Deficiency Symptoms

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By Walter Last

Walter Last combines the training and work experience of Research Chemist Biochemist and Toxicologist with that of Practicing Nutritionist and Natural Therapist.

He was born and grew up in Germany and has held positions in medical institutions at the Universities of Greifswald, Cologne and Munich, working in research and toxicological investigations.

He was Chief Forensic Chemist at Cologne and worked at Bio-Science Laboratories in Los Angeles.

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency Symptoms

Eye, hair, nail, mouth and skin symptoms are among the early outward warning signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The following compilations may help in diagnosing and treating these deficiencies. However, increased metabolic requirements for indicated deficiencies may persist for a long time after the outward symptoms have disappeared. Many listed symptoms may also be caused or aggravated by allergies and problems with the blood sugar and fat metabolism.

The right-hand column gives the primary deficiencies first, additional treatment or cause is given in parentheses. For each condition only the more prominent nutrients are mentioned. However, all the typical nutrients should be supplied in increased amounts in the treatment of all conditions.

Eye-deficiency Symptoms Deficiency / treatment
Bitot's spots - foamy patches on conjunctiva vitamin A
Bloodshot eyes boric acid for fungus infection, blue light
Blurred vision vitamins B2, B6, pantothenic acid
Bulging eyes vitamin E, nicotinamide, iodine
Cataracts (lens becomes opaque) vitamins B2, C, E, antioxidants (avoid lactose)
Color-blindness vitamin A
Conjunctivitis vitamins A, B2, C (B6, zinc)
Cross-eyes vitamins E, C, B1, (allergy testing)
Dark spots in front of the eyes vitamins B6, C, zinc (liver problems)
Dim vision (amblyopia) vitamins B1, B2, C, B12 (allergy testing)
Dry, hard eyeballs (xerophthalmia) vitamin A
Farsightedness (hyperopia) magnesium, potassium, MSM
Glaucoma magnesium, vitamin C (B2, B1,salt)
Hemorrhaging in the back of the eye (retinitis) vitamin B6, zinc, bioflavonoids (also magnesium, vitamins C, B2, B12, E, pantothenate)
Infected, ulcerating eyes (keratomalacia) vitamin A (vitamins C, B2, B6, zinc, blue light, boric acid)
Itching, burning, watery, sandy eyes vitamin B2
Macular degeneration vitamins A, B2, B6, magnesium, zinc, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, esp. lutein & zeaxanthin, ginkgo biloba, bilberry, eyebright, MSM, EFA
Near-sightedness (myopia) chromium, vitamins C, E, D, calcium (proteins, avoid sugars)
Night blindness (nyctalopia) vitamins A, (B2, B6, zinc)
Red blood vessels in the sclera vitamin B2
Retinal detachment zinc, vitamins B6, B2, C, E, A
Sensitive eyes, fear of strong light (photophobia) vitamins B2, A
Tics of eyelids magnesium, vitamins B2, B6, zinc


