When looking to identify nutritional deficiencies in regard to vitamin B12, these can include older adults …
The body relies on many vitamins and minerals for optimal bone and muscle health, making it important for chiropractic professionals to address potential deficiency concerns. Addressing these concerns begins with first identifying whether a deficiency may exist. Here’s what to look for to identify nutritional deficiencies and supply nutrients that support musculoskeletal health.
Vitamin D and calcium
Vitamin D is one of the top nutrients needed for bone health as it plays a role in bone growth and remodeling. This nutrient also assists with calcium absorption. Vitamin D deficiency tends to be more prevalent in infants who are breastfed, older adults, people who spend minimal time in the sun, individuals with darker skin, and those with obesity or conditions that limit fat absorption.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) supplies the recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes for vitamins and minerals. It also shares signs of nutritional deficiencies.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency, according to the ODS, include:
- soft or weak bones
- skeletal deformities
- bone pain
- jaw muscle spasms
- dental abnormalities
Children with a vitamin D deficiency may show additional signs, such as:
- failure to thrive
- developmental delays
Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth. It also helps keep soft tissues strong, yet flexible while supporting proper muscle function and nerve transmission. Postmenopausal women and individuals who avoid dairy are at risk of calcium deficiency.
Fragile or soft bones and increased falls are signs of calcium deficiency. When serum calcium levels fall below 8.5 mg/dL or ionized calcium levels drop under 4.62 mg/dL, this is referred to as hypocalcemia and can also be a sign of vitamin D or magnesium deficiency.
Signs of hypocalcemia include:
- numbness in the mouth
- tingling in the hands and feet
- muscle spasms
- mental health issues such as depression and bipolar disorder
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is important for central nervous system development and function. It also aids in the formation of healthy red blood cells.
When looking to identify nutritional deficiencies in regard to vitamin B12, these can include older adults, people who have pernicious anemia, those who’ve had gastrointestinal surgery or a gastrointestinal disorder, vegetarians, and infants of mothers who are vegan.
Here are a few signs of vitamin B12 deficiency:
- megaloblastic anemia, a form of anemia involving red blood cells
- low red and white blood cell counts
- a swollen and inflamed tongue, making it look smooth (glossitis)
- heart palpitations
- pale skin
- weight loss
- numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
Iron and vitamin K
Iron is critical for neurological development, muscle metabolism, and connective tissue health. It also supports cellular function and plays a role in the production of certain hormones.
Iron deficiency can be an issue for infants and young children, women who are pregnant or have heavy menstrual bleeding, people who frequently donate blood, and people with cancer, a gastrointestinal disorder, or heart failure.
While uncommon in the U.S., signs of iron deficiency include:
- gastrointestinal issues
- trouble concentrating
- impaired cognitive function
- poor immune function
- reduced work or physical activity performance
- diminished body temperature regulation
Vitamin K plays an important role in bone metabolism, mineralization, and turnover, while also being critical for blood clotting. To identify nutritional deficiencies here, groups who may have lower levels of vitamin K include people with malabsorption disorders and newborn babies who aren’t treated with this vitamin at birth.
Signs of vitamin K deficiency include excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging and bone weakness, the latter of which can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. If bones are weakened by osteoporosis, it can lead to fractures from minor falls or even minimal stressors such as lifting or coughing according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Identify nutritional deficiencies and make corrections in your patients
There are a few symptoms that can appear with a variety of nutritional deficiencies. One is general fatigue or feeling tired despite getting adequate sleep. If the patient won’t hold an adjustment, this could also signal that a deficiency is at play.
If you suspect that a patient has a nutritional deficiency, a blood test can either confirm the deficiency or rule it out. Suggesting that patients get this type of test can help them learn whether they need to adjust their diet or supplement regimen to get the needed nutrient.
Practitioners selling dietary supplements provide patients with easier access to the products they need while also enabling you to vet these products first for quality and safety assurances. Another benefit of selling supplements in-office is that it provides an additional revenue stream.