Sunday, June 1, 2008

Vitamins for Specific Conditions

Posted by Neill Abayon

Anyone with a specific vitamin deficiency should take measures to replenish it. Deficiencies may be detected when symptoms develop or when laboratory abnormalities are noticed in routine testing. Some of the more common vitamin deficiencies include:

* Vitamin B12 — Low B12 may cause megaloblastic or "pernicious" anemia, difficulty sensing the position of the feet or legs, and, eventually, dementia. In children, it can cause growth problems. In pregnant women, B12 deficiency is a cause of birth defects.

* Folate (or folic acid, another B vitamin) — Too little can cause anemia. Low levels are also associated with increased homocysteine, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

* Vitamin C — Deficiency is called scurvy, which affects many parts of the body, including bones, teeth and blood vessels. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, rash, irritability and muscle aches. Severe and longstanding deficiency can lead to bleeding, poor wound healing and death.

* Vitamin D — In children, deficiency of vitamin D causes rickets, a condition marked by deformed bone growth. In adults, the condition is called osteomalacia (literally, bone softening), which causes bone pain and weakened bones that fracture more easily than normal.

* Vitamin B1 (thiamin) — In developed countries, deficiency most often is associated with alcoholism and poor nutrition. Symptoms include confusion, eye problems and imbalance. In developing nations, thiamin deficiency may cause heart failure and muscle weakness.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about their cause, including the possibility of a vitamin deficiency.

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