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It’s pretty much common knowledge that vitamins are essential; what’s less known is how important they are, and what sort of symptoms arise if you’re experiencing a deficiency. A lack of specific vitamins can cause some significant skin changes, such as patches of dry looking skin, or lots of wrinkles, like skin that has been damaged by the sun. Some deficiencies, namely the B Vitamins, may result in rashes, sores, or itching. Skin may become cracked or brittle, which may make it painful to move, or painful to the touch. Changes in skin pigmentation may also develop in some cases.

In some ways, the skin is the body’s most important organ; after all, it is the protective barrier that shields the vulnerable cells inside the body from damage and infection. Socially speaking, good skin is appealing for a number of reasons. Problems with your skin can not only be embarrassing, but they can be signs of severe health problems within. Furthermore, skin problems can leave the rest of the body at greater risk. After all, healthy skin is what protects the rest of the body, and if it is damaged, then the body becomes incredibly vulnerable to exposure, infection, and injury.

With that in mind, it’s important to keep the skin healthy; this means keeping it clean, handling wounds properly (cleaning, bandaging), moisturizing the skin, and taking proper precautions when dealing with the weather. However, don’t just focus on taking care of the skin directly; a proper diet will give your skin much of the materials it needs to function at peak efficiency. If you’re missing out on key vitamins and minerals, sometimes they will manifest in symptoms that include changes in your skin. Read on to find out more about specific Vitamin deficiencies and the effects they have on the body.

9. Vitamin A

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A fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin A contributes to the health of various parts of the body, including the eyes, the teeth and bones, mucous membranes, and skin. It is involved in a large number of metabolic processes that keep the body functioning at its best. For best results, it’s recommended that women take in 700 mcg of Vitamin A daily, while men should push for 900. If a deficiency occurs, it may result in dry skin, dry lips, and night blindness.

Fortunately, there are a large number of foods that supply the body with Vitamin A. Some of them include carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, and peaches, which are rich in beta-carotene. Otherwise, there are leafy green vegetables, also a strong source of B Vitamins and Vitamin D, such as kale, collards, and spinach. Other options include meat, eggs, and fish, along with fortified dairy products and fish oils. However, these sources tend to be a little bit on the fattier side, so be careful.

8. Vitamin D

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When most people think of Vitamin D, they think of bone health. True, Vitamin D is vital for bone health, but it also offers other benefits, and deficiencies can lead to hair loss, aging skin, slow wound healing, and fatigue, as well as brittle bones. A deficiency may also contribute to psoriasis, given that when vitamin D is topically applied, it can help to mitigate the condition. Adults should aim for 15mcg of Vitamin D daily. Ideally, this should come from cholecalciferol, commonly known as D3 in supplement form. It is thought to be more effectively absorbed than D2 supplements.

Believe it or not, sunlight exposure can cause your skin to create vitamin D; however, it’s important to keep in mind the sun can cause sunburns, cancer, and skin aging, so it is best to moderate exposure to the sun. Aside from the aforementioned supplements, Vitamin D can also be found in saltwater fish, egg yolks, and liver; furthermore, some foods are fortified with Vitamin D to make it easier to obtain. These include dairy products and some cereals.

Related: This Type of Vitamin D Is Twice as Effective as the One You’re Taking

7. Vitamin E

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Another fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin E is responsible for fighting damage caused by free radicals. It works as an antioxidant in the body, protecting the cells from pollution, sunlight, and other potentially damaging influences that would, if left unchecked, disrupt the body’s cells. You might think of it as the front-line defense that bolsters your skin against damage caused by the sun; a deficiency removes this protection, which may then result in skin aging, or wrinkles. 15 mg daily is the recommended level of Vitamin E for adults.

Typically, Vitamin E is acquired from dietary sources such as nuts and oils. Specifically, you can find it in almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts; otherwise, safflower, wheat germ, and sunflower oils may also contribute. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, in addition to providing Vitamin A, can also supply the body with some level of Vitamin E.

6. Vitamin C

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While we typically associate Vitamin C with the health of the immune system, it is also quite beneficial for the skin, the body’s first line of defense. It is important for synthesizing collagen, which is the protein that shores up your skin, keeping it healthy. A shortage of Vitamin C generally means more frequent infections; however, because of Vitamin C’s role in healthy skin, a deficiency may also cause skin bruising, or rashes, which are symptoms of scurvy. Muscle pain is another symptom. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C comes to 90mg for men and 75mg for women.

