Contributed by Benji D.

Vitamin deficiencies do not just exist in third world countries; many Americans are deficient in vitamins.  Crazy diets and processed foods as well as a lack of sunshine, whole foods and physical activity leave many Americans without the vitamins they need to live a healthy life.

Here are the top four vitamins that may be missing from your diet:

Magnesium. The average diet is missing 40-50% of the RDA’s daily requirement of magnesium.  A lack of magnesium can contribute to anxiety, heart problems, insomnia, hyper activity, muscle spasms and cramps and depression.  You can fortify your diet by eating green leafy vegetables, seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower, dark colored beans and berries.

Vitamin B12.  The older you are the more likely you are deficient in B12.  B12 is used to make new red blood cells and ensure that your nervous system is working well.  Without it you can have tingling feet and hands, a change in your ability to walk, loss of vision, memory problems, depression and mood swings. You can find B12 in proteins from fish, eggs, poultry, red meat and dairy products.  If you are a vegetarian or a vegan you should take B12 supplements as this vitamin is only found in animal products.

Iron. This is the most common deficiency in the United States.  The symptoms include weakness, extreme fatigue, headaches, dizziness, irritability, pale skin, shortness of breath, brittle nails, a fast heartbeat and inflammation of the tongue.  Iron can be found in lentils, eggs, dark chocolate, tofu, red meat, poultry and chickpeas.

Vitamin D.  Your body needs to be exposed to sunlight in order to process vitamin D.  5 to 30 minutes of sunlight two times a week is sufficient to process the vitamin.  Lack of Vitamin D symptoms are depression (including SAD) type 1 diabetes, low blood calcium levels, bone problems, muscle and joint pain, high blood pressure, periodontal disease and chronic fatigue.  You can get more vitamin D in your system by taking cod liver oil, shrimp, eggs, dark chocolate, fortified grains, milk and yogurt.

To prevent any vitamin deficiencies, eat a wide variety of fresh and whole foods, high quality protein sources and take supplements if necessary.