Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

Catherine Liberty's picture

When you have bulimia you often have an inadequate dietary intake of vitamins either because you experience episodes of food restriction and don’t eat enough nutrient rich foods or because purging means your body is not able to absorb the vitamins and minerals that it needs in order to function properly.

When your body is deprived of a specific vitamin (or many vitamins) you can experience a lot of nasty side effects as a result.  

Below you will find a list of essential vitamins together with sings that indicate deficiencies...

You may or may not have heard of a lot of these vitamins before, but making sure you get enough of them is essential to recovery and well-being.

To ensure your body is receiving the essential nutrients it needs during recovery vitamin and mineral supplements can be taken, but please consult your doctor before doing so.

As the ultimate aim will always be to get the nutrients you need from the food you eat we’ve put together some useful information on foods that contain each of the essential vitamins.

If you have more questions relating to the types of foods you should be eating in recovery then why not sign up for support from our nutritionist who can help to advise you on your structured eating plan.

Vitamin A (beta carotene)

Deficiency Symptoms:  If you lack Vitamin A you may have some teeth damage due to bulima. is essential for bones and teeth and it also protects against colds and flu. Common deficiency symptoms include acne, allergies, loss of appetite, blindness, cancer susceptibility, colds, decreased immune system function, dry hair, eye sties, fatigue, insomnia, impaired growth, itching and burning eyes, loss of smell, night blindness, dry skin and sinus trouble.

Main Body Parts Affected: Bones, eyes, hair, immune system, skin, soft tissues and teeth.

Foods that contain Vitamin A

Fish, liver, green and yellow fruits and vegetables, apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, butter, cantaloupe, carrots, cheese, garlic, green olives, milk products, fresh mustard, papaya, parsley, peaches, prunes, red peppers, sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkin, watercress.

Vitamin B Complex

Deficiency Symptoms: A deficiency in vitamin B complex can contribute to electrolyte imbalances and emotional problems such as depression, anxiety and erratic mood swings. Experts believing these specific deficiencies can contribute to the onset of bulimia. Other symptoms include Acne, anaemia, appetite loss (or increase in binge urges in people with bulimia), bad breath, constipation, dark tongue colour, digestive disturbances, fatigue, dry hair and hair loss, high cholesterol, hypertension, immune system problems, insomnia, tender or painful leg muscles, memory loss, nervousness, nervous system disorders, dry or rough skin, poor circulation and problems with muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and the liver.

Main Body Parts Affected: All cells, eyes, gastrointestinal tract, hair, liver, mouth, nervous system and the skin.

Foods that contain Vitamin B Complex

Cheese, eggs, milk, all meat and poultry, nuts, broccoli, beans, brown rice, cabbage, cauliflower, fish, oatmeal, raisins, spinach, asparagus, peanut butter, brussel sprouts, whole grains, yogurt.

Vitamin B12

Deficiency Symptoms: Many people with bulimia suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency due to lack of nutrient absorption. Symptoms include appetite loss, reduced reflex responses, fatigue, hallucinations, irritability, memory impairment, memory loss, mental depression and confusion, nervousness, pernicious anaemia, unpleasant body odour, walking and speaking difficulties, weakness in arms and legs and various complications with digestion and absorption of food.

Main Body Parts Affected: Liver, nerves, red blood cells and the gastrointestinal tract.

Foods that contain Vitamin B12

Beef, cheese, clams, crab, fish, eggs, herring, kidney, liver, mackerel, milk, other milk products, pork, seafood, tofu. Please note that vitamin B12 is NOT found in vegetables, only in animal sources.

Vitamin C

Deficiency Symptoms: Vitamin C helps to prevent infection, improves immunity and can even help to prevent cancer. Symptoms of deficiency include anaemia, bleeding gums, bruising easily, dental cavities, low immunity, muscle deterioration , nosebleeds, poor digestion, shortness of breath, stress, weakened cartilages, blood clots and slow healing wounds.

Main Body Parts Affected: Adrenal glands, blood, bones, capillary walls, cells, connective tissue (including skin, ligaments, bones and gums), heart, mucous membranes, nervous system and teeth.

Foods that contain Vitamin C

Green vegetables, berries, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, asparagus, broccoli, beef liver, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, mangos, peppers, pineapple, radishes, spinach, strawberries, and tomatoes. You can find vitamin C in just about all fresh fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin D

Deficiency Symptoms: One of the main roles of vitamin D is to improve levels of immunity, if you are deficient in it then symptoms can include brittle and fragile bones, burning in mouth and throat, diarrhoea, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, low blood calcium, myopia, nervousness, pale skin, poor metabolism, rickets, sensitivity to pain, soft bones and teeth, osteoporosis , osteopenia and hypocalcaemia.

Main Body Parts Affected: Bones, heart, kidneys, nervous system, skin, teeth and the thyroid gland.

Foods that contain Vitamin D

There are very few food sources of Vitamin D - most vitamin D is synthesised by sunlight on the skin. Foods that contain some Vitamin D are salmon, sardines, tuna, eggs, oatmeal, sweet potato and any dairy or other products that are fortified with vitamin D such as butter, and milk. 

Vitamin E

Deficiency Symptoms: Vitamin E helps to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts and can help reduce the amount of scaring that wounds leave on the skin. Symptoms of deficiency can include enlarged prostate gland (in men), gastrointestinal disease, dry hair, hair loss, impotency, miscarriages, muscular wasting, muscle weakness, decreased circulation, slow tissue healing and leg cramps.

Main Body Parts Affected: Arteries, blood vessels, heart, lungs, nerves, pituitary glands and skin.

Foods that contain Vitamin E

Vegetable oils, whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables, almonds, peanuts, seeds, spinach, herring, kale, brown rice, cornmeal, eggs, milk, oatmeal, organ meats, sweet potatoes, soy beans, unrefined cereal and wheat germ.

Vitamin K

Deficiency Symptoms: Vitamin K plays an essential role in blood clotting and bone formation andis also essential for converting blood glucose into glycogen that is then stored in the liver. If you have a vitamin K deficiency you may experience brittle or fragile bones, poor blood clotting and high glucose in blood.

Main Body Parts Affected: Blood, bones, metabolism and liver function.

Foods that contain Vitamin K

Alfalfa, broccoli, soybeans, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, egg yolks, liver, oatmeal, rye, wheat and any other dark green leafy vegetables.

Folic Acid

Deficiency Symptoms: Folic acid is needed for energy production, protein metabolism, the production of red blood cells and is vital for normal growth and development. A deficiency in folic acid can contribute t depression, anxiety, B12 deficiencies, birth defects (in pregnant women), and excessive fatigue.

Main Body Parts Affected: Metabolism, red blood cells, overall growth and development and nerves.

Foods that contain Folic Acid

Beans, beef, bran, barley, brown rice, cheese, chicken, dates, green leafy vegetables, lamb, lentils, liver, milk, oranges, organ meats, split peas, pork, root vegetables, salmon, tuna, whole grains, whole wheat and yeast.

The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.


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