How to Avoid Nutrient Deficiencies

fitness gut health hormone health nutrition Apr 05, 2023

No-So-Fun-Fact: 31% of people in the U.S. are at risk for a deficiency in at least one vitamin or mineral essential for good health.

It may be hard to imagine that we don’t get enough nutrition when we see an abundance of food available 24/7, but it’s true.

Should you be concerned about being low in one or two vitamins or minerals?

The short answer is YES!!

Vitamins and minerals are essential for optimal health. Being low may not cause immediate symptoms, but it puts you at risk for many serious diseases that can affect your brain, heart, blood, immune system, metabolism, bones, and mental health.

Nutrients are key pieces your body needs to maintain good working order in all of your systems

Missing just one or two essential players can throw off the delicate balance you need to be healthy and feel great. That’s because most nutrients don’t have just one vital role to play within the body, they play many, many vital roles.

How would you even know if you’re at risk for a nutrient deficiency?

It’s not always obvious. Sometimes symptoms aren’t felt for a long time and sometimes they’re very vague and non-specific. For example, fatigue, irritability, aches and pains, decreased immune function, and heart palpitations can be signs related to menopause, poor gut health, or a nutrient deficiency.

Here are five of the most common deficiencies, their symptoms, and foods that are high in each so you can work on improving your health starting today!

Vitamin B6: The number one most common nutrient deficiency in the US. This vitamin is important for your blood, brain, and metabolism. Not to mention the fact that it’s also involved with over 100 enzyme reactions in the body, mostly for metabolism.

Some of the main symptoms of a serious deficiency in Vitamin B6 are depression, confusion, convulsions, and a type of anemia called “microcytic” anemia, as well as an increased risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Vitamin B6 is found in all food groups. People who eat high-fiber cereals tend to have higher levels of the vitamin because cereals are often fortified with it. Vitamin B6 is also found in high quantities in potatoes, non-citrus fruits (e.g., bananas), and various animal-based foods such as poultry, fish, and organ meats.

2Vitamin B12 - also very important for your blood and brain. Having a Vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by a type of anemia called “pernicious” anemia. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease that affects the stomach and reduces its ability to absorb Vitamin B12. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can then lead to a different type of anemia called “megaloblastic” anemia. 

Vitamin B12 isn’t naturally present in most plant-based foods, like dairy and eggs, as well as fish, poultry and meat.

Vitamin C - important for wound healing (via a protein called collagen), the production of neurotransmitters, metabolism, and the proper functioning of the immune system. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant to reduce the damage caused by free radicals that can worsen several diseases such as certain cancers and heart disease. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb the essential mineral iron, which is one of the top five nutrient deficiencies also included in this article.

You can get Vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables like bell peppers, oranges, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, tomato juice, cantaloupe, cabbage, and cauliflower. Try, as much as possible, to eat Vitamin C-rich foods raw.

Vitamin D , also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is very important for your bones. It promotes the absorption of the mineral calcium. When your body has enough calcium, it can maintain normal bone mineralization and prevent problems in the muscles that lead to cramps and spasms. Getting enough Vitamin D and calcium can also help protect against osteoporosis. In addition to all of these bone and muscle impacts, Vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation and modulate both immune function and sugar metabolism.

Without enough Vitamin D bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Your skin makes Vitamin D when it’s exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and through foods like salmon, trout, and cod liver oil, as well as egg yolks, beef liver, and cheddar cheese. Most of the dietary Vitamin D that people in the US get is from fortified foods and beverages, including dairy products (mainly milk), certain plant milks (e.g., soy, almond, or oat milks), various breakfast cereals, and a few types of orange juice. Be sure to look at the nutrition labels to see if and how much Vitamin D is in each serving of the food or beverage.

Iron - a mineral essential for healthy blood so that it can transport vital oxygen throughout your body every second of every day. Having adequate iron is necessary for physical growth, neurological development, hormone production, and the function of your cells.

A deficiency in iron is commonly known as “anemia.”

Eating a nutrient-rich diet with a variety of foods can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

To know if you’re at risk for a nutrient deficiency, consult a certified nutrition professional who can review your foods and supplements.

Feeling “off” or having symptoms that concern you? Want inspiration on how to meet your health goals through a nutritious diet? Need a personalized list of recipes and a plan to help you enjoy eating well? Book an call with me to see how we can work together to find you a solution. 

For inspiration in the kitchen with some healthy meals including recipes and meal plans >>> click this link.

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