important to seek professional medical help, rather than self-medicating with natural medicine. Vitamin C supplements are generally not known to have side effects, although at extremely high levels, they can cause nausea or indigestion. Those who experience any of the above negative symptoms should see qualified family practice doctors to talk about what may be the issue and whether a dietary deficiency may be the root cause.

What Causes a Vitamin D Deficiency?

According to Web MD, Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons:

You don't consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. This is likely if you follow a strict vegetarian diet, because most of the natural sources are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver.

Your exposure to sunlight is limited. Because the body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you are homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure.

You have dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin's ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form. As people age their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Your digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D. Certain medical problems, including Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, gastroparesis, and celiac disease, can affect your intestine's ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat.

You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D Deficiency; Signs and Symptoms.

The best way to discover vitamin D deficiency is to take a blood test that will measure the level of the vitamin in your blood. You can either ask your doctor to administer the test or buy a home test kit do the test yourself. However, you are certainly vitamin D deficient if you have any of the following ailments, and you need to consult with your doctor regarding your preventive, as well as curative, options as soon as possible, according to Natural News.

Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Natural News says the following,
1.) The flu - In a study published in the Cambridge Journals, it was discovered that vitamin D deficiency predisposes children to respiratory diseases. An intervention study conducted showed that vitamin D reduces the incidence of respiratory infections in children.

2.) Muscle weakness - According to Michael F. Holick, a leading vitamin D expert, muscle weakness is usually caused by vitamin D deficiency because for skeletal muscles to function properly, their vitamin D receptors must be sustained by vitamin D.

3.) Psoriasis - In a study published by the UK PubMed central, it was discovered that synthetic vitamin D analogues were found useful in the treatment of psoriasis.

4.) Chronic kidney disease - According to Holick, patients with advanced chronic kidney diseases (especially those requiring dialysis) are unable to make the active form of vitamin D. These individuals need to take 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 or one of its calcemic analogues to support calcium metabolism, decrease the risk of renal bone disease and regulate parathyroid hormone levels.

5.) Diabetes - A study conducted in Finland was featured in in which 10,366 children were given 2000 international units (IU)/day of vitamin D3 per day during their first day of life. The children were monitored for 31 years and in all of them, the risk of type 1 diabetes was reduced by 80 percent.

6.) Asthma - Vitamin D may reduce the severity of asthma attacks. Research conducted in Japan revealed that asthma attacks in school children were significantly lowered in those subjects taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 1200 IU a day.

7.) Periodontal disease - Those suffering from this chronic gum disease that causes swelling and bleeding gums should consider raising their vitamin D levels to produce defensins and cathelicidin, compounds that contain microbial properties and lower the number of bacteria in the mouth.

8.) Cardiovascular disease - Congestive heart failure is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Research conducted at Harvard University among nurses found that women with low vitamin D levels (17 ng/m [42 nmol/L]) had a 67 percent increased risk of developing hypertension.

9.) Schizophrenia and Depression - These disorders have been linked to vitamin D deficiency. In a study, it was discovered that maintaining sufficient vitamin D among pregnant women and during childhood was necessary to satisfy the vitamin D receptor in the brain integral for brain development and mental function maintenance in later life.

10.) Cancer - Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC discovered a connection between high vitamin D intake and reduced risk of breast cancer. These findings, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, revealed that increased doses of the sunshine vitamin were linked to a 75 percent reduction in overall cancer growth and 50 percent reduction in tumor cases among those already having the disease. Of interest was the capacity of vitamin supplementation to help control the development and growth of breast cancer specially estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.

Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:

Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease

Cognitive impairment in older adults

Severe asthma in children


Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

These various health conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency need not be something to fear. A proactive approach to prevention can assist in the avoidance of the many chronic diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency. For one, thousands of dollars can be saved, not to mention the peace of mind, simply at the cost of taking a walk under the sun. Save the umbrellas for the rainy days.

