Supplementing your diet with vitamins can provide some health benefits, but it may be necessary if you’ve been diagnosed with certain medical conditions that contribute to nutritional deficiencies. Medicare coverage for vitamins may be available for some situations.
Determining Vitamin Deficiency
The effects of vitamin deficiency can manifest in many different ways. When poor nutrition fails to provide the body with the level of vitamins necessary to function properly, these symptoms can take time to appear. If your vitamin deficiency is a side effect of a health complication or a reaction to certain medications, however, this depletion may occur at a faster rate.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, speak to your doctor about testing for vitamin deficiency:
- Excessive loss of hair or hair that is brittle and thinning, as well as easily broken or split nails.
- Poor oral health, including sores, tooth decay or damage, bleeding gums and cracked lips.
- Decline in vision quality, especially at night, or growths that look white on the eyes.
- Skin issues on the scalp and body, such as red bumps and scaly patches.
- Fatigue, dizzy spells and weakened muscles.
- Shortness of breath and irregular heartbeats.
- Confusion, unpredictable mood changes, forgetfulness and altered personality.
There may be many other signs of a vitamin deficiency when the cause is a medical condition or brought on by medication that disrupts your body’s ability to take in or process nutrients properly. Illnesses that impact the digestive tract, the liver and kidneys can all present complications with meeting nutritional needs. Surgeries involving the stomach and intestines may also play a role in vitamin deficiencies.
Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle and discuss any medications you’re taking if you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency that needs to be treated with supplementation and nutritional intervention. Blood tests can help determine which nutrients you may be lacking and how deficient you may be.
Types of Vitamin Supplements
The National Institute on Aging notes that, in most cases, the body absorbs nutrients better through food. This means that most mild vitamin deficiencies may be successfully addressed by changing dietary habits so that you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods that provide you with what you need.
When you’re unable to address deficiency through diet, however, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter capsules or tablets that can help you regain an appropriate level of necessary vitamins. If your needs arise from a medical condition or medication, however, you may need an injection or infusion of vitamins regularly or throughout the duration of your illness or treatment.
Medicare Coverage for Vitamins
Most over-the-counter forms of vitamin supplements will not be covered by Medicare insurance, such as Part B or Part D Prescription Drug Plans. Part B coverage may apply when a qualifying medical condition requires treatment that includes vitamin supplements that are administered via injection or infusion at an approved facility. Medicare Part B may also approve coverage for supplements given through oral administration if that is a known and medically necessary form of treatment for a qualifying medical condition.
Prescription Drug Plans or Medicare Advantage plans with prescription benefits may cover some vitamin supplements. Because Part C plans are offered through private, third-part insurers, they may include extra benefits that allow patients to purchase non-prescription supplements with a monthly over-the-counter allowance. Plans differ based on location and insurer and formularies for covered prescription vitamins and over-the-counter allowances can change yearly.