Are Your Symptoms of Old Age Really a Vitamin Deficiency?

Some vitamin deficiencies go unnoticed. They creep up on us without us even knowing it. You’re eating healthy and doing everything right, but you have brain fog, low energy, frequent colds, and other infections. Maybe you have blotchy skin like you never had before and so you assume you are just getting old and you resign yourself to live with these symptoms. Maybe you don’t even mention them to your doctor because you read that healthy people don’t need vitamins and you certainly ARE healthy.

Let me introduce you to something I call insidious vitamin deficiencies. These sneaky deficiencies creep up on us, set in, and can make us miserable. The number one offender that was just recently discovered in the last 10 years is vitamin D. Prior to this discovery it was thought that vitamin D deficiency was only associated with bad bones: rickets in children, and osteomalacias in adults. These bone diseases usually occur when the vitamin d levels in our bodies are very low.

Then doctors discovered a new range for vitamin D. In this range the bones were healthy, yet health problems still persisted. Now we know Vitamin D does so much more than just regulate bones. Doctors have finally found the perfect range of vitamin D in the blood where the body is optimized. (1, 2)

The reason this deficiency is happening was that our bodies make less vitamin D as we age, and we are going out into the sunless often. Going out into the sun starts the manufacturing processes of vitamin D. (1)

In my opinion, and the opinion of many other experts, the same thing is also happening with Vitamin B12 and Magnesium (3,4). People are living with these vitamin deficiencies thinking their symptoms are old age when they are not.

Our bodies lose the ability to absorb these nutrients over time and very common drugs are depleting these nutrients from our bodies. Doctors can now test blood levels of B12 and see if this deficiency is present. But Magnesium is more complicated because it resides inside the cells. Only 1% of magnesium is in the bloodstream where laboratories can test. Therefore, if a magnesium blood level is low, most likely a magnesium deficiency is causing the symptoms. However, often times the magnesium blood levels are normal and the person truly has a magnesium deficiency—yet it goes undetected. (4)

For more reading material on the subject of vitamins, I suggest the NIH website and Medline plus. These websites have no tricky advertisements and have no intention to sell you anything. The information they contain is gathered by teams of medical experts who analyze the medical studies and discussed the information. I find that the information is very reliable. If you have a skeptical mind, you can click on that tab for “health professionals” and can see their references that were used to make specific claims. The tab information for “consumers” is easier to understand. I often read this website and compare it to other databases. Unfortunately, many of these databases need a subscription and they can be very pricey for the casual reader. Preventative medicine is my hobby and I enjoy reading material such as this from many sources.

Essential nutrient and statistics Drugs that can cause this deficiency: Symptoms of this deficiency that mimic old age Symptoms
associated with this deficiency that are never normal
Vitamin D:
60% of nursing home residents and 57% of hospitalized patients were found to be vitamin D deficient (5)
Dilantin, phenobarbital, and rifampin Muscle weakness and pain, especially pressure applied to the sternum or tibia. Poor balance, frequent falls. Severely brittle bones. Hyperparathyroid disease (as the body desperately tries to compensate)
Vitamin B12:

5-20% of those over 50 years old have this. That is as high as 1 in 5 people over the age of 50 have this. (6)
Alcoholic beverages.
Glucophage (aka metformin) a type 2 diabetes drug.
Drugs that treat heartburn and cause low stomach acid
Premature gray hair. Blotchy colored skin.
Walking with feet far apart to keep balance.
Low energy,
Memory loss,
Brain fog
Anemia, with cells of an unusual size or shape.
Tingling in the hands, feet, arms, legs.
The unexplained weakness of the legs leading to paraplegia in extreme cases.
Magnesium: 75% of Americans don’t consume enough magnesium and some experts say it is a nation-wide deficiency. (4) Alcohol drinkers.
Any drug that causes diarrhea,
Water pills also are known as diuretics.
Low energy. Brain fog. Muscle weakness. Tremor, anxiety, apathy, irritability, depression, Unstable walking. Abnormal eye movements called nystagmus, tetany, dizziness, seizures, delirium, and psychosis, abnormal heartbeats.

References:

  1. National Institute of Health/Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH Vitamin D: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
  2. Vitamin D and extraskeletal health, Author Roger Bouillon, MD, Ph.D., FRCP, UpToDate, Accessed online June 03, 2017, http://www.uptodate.com/contents/vitamin-d-and-extraskeletal-health
  3. B12 Deficiency May Be More Widespread Than Thought, Judy McBride August 2, 2000, https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2000/b12-deficiency-may-be-more-widespread-than-thought/
  4. Magnesium Deficiency: The Real Emperor of All Maladies? George D. Lundberg, MD, published online May 11, 2015, Medscape http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/844214
  5. Vitamin D Deficiency and Related Disorders. Updated Oct 10, 2016, Medscape  Authors: Vin Tangpricha, MD, Ph.D.; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD,http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/128762-overview
  6. Vitamin B-12 Associated Neurological Diseases. Aug 04, 2016, Medscape. Authors: Niranjan N Singh, MD, DM; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1152670-overview#showall

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