What Causes a Vitamin K Deficiency?

According to Paul Simms, a writer on the subject, vitamin K deficiency is rarely seen on its own, it is usually the result of another problem within the body. Not only is Vitamin K found in a large variety of easily obtainable foods such as vegetables and dairy products, it is also synthesized by bacteria in the small intestines where it is absorbed into the body. The body is also very efficient at recycling Vitamin K; each molecule can be used multiple times before degrading.

The most frequent cause of Vitamin K deficiency is the long term use of antibiotics. Since about half of the Vitamin K in the body is produced by bacteria in the small intestines, the use of antibiotics, which kill that bacteria will lead to a drastic decrease in the amount of Vitamin K available for absorption. For this reason, individuals taking antibiotics are often given Vitamin K supplements. Related to this, often times newborn infants will have a Vitamin K deficiency, not because of antibiotics destroying the beneficial bacteria, but because the bacteria has not had time to properly populate the small intestines.

Another reason an individual might develop a Vitamin K deficiency is because of an illness, injury or disease that affects the small intestines and prevents the absorption of the nutrient. Inflammatory bowel disease or other chronic diseases of the intestines often result in deficiencies of many different vitamins and minerals because the cells lining the intestines are unable to extract the nutrients before they pass through the body.

The final reason for the appearance of many symptoms of Vitamin K deficiency is because of liver damage or disease. After being absorbed by the small intestines, Vitamin K is processed into it's functioning forms in the liver. When there is damage to the liver, like is seen in cases of alcoholism or Hepatitis, sometimes the processing of the Vitamin K is diminished to the extent that it cannot perform its functions.

Vitamin K Deficiency; Signs and Symptoms.

According to Newsmax, deficiency of vitamin K results in serious complications such as prolonged blood clotting time and an increased risk to haemorrhages. Inadequate intake of vitamin K can lead to a deficiency. The best way to counter the symptoms of vitamin K deficiency would be to add foods like soybeans, leafy vegetables (spinach and broccoli), wheat bran, berries, etc. in the diet.

Signs of vitamin K deficiency:

Deficiency of vitamin K causes delayed blood coagulation, gum bleeding, nose bleeding, easy bruising, and tendencies toward nose-bleeding and gum-bleeding. Symptoms and signs of vitamin K deficiency further include bleeding within the digestive tract

Appearance of blood in urine or stool and experiencing heavy bleeding during menstrual cycle are also signs of vitamin K deficiency.

Deficiencies of vitamin K are not very common among adults, but newborns are found to be at a higher risk as breast milk is typically low in vitamin K and the infant’s natural vitamin K cycle may not be fully developed.

Signs of vitamin K deficiency include weakening of bones, osteoporosis, and fractures.

Other symptoms of vitamin K deficiency are hardening of heart valves, owing to calcification, purpurea, and neural tube defects.

A deficiency of vitamin K can affect a new-born baby or fetus as well. Vitamin K deficiency may result in internal bleeding (in the skull), malformed fingers, and under-developed facial features like ears, nose, and chin. Vitamin K helps in the overall development of the fetus. This explains why a pregnant woman is usually given vitamin K in the form of food supplements.

Hemorrhages are also among the signs and symptoms of a vitamin K deficiency. Deficiency of vitamin K leads to a reduction in the prothrobin content of blood. If you are deficient in vitamin K, you will suffer from blood clotting. Deficiency of vitamin K can also lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Other prominent signs and symptoms of vitamin K deficiency are prolonged clotting times, hemorrhaging, and anemia.

Vitamin K deficiency-related symptoms lead to excessive deposition of calcium in soft tissues. Hardening of the arteries or calcium-related problems are the other common signs of vitamin K deficiency. So are biliary obstruction, malabsorption, cystic fibrosis, and resection of the small intestine.

Here are some charts that go along with vitamin deficiencies that I wanted to include:

List of Sources:


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