Fortunately, there are a large number of fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C. The fruits with the greatest abundance tend to be citrus fruits, including kiwis, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, and so on. Other sources include vegetables like cabbage, bell peppers, and spinach.

Related:10 Early Signs to Warn You About Vitamin C Deficiency

5. Vitamin B2

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Also known as Riboflavin, Vitamin B2 is primarily responsible for creating energy from food. However, it also contributes to strong vision and healthy skin. Adults should strive to get between 1mg and 1.5mgs of Vitamin B2 daily (1.1 for women; 1.3 for men). A deficiency here may result in redness of the skin, as well as the appearance of skin rashes or cracks, particularly found in the corners of the mouth. Hair loss is another symptom that may occur.

Vitamin B2 can be acquired from both dairy and vegetable sources; leafy greens like chard, collard and spinach qualify, as do milk, yogurt, cheese. Wholegrain cereals and some organ meats also contribute.

4. Vitamin B3

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Niacin, another B vitamin, likewise generates energy for the body. Specifically, Niacin converts the body’s fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy the body can use. It plays a part in keeping the skin in good condition, and also supports some of the body’s systems, such as the nervous and digestive systems. 16 mg daily is recommended for men, while women should take 14mg of Niacin. A deficiency of Vitamin B3 can be very unpleasant; this is because it will cause some of the symptoms of dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea. Altogether, this is a condition known as pellagra.

Pellagra can also result in the swelling of the tongue, as well as scaly sores on the skin. If left untreated, this condition can eventually become fatal. This is why it is very important to correct a niacin deficiency as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to do so. Niacin sources include fish, poultry, eggs, mushrooms, and nuts. Wholegrain cereals also contribute.

3. Vitamin B6

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Vitamin B6, like the other B vitamins, plays a role in the health of the skin as well as other parts of the body. A shortage of Vitamin B6 can lead to painful, itchy rashes, unsightly flaking skin, and like a Vitamin B2 shortage, crack formation at the corners of the mouth. Generally, 1.3mg is the accepted RDA, but as you age, you may need to increase this amount; Specifically, a slight increase in dosage over the age of 51 is recommended.

Like many of the B Vitamins, B6 can be acquired from fish, eggs, and poultry; however, it can also be found in starch-heavy vegetables such as potatoes, yams, and jicama.

2. Vitamin B7

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Otherwise known as Biotin, Vitamin B7 also contributes to the body’s metabolism, and the synthesis of fat, and glycogen. Among vitamins, Biotin is among the rarest to have a deficiency, given it comes from numerous sources. Only 30 mcg of Biotin is all that an adult requires daily. Biotin deficiencies may be caused by eating raw egg whites, which can inhibit Biotin absorption. If such a deficiency occurs, it may manifest much like dermatitis, or dry skin. It may also be accompanied by loss of hair and appetite, as well as fatigue, and muscle pain.

In the event that a deficiency does arise, Vitamin B7 can be found in peanuts, egg yolks, mushrooms, and cauliflower, all of which are fairly common foods in the diet.

1. Vitamin B12

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Cyanocobalamin, better known as Vitamin B12, supports the nervous and circulatory systems by protecting the health of red blood cells and nerve cells. It also plays a role in DNA construction. Ideally, an adult should have 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 daily. Otherwise, one might experience fatigue or shortness of breath; this generally occurs because, without sufficient B12, the body cannot make a high enough volume of red blood cells to carry oxygen and other nutrients where they need to go. This condition is known as pernicious anemia and may lead to vitiligo, characterized by white patches on the skin.

While pernicious anemia can be a serious condition if it is left untreated, fortunately, it is easily avoided with a proper diet. Cyanocobalamin can be found in the company of protein; for example, organ meats (and meat in general), dairy products, and eggs all are sources of Vitamin B12. If you are diagnosed with pernicious anemia, however, you may require a higher dosage of B12, typically in shot or pill form, to remedy the situation.

While vitamin deficiencies can be unsightly, and worse, have serious consequences, fortunately, they are also relatively easy to avoid, and to resolve. In general, a balanced diet with modest levels of meats and dairy, along with lots of fruits and vegetables, will prevent the average person from developing any serious deficiency. Otherwise, practicing proper skincare and making smart decisions outdoors will take care of the rest. For those with restricted diets, supplements are another option, though generally, natural food sources are the best way to get the most out of your vitamins.

Related: Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Silently Eroding Your Nerve Health?

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