Vitamins and minerals are a critical part of the diet because the body needs them for different cells and proteins to work properly. Vitamin deficiencies often go unnoticed, because they can develop slowly. But if untreated, a vitamin or mineral deficiency can cause serious health problems. Deficiencies in vitamin D and iron can cause problems with the blood and bones, which can be easily treated using supplements.
Iron and vitamin D have important roles in two different parts of the body. Iron is a key component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is packaged into red blood cells and allows them to transport oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is needed so that the body can properly absorb calcium from the diet, the Office of Dietary Supplements reports.
Typically, deficiencies of both iron and vitamin D points to poor nutrition, caused by an improper diet. Other problems can also contribute to low levels of either iron or vitamin D. Blood loss, for example, can cause patients to become low in iron because of the loss of iron-rich hemoglobin, MayoClinic.com explains. Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by inadequate sunlight exposure, as sunlight is needed to convert vitamin D into its active form.
The symptoms of a combined vitamin D and iron deficiency are a combination of the symptoms seen from a deficiency of each separately. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, which is marked by chronic pallor and fatigue due to inadequate oxygen delivery to tissues throughout the body. People with a vitamin D deficiency may develop muscle aches, fatigue and depression and may experience easy fracturing of their bones as a result of low calcium levels in the body, WomenToWomen.com reports.
Deficiencies of vitamin D and iron can usually be diagnosed using blood tests. People with iron deficiencies typically have smaller red blood cells and a low hematocrit, which is a measurement of the quantity of red blood cells in the blood, states MayoClinic.com. People with an iron deficiency typically have reduced levels of hemoglobin and ferritin in their blood as well. A vitamin D deficiency is marked by levels of activated vitamin D below 15 ng per ml of blood, the Office of Dietary Supplements explains.
People with deficiencies in iron and vitamin D should take supplements to help quickly restore their iron and vitamin D levels to normal. Because this combined deficiency suggests a poor diet, patients may also want to discuss their eating habits with their physicians to identify ways to improve their nutrition.