Common Causes of Mystery Symptoms – Part 3 – Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

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Do you suffer from mystery symptoms and despite numerous trips to the doctor and countless tests, medical professionals can still find nothing wrong with you? You are not alone and you are not crazy. You are not alone and you are not crazy. In part three  of our series, we will investigate vitamin and mineral deficiencies  that may be causing your mystery symptoms. This way, you can determine what symptoms most closely resemble yours and be armed with knowledge for your next visit to the doctor.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world. Those who do not get enough vitamin D in their diet and from the sun often experience a wide variety of mystery symptoms that may be difficult to explain. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Muscle Pain/Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Osteopenia
  • Decreased Immunity
  • Frequent Colds & Flu
  • Cancer (Breast & Prostate)

If your mystery symptoms are related to vitamin D deficiency, solving them is very easy. Food sources of vitamin D are eggs, herring, cod liver oil, dried shiitake mushrooms, raw button mushrooms and sardines.

Also, sunlight is not as bad for you as you’ve been led to believe. Just fifteen minutes of sun exposure in the early morning or late afternoon is sufficient to absorb this essential nutrient. You may also choose to supplement your diet with 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. If you plan to take more, it is important to get blood levels checked for vitamin D deficiency in order to ensure accurate dosing.

Several years ago, I was told that my vitamin D levels were extremely low and have been on a supplement ever since and my health has improved dramatically!

Vitamin C

Are your mystery symptoms more mental than physical? If so, you might have a vitamin C deficiency. According to Dr. Leonard John Hoffer, author of “Vitamin Therapy in Schizophrenia”, schizophrenic patients are often found to be deficient in this vitamin, perhaps in part due to poor diet. He recommends up to 6 grams of vitamin C be taken to reduce schizophrenic symptoms. Other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Frequent Colds & Flu
  • Swollen & Bleeding Gums
  • Easy Bruising (Could also be caused by ITP)
  • Extremely Rough, Dry Skin
  • Wounds That Take a Long While to Heal
  • Depression
  • Mental Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations

Luckily, vitamin C deficiency is very easy to treat. If you believe your mystery symptoms are related to vitamin C deficiency, you can easily add it to your diet by eating more vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, squash, potatoes and dark leafy greens or with whole food supplements.

Omega 3

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning, the body cannot produce it on its own. There are plenty of mystery symptoms associated with this common deficiency. They include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry, Brittle Hair & Nails
  • Creaking, Popping Joints
  • Bowel Diseases (IBS, Crohn’s, etc.)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Learning Disabilities/ADHD
  • Mood Disorders/Behavioral Problems

In an ideal world, we would get the omega 3 we needed from fish. Unfortunately, most of the world’s waters are heavily contaminated with mercury and other harmful pollutants. Many people are now beginning to add fish oil to their diets and while the intentions are great, the source is not. Many people buy their fish oil in bulk, 90-180 caplets at a time and it often goes rancid before even half of it is taken. Industry experts recommend organic krill oil, purchased in no more than 60 caplets at a time for optimum omega 3 supplementation. Read more on the benefits of omega 3 krill oil.

Folic Acid 

If you have a bowel disease such as Crohn’s or have had part of your intestines removed, your mystery symptoms may be related to folic acid deficiency. This deficiency has a wide variety of mental and physical symptoms related to it. They include:

  • Difficulty Learning
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood Swings
  • Mania

Physical symptoms of folic acid deficiency are:

  • Anemia (Severe folic acid deficiency can lead to pernicious anemia)
  • Weakness/Fatigue
  • Pallor (Unusually pale skin)
  • Lack of Appetite/Weight Loss
  • Shortness of Breath with Exertion
  • Cracked Lips Around the Corners of Mouth
  • Diarrhea/Abdominal Pain
  • Sore, Smooth Tongue
  • Chest Pain/Irregular Heartbeat
  • Poor Balance

Most people with folic acid deficiency must take a supplement to correct it.

Note: Those who suffer with heartburn often take antacids, which can interfere with folic acid absorption. Instead of antacids, try pink salt, or a hydrochloric acid supplement. Read more about natural remedies to treat heartburn.


