Deficiencies

Vitamin K deficiency

 This deficiency affects nearly half of all newborn infants worldwide. In severe cases it causes uncontrolled bleeding and underdeveloped faces and bones. Many hospitals give newborns vitamin K injections to avoid the more severe symptoms. Unfortunately babies born outside hospitals are statistically at a much higher risk of serious deficiencies. Vitamin K is found chiefly in leafy green vegetables, although human gut bacteria help produce it in humans. Newborns have not yet developed gut bacteria which is why they are so prone to deficiencies. Other than newborns, vitamin K deficiency is found in alcoholics, bulimics, strict dieters, and people with various severe diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Adults who bruise or bleed easily sometimes have vitamin K deficiency which itself may be indicative of one of these more serious disorders.
Hypocobalaminemia

Fatigue

This mouthful of a disease was first noticed as a symptom of an autoimmune disease. It causes gradual deterioration of the spinal cord and very gradual brain deterioration, resulting in sensory or motor deficiencies. Mental disorders from the gradual brain damage begin as fatigue, irritability, depression, or bad memory. As the disease progresses over several years, psychosis and mania can appear. This damage is irreversible and is caused by a deficiency in vitamin B12. Fortunately, this vitamin is easily found in meat, dairy, and eggs. Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and can last for years before deficiency sets in. Hypocobalaminemia is most common in developing countries amongst people who eat few animal products. The most at-risk groups in developed countries are vegans, as no plant produces enough B12 for a human diet. Children need much more B12 than adults because they are growing, so infants who are only breast-fed can become deficient and suffer permanent brain damage if their mother is only slightly deficient. Supplements are recommended for people of all diet types as an easy way to avoid the devastation of this disease.

Paraesthesia

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Vitamin B5 is found in nearly every food, and deficiencies are found in people who have been starving, volunteers of particular medical studies, and people on diets restricted to a very small number of foods. A deficiency in vitamin B5 causes chronic paraesthesia. Paraesthesia is most familiar to us as the numbing sensation we feel as ‘pins and needles’ or a limb ‘falling asleep’. This kind of paraesthesia is perfectly normal; however, in vitamin B5 deficiencies it occurs constantly. Malnourished prisoners of war sometimes reported prickling and burning sensations in their hands and feet which is now thought to have been paraesthesia. As this is nearly unseen today, most vitamin supplements do not include B5.

Night Blindness

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The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks wrote about night blindness, or ‘nyctalopia’. This affliction makes it impossible to see in dim light, and sufferers become completely blind when night falls. The Egyptians found that they could cure sufferers by feeding them liver, which contains high levels of vitamin A, the deficiency of which causes night blindness. Vitamin A deficiency still affects one third of all children on Earth under the age of five, resulting in over half a million deaths each year. Most high dose vitamins obtain their vitamin A from liver, which is dangerous at high levels and can cause various health complications. In the past, starving Antarctic explorers would eat their dogs for food but became sick when they ate too much liver. Vitamin A found in carrots is a slightly different molecule to that found in liver and is not toxic in high doses, although it can cause skin to turn yellow. During the Second World War, the Allies announced that they ate carrots to see well, although carrots only help maintain normal vision and do not improve it beyond this. Actually they were lying to hide their development of radar.