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Common Vitamin Deficiencies

5 Common Vitamin Deficiencies

5 Common Vitamin Deficiencies And How To Prevent Them

Despite living in a time where access to food and resources is abundant, many people still suffer from 5 common vitamin deficiencies. Vitamins play crucial roles in maintaining various bodily functions, from metabolism and immune system health to bone strength and energy levels. When we lack these essential nutrients, our bodies inevitably suffer from a range of symptoms that affect our overall health and quality of life.

Let’s look at the 5 most common vitamin deficiencies and why many people don’t get enough of them. We will also explore the impact of these deficiencies on our health and discuss simple ways to prevent them.

Common Vitamin Deficiencies – Iodine Deficiency

Iodine is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and support brain function. Despite its importance, iodine deficiency is a prevalent issue worldwide, affecting over 2.2 billion people.1

Symptoms of iodine deficiency include weight gain, fatigue, and feeling cold. In severe cases, iodine deficiency leads to hypothyroidism, cognitive impairment, and goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland. To prevent iodine deficiency, it is essential to consume foods rich in iodine, such as seaweed, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. Iodized salt is also a common source of iodine in many countries, although the iodine in iodized salt is poorly absorbed by the body.2

The main source of iodine in most diets is from seafood and dairy products. As vegans and most vegetarians do not consume these foods, they often do not get enough iodine in their diet.3

Correcting An Iodine Deficiency

If you are not getting enough iodine in your diet, consuming a small amount of Lugol’s iodine solution can correct a deficiency. Lugol’s Iodine solution is a mixture of elemental iodine and potassium iodide dissolved in water. The exact composition may vary depending on the manufacturer, but it typically contains 5% iodine and 10% potassium iodide. This combination has a wide range of benefits to both the thyroid and other tissues.4

Common Vitamin Deficiencies – Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, protein synthesis, and blood pressure regulation. Despite its importance, studies show that around half of the US population does not meet the recommended daily intake for magnesium.5

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can range from mild, such as muscle cramps and fatigue, to more severe, such as heart palpitations and seizures. Chronic magnesium deficiency increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.6

Magnesium Has Been Leached From The Soil

The widespread use of chemical fertilizers and other modern farming practices have led to a depletion of magnesium in our soils. Chemical fertilizers contain high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, also known as NPK. While these nutrients are crucial for plant growth, they do not provide sufficient amounts of magnesium for optimal plant health. As a result, crops grown in soils treated with chemical fertilizers are deficient in magnesium.7

In order to maintain healthy and productive soils, it is crucial to replenish magnesium levels. This can be achieved through sustainable farming practices such as crop rotation, organic composting, and using natural fertilizers that contain magnesium. Sustainable organic farming methods not only help replenish magnesium levels in soil, but they also promote overall soil health and biodiversity.8

To prevent magnesium deficiency, it is essential to consume organic foods rich in this mineral, such as bananas, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.9

Magnesium Supplementation

Supplementation may be necessary for those with severe deficiencies or certain health conditions. Magnesium supplements come in different forms including magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium oxide. Each form has its own unique benefits and bioavailability.

Magnesium Citrate is highly absorbable and often used for its laxative effects. It can help with constipation and also improves overall digestion. Magnesium Glycinate is highly absorbable and gentle on the stomach. It is often recommended for those with digestive issues or sensitive stomachs. Magnesium Chloride is highly absorbable and is helpful for those with low stomach acid levels. It is also known for its calming effects and can help with muscle relaxation.

While Magnesium Oxide is less expensive, it also has a lower bioavailability. Unfortunately, it is widely used in many supplements. Avoid this form of magnesium and instead opt for one of the options above.10

Common Vitamin Deficiencies – Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and DNA. It also supports nerve function and aids in the metabolism of energy. Studies show that up to 15% of people have a vitamin B12 deficiency, with higher rates among older adults and vegetarians.11

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, tingling sensations in the hands and feet, and memory problems. Prolonged deficiency may lead to more severe conditions such as anemia or nerve damage.12

Common Vitamin Deficiencies - Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The Role Of The Microbiome In Vitamin B12 Absorption

The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the microbiome. These microbes play a crucial role in various bodily functions and are also responsible for producing certain vitamins, including vitamin B12. Research has shown that certain strains of bacteria in the gut produce vitamin B12, making it available for absorption.