Iron deficiency often causes iron-deficient anemia. Those with this deficiency often experience the following symptoms:

  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Dizziness Upon Standing
  • Headache
  • Poor Circulation
  • Pale Skin, Gums and Nail Beds
  • Mouth Soreness & Fissures at Corners of Mouth
  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms such as Heartburn, Flatulence & Abdominal Pain
  • Chest Pain
  • Tingling in Extremities
  • Brain Fog

Vegetarians, women with heavy periods or women using an intrauterine device (IUD) to prevent pregnancy are more at risk for developing iron deficiency. In extreme cases, iron deficient anemia can lead to the need for a blood transfusion. Supplementing the diet with whole food iron supplements should be enough for most people, however. If symptoms are severe, see your doctor immediately.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K helps the body coagulate blood properly. If you’ve taken multiple rounds of oral antibiotics, have celiac disease, Crohn’s, gallbladder disease or kidney disease, you may be at higher risk for vitamin K deficiency. Symptoms of this vitamin deficiency include:

  • Easy Bruising
  • Gum/Nose Bleeding
  • Excessive Menstrual Bleeding
  • Blood in Stool (Could be caused by bowel disease)
  • Blood in Urine
  • Osteopenia/Osteoporosis (Also caused by Vitamin D deficiency)
  • Bone Fractures
  • Thrombocytopenia/ITP
  • Liver Cancer
  • Calcification of Heart Valves

Increase dietary intake of vitamin K by eating kale, collard greens and spinach. Turnips are also rich in this necessary nutrient. If you feel your mystery symptoms are associated with a deficiency in this vitamin, turn to 65mg of vitamin K supplement for woman and 80mg for men.


Niacin or vitamin B3 deficiency can also cause strange symptoms. Common symptoms of niacin deficiency are:

  • Fatigue/Muscle Weakness
  • Depression
  • Canker Sores
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Mental Disturbances

A severe form of niacin deficiency is called pellagra. Those with pellagra exhibit the above symptoms along with:

  • Red, Swollen Tongue
  • Dry, Cracked Skin
  • Severe Diarrhea
  • Dementia

Tryptophan is an amino acid the body converts to niacin. It can be found in dietary sources such as poultry, dairy products and red meat. Dietary sources of niacin are red meat, eggs, green vegetables and beans. Those with a severe niacin deficiency may benefit from using a supplement. It is important to remember niacin can cause flushing and should be taken at a low dose and gradually increased.


Zinc is one of the most essential minerals to the body because although it does not have any specific purpose on its own, it is responsible for regulating normal enzymatic function throughout the body. Those who have a zinc deficiency may experience:

  • Menstrual Irregularities (could be caused by thyroid disease as well)
  • Fertility Problems/Loss of Libido
  • Hyperactivity/Behavioral Problems
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Hair Loss/Dandruff
  • Nail Cuticle Inflammation
  • White Spots on Fingernails/Transverse Lines/Poor Nail Growth
  • Bowel Diseases
  • Skin Conditions such as dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and acne
  • Anemia

If you believe zinc deficiency is causing the mystery symptoms you’re experiencing, increase your intake of food such as peas, oysters, nuts, meat products, eggs, oats, pumpkin seeds and whole wheat grains. You may also choose to supplement your diet with a chelated zinc supplement.


The mineral potassium is important for proper muscle, nervous system and circulatory function. Hypokalemia, or potassium deficiency has a number of symptoms associated with it, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness/Cramps
  • Slow Reflexes
  • Dry Skin
  • Unexplainable Chills
  • Unquenchable Thirst
  • Insomnia/Irritability/Anxiety
  • Mental Confusion
  • Glucose Intolerance
  • Diarrhea/Nausea/Vomiting

High cholesterol is also a sign of potassium deficiency, though it can be caused by other factors. In extreme cases, potassium deficiency can lead to cardiac arrest. Prolonged fasting, excessive use of laxatives and/or diuretics can lead to deficiency in this mineral. Alcoholics are also at risk for this and other vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Increase intake of potassium through food sources such as baked potatoes, raisins, lima beans, spinach, winter squash, bananas, dried apricots, dates, figs and tomato products. Those with a severe deficiency may choose to take a supplement.


