What Vitamin Deficiency Causes You to Feel Cold?

Jun 25, 2024 | 6 min read

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Constantly feeling cold could be more than just the climate; it could be due to vitamin deficiencies. Vitamins B12, folate, and vitamin C are key players in regulating your body’s temperature. Understanding what vitamin deficiency causes you to feel cold is crucial for managing your health.

what vitamin deficiency causes you to feel cold?

How Your Body Regulates Temperature

The human body maintains a stable internal temperature through a process called thermoregulation. This process ensures that your body stays around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (36.6°C), which is essential for the optimal function of enzymes and metabolic processes.

Thermoregulation mechanisms:

  • Heat Production: The body generates heat through metabolic activities in the muscles and liver.
  • Heat Distribution: Blood vessels distribute heat throughout the body.
  • Heat Loss: The body loses heat through the skin and respiratory system.

Factors Disrupting Thermoregulation:

Various factors can disrupt thermoregulation, making you feel colder than usual. These include:

  • Environmental Conditions: Exposure to cold weather or drafts can lower your body temperature.
  • Illnesses: Viral and bacterial infections can affect your body's ability to regulate temperature.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies: Deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals can impair the body's ability to produce and maintain sufficient heat.

Vitamins and Mineral Deficiencies Causing Cold Sensitivity

Vitamin B12

A deficiency in vitamin B12 can affect your body's ability to produce enough healthy red blood cells, which are essential for carrying oxygen to various tissues and organs. Without sufficient oxygen, your body's ability to generate heat decreases, making you feel cold more often.


Lack of vitamin B12 can lead to:

  • Persistent shivering and a feeling of being cold
  • Chronic fatigue and weakness
  • Pale or jaundiced skin
  • Breathlessness and dizziness


Vitamin B12 deficiency can result from:

  • Inadequate Dietary Intake: People who do not consume animal products, such as vegetarians and vegans, are at higher risk.
  • Absorption Problems: Certain gastrointestinal disorders can impair the absorption of B12, such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease.
  • Medical Conditions: Issues like pernicious anemia can interfere with B12 absorption.

Groups at Risk:

  • Vegetarians and Vegans: These individuals might not get enough B12 through diet alone. According to the studies, vegans had the lowest vitamin B12, calcium, and iodine intake.
  • Elderly People: Aging can reduce the body’s ability to absorb B12 efficiently.
  • Individuals with Digestive Disorders: Conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease can hinder B12 absorption.


To ensure adequate intake of vitamin B12, include these foods in your diet:

  • Meat, fish, and dairy products
  • Eggs and poultry
  • Vitamin B12 supplements, especially for those at risk
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Folate (Vitamin B9)

Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential for the production of red blood cells. Without enough folate, your body produces fewer red blood cells, which can lead to poor oxygen distribution and a reduced ability to maintain body heat, making you feel colder.


Signs of folate deficiency include:

  • General fatigue and irritability
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Pallor


Folate deficiency can occur due to:

  • Inadequate Diet: Not eating enough foods rich in folate.
  • Pregnancy: Increased need for folate during pregnancy can lead to deficiency.
  • Alcoholism: Alcohol consumption can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb folate.
  • Genetic Factors: Certain genetic mutations, such as MTHFR mutations, can affect folate metabolism.


Include these folate-rich foods in your diet:

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Fortified foods (cereals, bread)
  • Folate supplements

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system and the production of collagen, which supports blood vessel integrity. A deficiency can weaken your immune response and impair circulation, contributing to feelings of coldness.

Symptoms of Deficiency:

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Frequent infections
  • Slow wound healing
  • Feeling cold


Boost your vitamin C levels by consuming:

  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons)
  • Broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes and bell peppers
  • Vitamin C supplements

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune function. While it does not directly cause cold sensitivity, a deficiency can impact your overall health, energy levels, and mood, potentially contributing to a feeling of coldness.

Symptoms of Deficiency:

  • Bone pain and muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Increased susceptibility to infections


Increase your vitamin D intake through:


Iron is crucial for the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. When iron levels are low, your body produces fewer red blood cells, reducing oxygen delivery to tissues and impairing your ability to stay warm.


