Adda Bjarnadottir, MS writes:
"Many nutrients are essential for good health. While it’s possible to get most of them from a balanced diet, the typical Western diet is low in several very important nutrients.
This article lists seven nutrient deficiencies that are incredibly common.
1. Iron deficiencyIron is an essential mineral. It’s a large component of red blood cells, in which it binds with haemoglobin and transports oxygen to your cells.
The two types of dietary iron are:
Heme iron. This type of iron is very well absorbed. It’s only found in animal foods, with red meat containing particularly high amounts.
Non-heme iron. This type, found in both animal and plant foods, is more common. It is not absorbed as easily as heme iron.
Summary: Iron deficiency is very common, especially among young women, children, and vegetarians. It may cause anaemia, fatigue, a weakened immune system, and impaired brain function.
2. Iodine deficiency
Iodine is an essential mineral for normal thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are involved in many bodily processes, such as growth, brain development, and bone maintenance. They also regulate your metabolic rate. Iodine deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, affecting nearly a third of the world's population.
Summary: Iodine is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. It may cause enlargement of the thyroid gland. Severe iodine deficiency can cause mental retardation and developmental abnormalities in children.
3. Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions like a steroid hormone in your body. It travels through your bloodstream and into cells, telling them to turn genes on or off. Almost every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced from cholesterol in your skin upon exposure to sunlight. Thus, people who live far from the equator are likely to be deficient unless their dietary intake is adequate or they supplement with vitamin D.
Summary: Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Symptoms include muscle weakness, bone loss, an increased risk of fractures, and — in children — soft bones. It is very difficult to get sufficient amounts from your diet alone.
4. Vitamin B12 deficiency (see also related posts below)
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is essential for blood formation, as well as brain and nerve function. Every cell in your body needs B12 to function normally, but your body is unable to produce it. Therefore, you must get it from food or supplements.
B12 is only found in sufficient amounts in animal foods, although certain types of seaweed may provide small quantities. Therefore, people who do not eat animal products are at an increased risk of deficiency. Studies indicate that up to 80–90% of vegetarians and vegans may be deficient in vitamin B12. More than 20% of older adults may also be deficient in this vitamin since absorption decreases with age.
Summary: Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common, especially in vegetarians, vegans, and older adults. The most common symptoms include blood disorders, impaired brain function, and elevated homocysteine levels.
5. Calcium deficiency
Calcium is essential for every cell in your body. It mineralizes bones and teeth, especially during times of rapid growth. It is also very important for bone maintenance. Additionally, calcium serves as a signalling molecule. Without it, your heart, muscles, and nerves would not be able to function. The calcium concentration in your blood is tightly regulated, and any excess is stored in bones. If your intake is lacking, your bones will release calcium. That is why the most common symptom of calcium deficiency is osteoporosis, characterized by softer and more fragile bones. Symptoms of more severe dietary calcium deficiency include soft bones (rickets) in children and osteoporosis, especially in older adults.
Summary: Low calcium intake is very common, especially in women of all ages and older adults. The main symptom of calcium deficiency is an increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.
6. Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, bones, and cell membranes. Furthermore, it produces eye pigments, which are necessary for vision. There are two different types of dietary vitamin A - Preformed vitamin A. This type of vitamin A is found in animal products like meat, fish, poultry, and dairy. Pro-vitamin A. This type is found in plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A, is the most common form.
Summary: Vitamin A deficiency is very common in many developing countries. It may cause eye damage and blindness, as well as suppress immune function and increase mortality among women and children.
7. Magnesium deficiency
Magnesium is a key mineral in your body. Essential for bone and teeth structure, it’s also involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions. Almost half of the U.S. population consumes less than the required amount of magnesium. Low intake and blood levels of magnesium are associated with several conditions, including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and osteoporosis. The main symptoms of severe magnesium deficiency include abnormal heart rhythm, muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome, fatigue, and migraines. More subtle, long-term symptoms that you may not notice include insulin resistance and high blood pressure.
Summary: Magnesium deficiency is common in Western countries, and low intake is associated with many health conditions and diseases.
The bottom line
It is possible to be deficient in almost every nutrient. That said, the deficiencies listed above are by far the most common. Children, young women, older adults, vegetarians, and vegans seem to be at the highest risk of several deficiencies. The best way to prevent deficiency is to eat a balanced diet that includes whole, nutrient-dense foods. However, supplements may be necessary for those who can’t obtain enough from diet alone."
The above words (and picture) have been taken from Adda's article, but are just a snippet of her full article which contains all relevant research links and can be seen here
Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency, see it here
B12 deficiency is a serious situation. Maybe it would help all concerned to remind themselves of the damage that can be caused by B12 deficiency by watching this video, especially if you use metformin (as many diabetics do), as Metformin can deplete B12.