Do you suffer from a mental illness? You may be magnesium deficient. Deficiencies in this trace mineral are quite common and can lead to a host of mystery symptoms that are difficult to diagnose. These include:

  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety/Phobias/Irritability
  • Behavioral Problems
  • Sensitivity to Light & Sound
  • Muscle Twitches/Cramping
  • Trembling
  • Allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Severe PMS

Magnesium, as well as vitamin D, is also essential to good bone health. Foods rich in magnesium include dark, leafy greens, beans, legumes, buckwheat, tea, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, halibut and potato. Most people with a magnesium deficiency, however, benefit best from adding a chelated magnesium supplement to the diet.

If you’ve been suffering from mystery symptoms for a long while and one or more of the above vitamin or mineral deficiencies seem to apply to you, begin adding supplements to your diet. It is much harder to get the nutrients needs from food alone since environmental toxins and pollution makes soil much more depleted than it was one hundred years ago. Adding whole food supplements to your diet may be all you need to solve your mystery symptoms and live the healthy life you deserve! Learn more about the difference between commercial vitamins and whole food supplements.

If none of these sound like what you’re going through, we’re not done yet. In our next installment we will discuss how the toxins in your home and workplace can cause mystery symptoms. Don’t give up. No matter what you’ve heard from doctors, friends, co-workers and family, you’re not crazy and it’s not all in your head. Once you get to the bottom of your mystery symptoms, you’ll be able to hold your head high and proclaim, “I told you I was sick!”

Next: Part 4 of The Common Causes of Mystery Symptoms

About Author: Jaime A. Heidel
  • Sirena Seigle

    Wow. I had never thought of it this way. I was diagnosed with S.A.D. years ago. I wonder if vitamin D would help? Wonderful article! Keep up the great work!

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  • john

    i’ve just had potassium deficiency (and sodium) and had to go to the hospital but they found out because i was depressed and anxious and could not sleep for days!!!! thank god i did that blood test because i though about suicide and stuff like that its crazy how these things effect your mood and you GOD!! NOW I CAN FINALLY SLEEP!!

  • admin

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you found out what was wrong with you and can finally get some much-needed rest! Sometimes it’s the simplest things that cause the worst problems.


  • Kim

    Enjoyed this article. Beautiful website. Thank you and best wishes to you.

  • vinayak


    How much time does it take to completely recover from Vitamin D deficiency and its symptoms?

  • admin

    Hello Vinayak,

    That’s a very good question. I can’t remember how long it took me. I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency back in 2007 or 2008. I believe I noticed an increase in energy right away but I also made other changes at that time with supplements and stopped using a microwave to cook me food and THAT made my energy levels increase almost immediately. It was incredible. I would get with a naturopathic doctor in your area to get some advice.

    Thank you for your comment!


  • Nicolette

    Hi Jaime!
    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been diagnosed with vitamin b12 deficiency.. I used to take injections and tablets… but the symptoms faded… for the time being and now they’re back! Twice as bad. But after reading ur article i feel it could also be an iron deficiency. Keep posting! 🙂 it was nice to read. Very informative…

  • admin

    Thanks Nikole,

    It’s amazing how something as simple as a vitamin deficiency can make you feel so horrible. Conventional doctors are too quick to write a prescription instead of looking for a cause.

    I’m glad you narrowed it down.


  • saurabh garg

    can somebody solve my problem
    i had a panic attack before one year because of high alcholism,
    after that i am keep thinking about that and because of this i feel anxiety everyday.
    since last week i was having bananas,almonds and cashews & my condition is better but i want to completely get rid of this.

  • admin

    Hello Saurabh,

    If you’ve stopped using alcohol to self-medicate for your anxiety, you should start to feel better once you get your body back in balance. Drink plenty of water and eat a whole-food diet. Magnesium-rich foods can help a lot with anxiety:

    If your anxiety continues, you may want to visit with a naturopathic doctor for more drug-free options.

    I wish you the best.


  • Brittany

    B12 is cyanocobalamine not folic acid

  • admin

    Thanks! Fixed.

