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7 Vitamin Deficiencies in Individuals with Eating Disorders

Photo: Supplements in Container

February 8, 2017 - By L.M.L. Turner

For individuals with Anorexia and Bulimia, deficiencies in various types of vitamins and minerals are common. These lowered levels can occur for a few reasons. Calorie restriction, a poor diet lacking in nutrient-rich foods, and excessive purging are all potential culprits, leading to an inadequate dietary intake and subsequent deficiencies. Read on to discover seven types of vitamins that are commonly lacking in patients with Restrictive Eating Disorders.

Magnesium

Magnesium is often deficient in individuals with both Anorexia and Bulimia. Low levels of this vitamin can lead to muscle tension, heart palpitations, and insomnia. Since purging--either orally, through the abuse of laxatives, or over-exercising--can lead to dangerous electrolyte imbalances, an individual's levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate should also be tested for deficiencies. 

Zinc

Patients with Anorexia often have low levels of zinc. A zinc deficiency affects the taste of food, causing it to be less appetizing. Once these levels are supplemented, meals should start to become more flavorful again, which may give a patient more incentive to eat and lessen their restrictive behaviors.

Vitamin B6, B12, and Folate

The supplementation of B vitamins, including B6, B12, and Folate, can also be beneficial toward the recovery from a Restrictive Eating Disorder. B6 is important because this vitamin plays a role in both mental and physical wellbeing. B6 is necessary for the metabolism of all nutrients, as well as the proper production of neurotransmitters in the brain, which work to stabilize mood and emotions. 

Folate and B12 are essential for the health and development of white and red blood cells. If an individual is suffering from a deficiency in their blood cells, known as macrocytic anemia, they may experience symptoms like fatigue, weakness, memory problems, and light-headedness. A lack of Folate has also been linked to depression, while not enough B12 can lead to permanent nerve damage. 

Vitamin D and Calcium

Both Vitamin D and Calcium are necessary for the maintenance of strong bones. Individuals with Anorexia often experience lowered bone density, which places them at increased risk of osteoporosis, osteopenia, and other bone-related disorders. Studies have shown that the combined consumption of Vitamin D and Calcium can improve bone health, even reversing some of the damage sustained by the patient.

Overall, vitamin deprivation can cause many unpleasant and harmful side effects, in regards to physical, mental, and emotional health. If you suffer from a Restrictive Eating Disorder, it's heavily advised to ask your doctor for a blood test. These tests can be done whether or not you are experiencing symptoms. Throughout your journey away from Anorexia or Bulimia, monitoring your physical health can help ensure that you reach a successful, stress-free, and sustained recovery.


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