Iron deficiency can cause:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Cold hands and feet


Iron deficiency can result from:

  • Blood Loss: Heavy menstrual periods, injuries, or gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Absorption Issues: Conditions affecting the intestines can reduce iron absorption.
  • Dietary Insufficiency: Not consuming enough iron-rich foods.


To combat iron deficiency, include these foods in your diet:

  • Red meat and poultry
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • Iron supplements


Zinc is vital for immune function and various enzymatic processes. A deficiency in zinc can weaken these systems, potentially affecting your body's ability to regulate temperature and leading to increased cold sensitivity.

Symptoms of Deficiency:

  • Frequent infections
  • Poor wound healing
  • Hair loss
  • Cold sensitivity


To improve zinc levels, include these foods in your diet:

  • Meat and shellfish
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Zinc supplements

Other Causes of Feeling Cold


Anemia is a condition where your body lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. This oxygen deficiency can lead to a decreased ability to generate body heat, making you feel cold more frequently.

Symptoms of Anemia:

  • Persistent fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches

Causes of Anemia:

  • Iron Deficiency: The most common cause, often due to inadequate dietary intake, heavy menstrual periods, or chronic blood loss from gastrointestinal conditions.
  • Vitamin Deficiency: Lack of essential vitamins like B12 and folate, which are necessary for red blood cell production.
  • Chronic Diseases: Conditions such as kidney disease or cancer can interfere with red blood cell production.
  • Inherited Disorders: Genetic conditions like sickle cell anemia affect the shape and functionality of red blood cells.
  • Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Problems: Diseases affecting bone marrow, such as leukemia or myelofibrosis, can disrupt red blood cell production.

Thyroid Disorders

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, which are crucial for regulating metabolism. Thyroid problems lead to a slower metabolism, meaning the body generates less heat, leading to increased sensitivity to cold.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Cold intolerance
  • Depression

Circulation Problems

Poor circulation can significantly affect how warm you feel, particularly in your extremities like hands and feet. Conditions that impact circulation include:

  • Raynaud’s Syndrome: This disorder causes blood vessels to spasm in response to cold or stress, reducing blood flow to affected areas and causing cold, numb fingers and toes.
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): This condition narrows blood vessels, reducing blood flow to limbs and making them feel cold.

A practical tip from Nicholas Morrissey, associate professor of vascular surgery at CUIMC, highlights a simple solution: 

People often think that temperature is a sign of circulation and so that’s true to some extent, but having cold hands and feet is almost always benign. If you can solve your cold-hands problem by wearing gloves, you don’t have a problem with cold hands.”

This suggests that if warmth can be restored easily with external measures, the issue is likely not a serious circulation problem.

Importance of Getting Tested for Deficiencies

Understanding and addressing the root cause of your cold sensitivity is crucial. Getting tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies can provide a clear picture of your health status and help you take appropriate action.

Blood tests can reveal levels of essential nutrients and indicate whether you need to adjust your diet or take supplements.

Tests to Consider

To determine if you have any deficiencies, consider the following tests:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): Measures various components of your blood, including red blood cells, which can indicate anemia.
  • Serum Ferritin Test: Assesses your body's iron stores to detect iron deficiency.
  • Vitamin B12 Test: Measures the amount of B12 in your blood.
  • Folate Test: Checks for folate levels in your blood.
  • Vitamin D Test: Determines the level of vitamin D in your blood.
  • Zinc Test: Measures the amount of zinc in your blood.
Lab Test Interpretation

Lab Test Interpretation

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Interpreting Your Lab Results

Consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial for accurate interpretation of your lab results. A healthcare provider can analyze your test outcomes, considering your overall health, medical history, and specific symptoms.

Also, you can upload your test results to our online tool to receive quick interpretations and detailed recommendations for your condition. It can help you identify specific deficiencies and suggest appropriate dietary changes or supplements. However, it is important to remember that online tools are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Feeling cold can often be caused by deficiencies in vitamins B12, folate, iron, and vitamin C, which are essential for maintaining healthy red blood cells and metabolic function. Keeping a balanced diet and seeking personalized advice from healthcare providers is key to staying warm and healthy. Don't forget, that addressing underlying issues like anemia and thyroid problems can make a big difference.

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