Skin-deficiency Symptoms Deficiency / Treatment / Cause
Acne vitamins A, E, B2, B6, C, niacin, biotin, zinc, EFA*, lecithin, MSM, retinoic acid topically (minimize sweet food & fats)
Addison's disease - adrenal exhaustion: increased tanning, especially on skin-folds, scars, elbows, knees; black freckles all B vitamins, especially pantothenic acid; vitamin C; all minerals, digestive enzymes, allergy testing, avoid sweet food
Arterial spiders (fine branching arteries on face, neck, chest) antioxidants, bioflavonoids, glucosamine, cartilage, calcium
Bedsores vitamins C, E
Blisters vitamin E
Brown discoloration around small joints vitamin B12
Brown skin spots antioxidants (weak liver)
Dry skin vitamins A, C, EFA
Eczema, skin ulcers vitamin C, B2, B6, zinc, magnesium, EFA, allergy test, cleanse
Eczema, infantile EPA, zinc, vitamin B6
Edema vitamin B6, zinc (also vitamin C, magnesium, avoid salt)
Fingers white, numb, stiff, swellings (Raynaud's disease) vitamins B6, B1, antioxidants, niacin, magnesium/calcium, EFA
Fungus infections (e.g. athlete's foot, ringworm) B vitamins, (external tea tree oil, intestinal sanitation)
Gangrene vitamins C, E, B1 , magnesium chloride, (urine packs)
Greasy dermatitis around eyes, nose vitamin B6, zinc
Greasy skin eruptions (seborrhea) vitamin B2
Horny red skin on pressure areas (e.g. knees, elbows) zinc (vitamin B6)
Hot flushes vitamin E, boron, magnesium, calcium (Wild Yam cream)
Ichthyosis (fish-like scales) vitamin A, retinoic acid topically, MSM
Infant dermatitis with inflamed pustules around body openings vitamin B6, zinc
Infections of the skin (boils, cold sores, impetigo, and so on) vitamins C, A, B6, zinc, magnesium chloride (hot Epsom-salt packs, tea tree oil or propolis rubs)
Itching vitamins B, C, EFA, alkalizer, bicarbonate rubs, (allergy tests)
Jaundice vitamins C, E, A, B12, B6, lecithin, magnesium, zinc (blue light therapy, treat gall bladder & liver)
Keratosis, horny, goose-pimple-like skin vitamin A internally & externally
Lemon-yellow skin vitamin B12
Oily skin, white-heads vitamin B2
Over-sensitivity to sunlight vitamin B6, zinc, PABA, beta-carotene, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, alkalizers
Pale skin biotin, folic acid, vitamin B6, , iron (anemia)
Prickly-heat rash vitamin C
Psoriasis as for acne; blue light, sunlight; avoid gluten
Purplish or blue-black skin areas vitamin C, B2, bioflavonoids
Rash allergy test, alkalizers, vitamin C, calcium
Red-brown, often symmetrical discoloration of skin exposed to the sun, later ulceration niacin or nicotinamide (folic acid)
Red-brown or dark-red spots manganese
Rosacea (redness of part of face) vitamin B2
Scaly dermatitis biotin
Scaly eczema around nose, ears, scrotum, vulva vitamin B2
Scar tissue vitamin E, MSM externally & internally, camphorated oil rub
Scleroderma (hardening and swelling of skin) vitamin E, C, A, PABA, MSM, magnesium chloride (zapper, pulser and parasite therapy, tea tree oil packs)
Sensitivity to insect bites vitamin C, B1, calcium, alkalizers, bicarbonate rub/bath
Shingles vitamins B12, C, A, B, E, zinc, lysine, zinc oxide lotion, zapper
Skin cancer vitamins A, B6, PABA, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, carotenes, chlorophyll, propolis, zinc (blue light, escharotics)
Skin-folds red, infected niacin
Stretch-marks vitamins E, B6, zinc
Subcutaneous bleeding (red or purplish spots under the skin, bruises easily) vitamin C, bioflavonoids and rutin, grape seed extract, glucosamine, alkalizer
Swellings (for example, face) zinc, magnesium, vitamins B6, B12
Vaginal itching vitamins B2, E, C (avoid synthetic underwear, treat Candida)
Warts, moles vitamins C, A, E
Weals on the skin (urticaria) vitamin B6, zinc, vitamin C, (alkalizer, allergy test)
White skin patches (vitiligo) PABA, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, zinc
Wrinkles or aging skin vitamins C, E, A, EFA, bioflavonoids (too much sun)
Note: Most skin conditions benefit from external as well as internal application of the indicated nutrients. Retinioc acid is the acid form of vitamin A. EFA means essential fatty acids, mainly linoleic and linolenic acid; recommended are ground-linseed, linseed oil, fish oils and Evening-primrose oil.


Hair and Nail Deficiency Symptoms Deficiency / treatment / cause
Coarse, brittle hair zinc
Dandruff vitamins B2, B6, zinc, magnesium, biotin
Dry hair vitamin A, zinc
Graying hair folic acid, pantothenic acid, PABA, biotin, minerals (weak adrenals, avoid sweet food)
Hangnails vitamin C, folic acid, proteins
Hair loss copper/lead contamination: use zinc, vitamin B6, sulfur (MSM), selenium, biotin
Nails opaque, white spots/bands zinc, vitamin B6
Oily hair vitamin B2
Peeling nails vitamins A, C, calcium
Ridges on nails, longitudinal vitamin A, protein, calcium (anemia, poor circulation, thyroid/parathyroid glands)
Ridges on nails, transverse fever, infection, inflammation, menstrual problems, period of protein deficiency
Scaling of cuticle or lips biotin
Note: With graying hair or hair loss improve the circulation to the scalp, e.g. daily inversion such as headstand, shoulder-stand, hanging upside down or using a slant-board. Also vigorously rubbing nourishing or slightly irritating solutions into the scalp, e.g. fresh grass or vegetable juice, MSM with copper salicylate, ginger juice.


Tongue and Mouth Deficiency Symptoms Deficiency / treatment / cause
Beefy, enlarged tongue pantothenic acid
Burning, sore tongue vitamins B2, B6, B12, niacin
Cracked lips & corners of the mouth (cheilosis) vitamins B2, B6, folic acid
Distended, purplish-blue veins under the tongue vitamin B2 (circulation poor, congested)
Edema or tooth-marks on tongue niacin/nicotinamide
Furrowed tongue vitamin B1, pantothenic acid
Gums receding, bleeding (gingivitis) vitamin C, bioflavonoids, calcium, alkalizers
Halitosis (bad breath) vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium, propolis, chlorophyll (cleansing, intestinal sanitation)
Mouth ulcers, canker folic acid, vitamin B6, zinc (alkalize, allergy test)
Papillae prominent or erased niacin/nicotinamide
Purplish or magenta tongue or lips, also veins under the tongue vitamin B2
Tongue red at tip or edges; severe deficiency: whole tongue scarlet red, sore niacin (vitamin B6)
Tongue shiny, smooth, beefy; early sign: strawberry-red tip/sides vitamin B12, folic acid
Tongue too small or too large niacin, pantothenic acid
White-coated tongue intestinal putrefaction, cleansing
White patches on tongue vitamin B2 and other B vitamins (allergy)
Yellowish-brown-coated tongue liver or gall bladder problems
Note: Mouth problems are often due to amalgam fillings, allergies or Candida infestation (thrush).