Last Updated on March 20, 2020

key vitaminsHow Your Body Tells You When You’re Running Low on Key Vitamins

Vitamins are important for good health. One of the best ways to get the vitamins you need is through the food you eat. But when that food is nutritionally lacking, it can make good health hard to achieve.

In the U.S. alone, more than 40% of adults are getting less than the recommended amounts of vitamins A, C and D, and magnesium. And that can have a big impact on our health. Here’s a quick-hitting list of the key nutrients your body needs to function at its best—and the signs that you’re running low on these vitamins.

Vitamin D

Found in foods like fish, mushrooms and fortified milk, this hormone can also be generated by exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is crucial to keeping your bones strong. It also plays an important role in immunity and wound healing.

Signs you could be deficient: Too little Vitamin D in your body may leave you feeling depressed and lethargic and feeling achy in your bones. You may see increased hair loss and experience muscle pain, too. Some studies have found links between back pain and low levels of Vitamin D. How much Vitamin D should you take for good health? Check your recommended dietary allowance based on age here.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in many fruits and veggies. Citrus fruits, in particular, are storehouses of this important vitamin. Vitamin C is important for healthy skin, wound healing, healthy joints, strong bones, good immunity and healthy teeth and gums. About 7% of adults are deficient in Vitamin C. Are you?

Signs you could be deficient: Check yourself for these common symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency. If you’re lacking Vitamin C, you could be experiencing bleeding gums, tooth loss, weak bones, swollen, painful joints, fast bruising and rough, bumpy skin. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, check with our doctor to see if you might be lacking this essential vitamin. If you are, up your intake through fresh foods and supplementation. How much Vitamin C should you take for good health? Check your recommended dietary allowance based on age here.


The mineral iron is found in particularly high levels in foods like seafood and red meat. It’s also found in lower amounts in nuts and beans, and added as a necessary component to enriched flour. Iron plays a key role in turning food and other nutrients into energy. It helps produce hemoglobin in the blood, which helps transport oxygen throughout the body. It also helps the body coordinate bodily movements.

Signs you could be deficient: About 5 million Americans suffer from iron deficiency anemia. This leaves them feeling weak and tired, and they may become dizzy for no seeming reason and have difficulty concentrating. They may start to look pale, experience shortness of breath and tongue swelling. How much iron should you take for good health? Check your recommended dietary allowance based on age here.


Magnesium is considered a trace mineral, but that doesn’t make it any less essential to a good, healthy lifestyle. Found n foods such as whole grains, nuts and seeds, green leafy veggies and tomatoes, magnesium is vital for keeping your body running the right way. It helps regulate everything from blood pressure and blood sugar levels to muscle and nerve function. It also helps with DNA production and protein creation.

Signs you could be deficient: Most cases of low magnesium in the U.S. are seen among men over the age of 70 and teenage girls. Low magnesium levels may lead to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, osteoporosis and migraines. While magnesium is necessary to keep the body healthy, too much can be detrimental (especially if you have problems with your kidneys), so make sure you speak with your healthcare professional to see if you should supplement with magnesium. Check your recommended daily allowance based on age here.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K typically doesn’t get as much airtime as vitamins like A, C and E. But since it helps your blood clot, it’s definitely important to make sure you’re getting enough of it. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as in broccoli and Brussel sprouts—everyone’s favorites veggies, we know. Along with calcium, it may also play a role in keeping bones strong and healthy.

Signs you could be deficient: Vitamin K deficiency is rare. But if you’re bruising easily or seeing blood in your stools or blood clots under your nails, you should get in touch with your doctor to see if you might be deficient in this nutrient—or if there’s some other cause at play.

Your body runs most efficiently when it has all the nutrients it needs, and it has a unique way of getting our attention when things aren’t as they should be. If you’re noticing strange symptoms happening in your body, contact your healthcare professional to check if you’re deficient in certain nutrients. They can also help you rule out more serious health problems. When you’re ready to start supplementing, check out these reviews for top dietary supplements to find the ones that are right for you.

Cory is a veteran health industry writer and content creator. His work has been featured in major publications such as MyFitnessPal, Healthy Living, and Low Carb Fanatics. His health industry writing career spans over nearly two decades.

In his free time, Cory enjoys snowboarding, fictional writing, and online chess.