Person wearing warm socks after feeling cold from vitamin deficiency

What vitamin deficiency causes you to feel cold?

Medically reviewed on September 27, 2022 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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From cold air drafts to freezing winter temperatures, many factors in your environment can make you feel cold. But did you know that you can also feel chilly from low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients?

That’s right—in some cases, low vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin C levels can make you feel cold.

Fortunately, learning about what vitamin deficiency causes you to feel cold can help you identify whether a vitamin or nutrient deficiency might be causing your sensitivity to coldness. To help you find the root of your chills, we’ll discuss the right nutrients to help regulate your body temperature.

How your body regulates temperature

Before you can learn what vitamins might help your feelings of coldness, it helps to know how your body regulates temperature in the first place.

Your body maintains its temperature through a process called thermoregulation. Thermoregulation involves the bodily processes that regulate healthy temperatures in mammals. For humans, this means the systems that keep your body’s temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. [1]

Most of the time, your body can maintain a temperature within a healthy range. Occasionally, however, internal and external disruptors prevent proper thermoregulation. When this occurs, your body’s temperature may increase or decrease.

Factors that could disrupt your body’s thermoregulation include: [1]

  • Viral illnesses and bacterial infections
  • Extreme outside temperatures
  • Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies

Let’s take a closer look at the last disruptor.

How vitamins and nutrients affect thermoregulation

Vitamins and nutrients help many bodily functions perform at optimal levels. Vitamin A, for example, can help your vision, while vitamin D can be necessary for strong bones. [2, 3] Vitamins and nutrients can also impact your body’s thermoregulation.

For many people, iron deficiencies are the primary cause of nutrient-based thermoregulatory disruptions. [4]

In short, iron is a powerful mineral that helps the body produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is, in turn, an important component of red blood cells. Without adequate red blood cells, the bloodstream cannot transport oxygen throughout the body.

When this occurs, you may feel cold, tired, and weak. This condition is known as anemia. [4]

Anemia typically stems from two deficiencies: [4]

  • Iron deficiency – With this condition, your body may not produce iron or produce enough of it. As a result, you must consume your iron from various iron-rich foods such as spinach, shellfish–also foods high in omega-3 [5], and legumes. You may develop anemia if your body doesn’t have enough iron.
  • Vitamin deficiency – A lack of vitamins that help regulate iron intake and processing can cause vitamin deficiency anemia. These vitamins include vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin C.

Vitamin B-12

Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps create the enzymes responsible for: [6]

  • DNA synthesis
  • Fatty acid synthesis
  • Myelin synthesis

Vitamin B12 also plays a role in creating the red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body. If your body cannot receive enough vitamin B12, you can develop vitamin deficiency anemia.

The good news is that you can help treat vitamin B12 deficiencies through some food sources. If you’re wondering what foods are rich in vitamin B12, these include the following: [6]

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Milk

You can also help treat vitamin B12 deficiencies with vitamin B12 supplements. In addition to helping decrease your chances of developing vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, these supplements can help with: [6]

  • Nervous system functioning and energy levels
  • Stress support
  • Nutrition support for plant-based diets


Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a vitamin similar to B12 in that a lack of folate can lead to anemia. In short, folate helps: [7]

  • Synthesize DNA and other genetic components
  • Cells divide

Folate deficiencies can lead to a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia. If you have megaloblastic anemia, it means your body’s red blood cells are larger than normal and fewer in number. The result is a lack of oxygen transported throughout the body. [7]

Megaloblastic anemia symptoms include: [7]

  • Irritability
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feelings of coldness

Fortunately, folate deficiencies are rare, as folate is found in many foods. These foods include: [7]

  • Beef
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Nuts
  • Legumes

If you are deficient in folate, you may benefit from taking a supplement containing folate or vitamin B9.

Vitamin C

Historically known as scurvy, vitamin C deficiencies were once very common around the world—particularly in pirates and sailors who ate limited diets while at sea.

Today, vitamin C deficiencies are exceedingly rare in the developed world. Vitamin C deficiencies do occasionally arise. In addition to causing scurvy, a lack of vitamin C can result in severe anemia. [8]

Fortunately, for most people, consuming adequate vitamin C isn't a difficult task. Vitamin C is found in the following foods: [9]

  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato juice
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes

You can also add vitamin C to your diet through a supplement or multivitamin to aid in cold intolerance.

Can low vitamin D cause you to feel cold?

Vitamin D is an important vitamin that your body absorbs from the sun, food, and supplements. While some people may suspect that low vitamin D levels may cause them to feel cold, research indicates that vitamin D may play only an indirect role in thermoregulation. [10]

Instead, vitamin D deficiencies typically result in rickets and other bone deficiencies. [10] While these conditions can lead to feelings of coldness, they don’t seem to play as direct a role in thermoregulation as the B vitamins.

That said, consuming the right amount of vitamin D is still important for bone, muscle, and immune health. To ensure you’re receiving enough or supplementing a vitamin D deficiency, consider taking a vitamin D supplement.

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