Maintaining a healthy balance of gut microbes is important for overall health, including vitamin B12 status. Imbalances in the gut microbiome, such as dysbiosis (an overgrowth of harmful bacteria), interfere with the production and absorption of vitamin B12. This can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency even in individuals with an adequate dietary intake.13

For adequate Vitamin B12 production, we need to address microbiome dysfunction.

To prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, it is important to consume foods rich in this vitamin, such as grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish. Supplementation, either oral or injection, may also be necessary for those with dietary restrictions or conditions that affect the absorption of B12.14

Common Vitamin Deficiencies – Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in bone health by regulating calcium and phosphorus levels. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and supports immune function. Despite its importance, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide, with studies estimating that over 50% of the global population is deficient.15

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, and bone pain. Vitamin D supports healthy immune function, regulates cell growth, and helps reduce inflammation. Insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to a variety of health issues such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to depression and other mental health disorders.16

To prevent vitamin D deficiency, it is essential to consume foods rich in this vitamin, such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms.17 

Exposure to sunlight is the best way to produce vitamin D. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces a form of vitamin D called cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3. This is then converted into its active form in the liver and kidneys.18

Supplementation may be necessary for those with limited sun exposure or malabsorption issues.

Read more about how crucial Vitamin D is for our health.

Common Vitamin Deficiencies - Vitamin D Deficiency

Common Vitamin Deficiencies – Vitamin K2 Deficiency

Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in blood clotting and bone metabolism. Studies suggest that deficiencies of vitamin K2 may be more common than previously thought, especially among those on restricted diets or with digestive issues.

Symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency include easy bruising, excessive bleeding, and weakened bones. Prolonged deficiency leads to more severe conditions such as osteoporosis and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.19

To prevent vitamin K2 deficiency, it is essential to consume foods rich in this vitamin, such as liver, egg yolks, and grass-fed animal products. Grass-fed meat, compared to grain-fed meat, is a much richer source of vitamin K2. This is because the animals are able to obtain more nutrients from their natural diet of grass, which includes the essential fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K2. In contrast, grain-fed animals do not have access to these vital nutrients and therefore their meat contains significantly lower levels of vitamin K2.20 21

Supplementation may also be necessary for those with dietary restrictions or certain health conditions.

Read more about eating grass-fed meat.

5 Common Vitamin Deficiencies And How To Prevent Them

Vitamin deficiencies are common but preventable issues that significantly impact our overall health and well-being. By understanding the importance of essential vitamins and taking steps to ensure adequate intake, we can improve our quality of life and reduce the risk of developing various health conditions.

Read more about other vitamin and mineral deficiencies that affect our health.


1 Hatch-McChesney A, Lieberman HR. Iodine and Iodine Deficiency: A Comprehensive Review of a Re-Emerging Issue. Nutrients. 2022 Aug 24;14(17):3474. doi: 10.3390/nu14173474. PMID: 36079737; PMCID: PMC9459956.

2 Eastman CJ, Zimmermann MB. The Iodine Deficiency Disorders. [Updated 2018 Feb 6]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000-. Available from:

3 Krajcovicová-Kudlácková M, Bucková K, Klimes I, Seboková E. Iodine deficiency in vegetarians and vegans. Ann Nutr Metab. 2003;47(5):183-5. doi: 10.1159/000070483. PMID: 12748410.

4 Calissendorff J, Falhammar H. Lugol’s solution and other iodide preparations: perspectives and research directions in Graves’ disease. Endocrine. 2017 Dec;58(3):467-473. doi: 10.1007/s12020-017-1461-8. Epub 2017 Oct 26. PMID: 29075974; PMCID: PMC5693970.

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6 DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018 Jan 13;5(1):e000668. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668. Erratum in: Open Heart. 2018 Apr 5;5(1):e000668corr1. PMID: 29387426; PMCID: PMC5786912.

