Hair Loss is Just the Start of These 12 Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

 Anna Garland
  Jan 02, 2018

Hair loss is one of the most well-known vitamin deficiency symptoms, but it’s not the only one. A lack of essential nutrients is a major health hazard, and everyone should be aware of what could happen without proper nutrition and supplementation. Everything from your bones to your organs is at risk, and many people around the world suffer terrible illness thanks to low vitamin levels.

Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

We’ve listed some of the worst signs of vitamin deficiency besides balding or thinning hair. If you’re investigating hair loss vitamins to keep yourself looking good, here are 12 other ways you’re maintaining your health. Some of them might shock you.


This eye disorder is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin A. It is one of the predominant causes of blindness worldwide. An eye suffering from keratomalacia is easily spotted by the opaque, milky cornea.

This terrible illness is common in the third world, but is easily preventable with access to quality food. Vitamin A is plentiful in foods such as carrots and kale, as well as green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.

If all else fails and you just can’t eat your veggies, take a vitamin supplement. Most multivitamins contain A, and specialized supplements are also available.


Named for the Sinhalese word for “weak”, beriberi is the common name for vitamin B1 deficiency. Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is found in red meat, as well as nuts, eggs, and many legumes. Many cereal products are also fortified with it.

Without sufficient thiamine, the legs can swell and even become paralyzed. People suffering from beriberi often experience an elevated heart rate and shortness of breath, and may find it difficult to mentally focus.


Riboflavin is also known as Vitamin B2, and is most easily obtained from dairy products, as well as mushrooms, legumes, and organ meats.

A vitamin B2 deficiency is called ariboflavinosis, and can become a serious medical condition. Symptoms begin with a sore throat and tongue, and severely chapped lips that spread to the corners of the mouth. From there, the deficiency causes a skin rash, itchy eyes, and a sensitivity to light. If left unchecked, ariboflavinosis can develop into anemia.

Taking a vitamin B supplement is strongly advised if you suspect your levels are low, particularly if you are pregnant. Ariboflavinosis can cause serious birth defects.


Another symptom of vitamin B deficiency, pellagra is primarily caused by a lack of Vitamin B3. Pellagra is classified as a disease, with symptoms including skin inflammation, diarrhea, and sores inside the mouth.

If left untreated, pellagra can spread to the brain, causing dementia and even death.

This disorder is one of the most severe conditions that can result from vitamin deficiency, but thankfully it is easily avoided in the developed world. Niacin is readily available from poultry and fish, as well as peanuts, mushrooms, and green peas.


Paresthesia isn’t dangerous on its own, but can be a sign of a more serious medical issue. It’s more commonly known as “pins and needles”, and refers to a prickling sensation in the extremities. If you’ve ever had your foot fall asleep, then paresthesia is that uncomfortable feeling as blood flow returns.

Paresthesia has several potential causes, but one of the most common is a deficiency in vitamin E, vitamin B12, or vitamin B9 (folate). If you find yourself experiencing paresthesia regularly, consider upping your intake of these nutrients.

Biotin Deficiency

Biotin is one of the most important vitamins for hair, skin, and nail health. A deficiency in biotin causes a variety of symptoms, including dry, brittle hair, skin rashes, and even total hair loss. Finger and toenails may lose their integrity, causing a yellowed, cracked appearance.

At extreme levels, biotin deficiency leads to anemia, hallucinations, and depression. Pregnant women should be sure to eat enough biotin-rich foods, as a deficiency may also cause birth defects.

Biotin is available in most meat and dairy foods, as well as in whole grains, nuts, and legumes. If needed, biotin supplements are sold in a variety of forms, including pills, liquids, and sublingual tablets.

Pernicious Anemia

Despite the amusing name, pernicious anemia is a serious medical condition that should be treated as soon as possible. Anemia refers to a lack of red blood cells in the bloodstream. Without enough red blood cells, the body doesn’t receive enough oxygen, causing shortness of breath, numbness in the extremities, slow reflexes, and mental issues like disorientation and depression.

Pernicious anemia is the name for anemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 is primarily obtained from meat sources, so this disorder is often found in vegans who do not properly plan their diets. The vitamin does not naturally occur in plants, so vegans must obtain it from supplements or fortified foods.


Probably the most well-known vitamin deficiency of all, scurvy isn’t just for pirates. Insufficient vitamin C leads to a range of symptoms, including anemia, hair loss, and bleeding from the gums. Over time, the skin will begin to bleed as well. The body’s immune system begins to shut down, rendering the patient more susceptible to wounds or infection. Eventually, death may occur.

Fortunately, as the British navy learned in the 1700s, scurvy is easily preventable by eating some citrus fruit. If oranges or lemons aren’t available to you, be sure to take a multivitamin or vitamin C supplement.


Unlike many other vitamin-related illnesses, rickets is relatively common worldwide. It’s another name for vitamin D deficiency, and carries serious symptoms that include easily broken bones muscle spasms, and brain dysfunction.

Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body when exposed to sunlight, so rickets has a greater chance of developing during the wintertime, or in people who spend most of their time indoors. The vitamin is also obtained from eggs, dairy, mushrooms, and especially fish. In olden days, rickets was treated using cod liver oil. Today, we have remedies that don’t taste quite as bad.


Dysarthria refers to a neurological disorder that interferes with speech. Patients lose fine motor control over their mouth and vocal cords, making it difficult to form words.

This illness can result as a secondary symptom of Parkinson’s or other degenerative diseases. It can also result from a physical injury to the brain. Most relevantly, it can also be a side effect of vitamin B12 deficiency.

The B vitamins in general are extremely important to the body’s proper function. Whether you obtain your vitamins from supplements or food, be sure to monitor your B levels.


Osteoporosis is a common medical issue among senior citizens all over the world. The bones become dramatically weaker, to the point where even a simple fall can result in a fracture.

Since osteoporosis is so widespread, scientists have conducted a great deal of research into its causes and potential treatments. They’ve concluded that there are two ways to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis later in life. First, physical exercise. Being active at any age will help your bones stay strong.

Second, eat plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Both vitamins support bone health. A deficiency in either is a major risk factor for osteoporosis.

Hair Loss

Biotin deficiency is well-known as a cause of hair loss, but so is a deficiency in vitamin D. Other nutrient deficiencies, such as iron or zinc, can also lead to thinning hair or balding.

To make sure your hair keeps growing thick, strong, and shiny, one of the best things you can do is make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients. If your lifestyle makes it difficult to fit in a varied diet, then try vitamin supplements. Many are specifically designed to target hair loss, containing everything your body needs, with special attention paid to biotin and other hair-essential nutrients.

Hair Loss is Just the Start of These 12 Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

Anna Garland

Originally from Ukraine, I moved to Israel a couple of years ago. I'm studying Psychology at Ariel University, Tel-Aviv and making my first steps in freelance writing. I'm enjoying this stage of my life in lovely Israel, which unlocked my passion for writing, health and beauty.

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