  • Andrea

    “I have considerd myself sick for four years but looking back the last full year that i was still well enough to continue worki g, (i was a “thriving” healthy physical/personal Athletic trainer) there were the early signs & symptoms. And wow!! Stunning to find old neurology labs that indicate the b12 deficiancy & the MUCH RARER RIBOFLAVIN deficiency all the way back in 2009!! My doctors have all remarked that the fact im able to hold a gaze, walk, talk. Are astounding. My primary himself had personal experiance with an alcoholic Beriberi disease sufferer whos Thiamin levels far exceeded mine, and the patient was in full brain damage/ retardation mode at those levels.  After four years of decline we have finally found this unknown of, unexplainable deficiancy of nutrients my body needs to survive. This widespread micronutrient deficiancy. Including but NOT LIMITED TO vitamin a, All of the Bs, D, E, K, you get the picture. I have sufferd rapid neuron death & am currently attempting to survive on IV vitamins. But its a TRICKY business, that no one seems to know much IF ANYTHING ABOUT… Just thought it couldnt hurt to put my VERY UNIQUE condition… “

  • admin


    That must be so difficult for you to go through. I’m really sorry. I think you’re on the right track, though. Has your doctor ever talked to you about juicing to address your nutritional issues in addition to the IV treatment or afterward?


  • JC

    I have just stumbled upon this site and have not had a chance to read anymore of it yet, but I just wanted to say thank you for publishing this. I have been very sick for 2+ months now…and previously was a very active and healthy mother of 2 (ages 4 and 2). My life has changed overnight and I have been to 8 doctors, in and out of the ER several times, had GI colonoscopy and endscopy,had pelvic and abdominal ultrasounds, been to GYN, had an insane amount of blood draws,currently have been shuffled to infectious disease specialist and tests are out waiting on results for EBV/mono or CMV infection. This started for me 2+ months ago like a virus with fever, chills, body aches, shaky…that passed after about 4 days but then I have had horrible morning nausea (NOT pregnant), some bowel symptoms but only first thing in the morning, no energy/fatigue. I did have a 2-3 week intermission where I felt better but never great after the first 10 days, but the last month and a half it has not let up. It also all started with my period, and came back the second time again with my period but then never left…and did not get worse with my 3rd period. My life has been reduced to the couch and I am missing my kids’ lives!! I feel like I am getting depressed on top of everything now because my quality of life has been so diminished. I just do not understand how I can go from so healthy, eating fairly clean diet, exercising at least 4 days per week, running 5ks, taking my kids to activities and having fun with them… to this. I will keep looking through your website and will talk more to my naturopath about anything that sounds like it could fit. I am desperate to feel normal again and have life back!

  • admin


    I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. You say it happened overnight? Do you remember anything that could have caused it? Did you take any new medications, eat anything new or travel anywhere? Were you sick with any type of virus that just now isn’t going away? Have you been checked for thyroid disease of any kind? What are your symptoms?

    I really would like to try to help you if possible.

    I wish you the best. Keep fighting. You’re not alone and you’re not crazy!

    Love and light,


  • Rhonda

    My daughter suffers from lower back pain,poor vision that is getting worse, pale skin when she use to be very tan, bruises easily and has very bad hand tremors and is tired all the time even after sleeping for 10 or more hours. She feels so bad. Once was diagnosed with anemia but treatment didnt seem to work.

  • admin

    Hi Rhonda,

    Have you had her evaluated for thyroid disease? I would suggest taking her to a naturopathic physician to get a complete blood workup to see what the doctor you’re seeing might be missing. ITP causes easy bruising but I’m not sure about the eye problems. Diabetes could cause that. I work with an osteopathic physician who will do phone consultations if that would be more convenient for you:

    I wish you and your daughter the best.


  • Teresa

    Problems that get worse with your period indicate oestrogen dominance ime & that points to mineral deficiencies Selenium, Iodine, Zinc, Magnesium all raise progesterone (To name a few, certain more exist to)

    I’m at the begining stages learning all this, nice site btw

  • admin

    Thanks, Teresa

  • Teresa

    You’re welcome love 😀