Metformin beyond it's blood sugar lowering properties, see it hereMetformin is believed to be the most widely prescribed diabetes drug in the world. It was introduced into Britain in 1958 but not licensed for use in T2 diabetes in the US until 1994. It works by blocking the production of glucose in the liver and also by helping the body to utilise insulin properly.
It appears to be most effective in helping with weight loss and thus reducing insulin resistance. This effect is not maintained at the same rate after the initial period of weight loss and treatment, but many patients, including those not overweight at diagnosis, continue to take it for the cardiovascular protection it is said to afford.
Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas are within this blog. It is important to note, that not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.
Wow this post is a wealth of info !
I didn't realize there were so many mineral deficiencies. You would think with the abundance of food in most developed countries this wouldn't be an issue.
wow...you make me glad I take a daily supplement.
I used to take an iron every day...when I was a runner. My wife includes one to my regimen weekly, since I still bicycle, hike, and kayak regularly.
Thanks for the important infos, Valerie
very interesting information!
It is difficult to get all the necessary vitamins through diet. I ran out of multi vitamins back in the summer and have not taken any since. I have realized I am doing well with my diet since I have not been sick once and feel good. As a teen I had to take iron. I always felt sick then.
I have a Vitamin D and a Folic Acid deficiency. I now take supplements for both.
Sadly,even a balanced diet is not enough to get all the neccessary nutrients. Only after people get sick and see the drugs don't help much, they suddenly turn to health supplements. Taking supplements before could have prevented the health issue .
I have problems absorbing B12 so I have to have injections every twelve weeks, they really sting too, they're not very nice.
My blood work showed that I need to take an iron supplement. This is a very useful post, thanks.
Balance is important - in diet and in life.
I was vitamin D deficient. Am currently taking a supplement.
Duta answered my question in her comment. I was going to ask your thoughts on supplements. I hope they help! I take them and give them to my kids.
For some reason I am always low on iron - not bleeding - and have a series of tests. Had iron intravenously yesterday and next week. You are right.
My iron levels tend to take time rebuilding after a blood donation.
Many thanks to you all for your comments so far on this post, and it is interesting to note the number of you who are taking a supplement.
From Adda's original article, she says that 'Children, young women, older adults, vegetarians, and vegans seem to be at the highest risk of several deficiencies. The best way to prevent deficiency is to eat a balanced diet that includes whole, nutrient-dense foods. However, supplements may be necessary for those who can’t obtain enough from diet alone'
You can read more about 'the eleven most nutrient dense foods on the planet' here
Going back to Adda's article (which I only posted a snippet of) you will find a lot more information, and helpful links, within it that you may be interested in reading. Although I did link back to her article in my original post, I'll give the link again in full
There is also more information about Vitamins and Minerals on the WebMD site here
Sorry giving all links, but there is quite a lot of useful information available on this subject.
Once again many thanks for all your comments.
All the best Jan
Because I’m such a restricted diet, for medical reasons, I had a blood test to check all my levels.
I’m very happy to say I passed them all
Plenty of variety from all the foods you can eat, and eating them as naturally as possible, no processed foods. Really helps
Thanks for this good information!
This was an eye opener, Jan. It's hard to get a sufficient amount of Vitamin D when it rains every day of the week and the sun is but a memory.
Thanks for the helpful information!
Everyone should read this list and bring it up with their doctor should they have any doubts.
I have noticed that I am getting tired easier but I think I am just out of shape right now, need to get back on a good walking plan.
Great info and a lot to consider
As usual, you put a lot of thought and work into this post. This is really great information and some helpful tips and advice, just what many of us need.
I learned a lot here, especially from your step-by-step directions. Thank you for sharing this and for keeping us in the know.
Wishing you a great weekend!
Fortunately I don't take supplements because at the present time and the past there had been no need to - a good healthy died and genes I expect.
Yes. My SIL wants to get pregnant. She is vegetarian, if she eats at all and wonders why it does not happen - or if... she looses it. She has two daughters but with her "new diet" ... But if I dare to say something, oh, bummer, won´t do that again...
great info..I had an iron deficiency a few years ago and developed a terrible craving for dirt! it was awful..thankfully it was remedied with diet and supplements.
Great info, thanks for the heads up. MY doctor checks for some of these, I will look into others. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend!
Lots of valuable info here Jan. I think I do eat a pretty healthy diet but just to be sure I do take a daily vitamin supplement ✨
this is very interesting, the vitamin D deficiency in particular as I have just been prescribed supplements - you would think I'd be getting plenty through the sun exposure I have had lately!
This was interesting to read...you find some great articles to share.
Great article Jan.
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