7 Chaudhry AH, Nayab S, Hussain SB, Ali M, Pan Z. Current Understandings on Magnesium Deficiency and Future Outlooks for Sustainable Agriculture. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Feb 12;22(4):1819. doi: 10.3390/ijms22041819. PMID: 33673043; PMCID: PMC7917752.

8 Montgomery DR, Biklé A, Archuleta R, Brown P, Jordan J. 2022. Soil health and nutrient density: preliminary comparison of regenerative and conventional farming. PeerJ 10:e12848

9 Razzaque MS. Magnesium: Are We Consuming Enough? Nutrients. 2018 Dec 2;10(12):1863. doi: 10.3390/nu10121863. PMID: 30513803; PMCID: PMC6316205.

10 Blancquaert L, Vervaet C, Derave W. Predicting and Testing Bioavailability of Magnesium Supplements. Nutrients. 2019 Jul 20;11(7):1663. doi: 10.3390/nu11071663. PMID: 31330811; PMCID: PMC6683096.

11 Shipton MJ, Thachil J. Vitamin B12 deficiency – A 21st century perspective . Clin Med (Lond). 2015 Apr;15(2):145-50. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.15-2-145. PMID: 25824066; PMCID: PMC4953733.

12 Ankar A, Kumar A. Vitamin B12 Deficiency. [Updated 2022 Oct 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:

13 Guetterman HM, Huey SL, Knight R, Fox AM, Mehta S, Finkelstein JL. Vitamin B-12 and the Gastrointestinal Microbiome: A Systematic Review. Adv Nutr. 2022 Mar;13(2):530-558. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmab123. Epub 2023 Feb 10. PMID: 34612492; PMCID: PMC8970816.

14 Markun S, Gravestock I, Jäger L, Rosemann T, Pichierri G, Burgstaller JM. Effects of Vitamin B12 Supplementation on Cognitive Function, Depressive Symptoms, and Fatigue: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Meta-Regression. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 12;13(3):923. doi: 10.3390/nu13030923. PMID: 33809274; PMCID: PMC8000524.

15 Sizar O, Khare S, Goyal A, et al. Vitamin D Deficiency. [Updated 2023 Jul 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:

16 Sultan S, Taimuri U, Basnan SA, Ai-Orabi WK, Awadallah A, Almowald F, Hazazi A. Low Vitamin D and Its Association with Cognitive Impairment and Dementia. J Aging Res. 2020 Apr 30;2020:6097820. doi: 10.1155/2020/6097820. PMID: 32399297; PMCID: PMC7210535.

17 Dominguez LJ, Farruggia M, Veronese N, Barbagallo M. Vitamin D Sources, Metabolism, and Deficiency: Available Compounds and Guidelines for Its Treatment. Metabolites. 2021 Apr 20;11(4):255. doi: 10.3390/metabo11040255. PMID: 33924215; PMCID: PMC8074587.

18 Chalcraft JR, Cardinal LM, Wechsler PJ, Hollis BW, Gerow KG, Alexander BM, Keith JF, Larson-Meyer DE. Vitamin D Synthesis Following a Single Bout of Sun Exposure in Older and Younger Men and Women. Nutrients. 2020 Jul 27;12(8):2237. doi: 10.3390/nu12082237. PMID: 32727044; PMCID: PMC7468901.

19 Maresz K. Growing Evidence of a Proven Mechanism Shows Vitamin K2 Can Impact Health Conditions Beyond Bone and Cardiovascular. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2021 Aug;20(4):34-38. PMID: 34602875; PMCID: PMC8483258.

20 Maresz K. Growing Evidence of a Proven Mechanism Shows Vitamin K2 Can Impact Health Conditions Beyond Bone and Cardiovascular. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2021 Aug;20(4):34-38. PMID: 34602875; PMCID: PMC8483258.

21 Rødbotten R, Gundersen T, Vermeer C, Kirkhus B. Vitamin K2 in different bovine muscles and breeds. Meat Sci. 2014 May;97(1):49-53. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2014.01.005. Epub 2014 Jan 22. PMID: 24508562.

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