Nutritional deficiencies are more common than you think. You do your best to eat clean and healthy, which is fantastic but, even the slightest deficiency in minerals and vitamins can have profound consequences on your health.
In order for your body to function at its peak, we need rounded and balanced levels of all the vitamins and minerals the body requires. Here are 5 of the most common nutritional deficiencies and how to get more in your diet:
Vitamin D plays a huge part in immune system regulation, hormonal balance and calcium’s absorption into the bones.
The best way to get vitamin D is to expose as much of your skin as possible to direct sunlight for about 10 minutes a day. But unfortunately for many of us we don’t live in a country that has sun 365 days a year. So, we either need to focus hard on getting it through diet or a supplement. Powerful food sources of this vitamin include cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines and raw milk dairy. For vegans, the best sources are sunlight or supplementation. Opt for D3 over D2 when buying supplements as it has been shown to be more bioavailable and effective in the body.
Magnesium is alluringly known as the “relaxation mineral,” but over 60 percent of us don’t get enough of it. Even worse, most of us are steadily chipping away at the magnesium we have in storage throughout our everyday lives, from drinking coffee to stress and eating refined sugars.
Our diets are providing less magnesium than they used to. The composition of what we eat and the quality of our foods has drastically changed over the past hundred years, and this has made it difficult for even the most health-conscious people to get enough magnesium. The 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey showed that over 34% of Canadians consumed less than the estimated average amount of required magnesium.
And those estimated average requirements are quite modest; around 350mg/day for adults. It’s thought that before industrialization, dietary intakes were closer to 475-500mg/day!
There are high quality magnesium oils that work well. In terms of diet, great sources of magnesium include spinach, chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Ditching excessive coffee and getting a handle on your stress levels will make the world of difference, too.
You need iron in order for you body to make hemoglobin in your blood, so it’s pretty darn important. Iron deficiency, however, is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, and it is especially prevalent among women.
Are you eating enough foods with iron? “The recommended daily allowance of iron for men over age 19 and postmenopausal women is 8 milligrams per day. Women between ages 19 and 50 require 18 mg per day. During pregnancy women need 27 mg per day. The amount of iron absorbed by the body varies and is increased when iron stores are low,” says Lanah J. Brennan, RD, CDE, a dietitian working in private practice in Lafayette, La.
While grass-fed beef and liver are traditionally the most potent sources of iron, vegans and vegetarians can reap the benefits of spirulina. Just one ounce of this algae powder contains over 40 percent of your daily needs. Other iron-rich plant foods include lentils, spinach, black beans and dark chocolate.
Perhaps the rarest of the B vitamins is B12. This vitamin is essential for red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and healthy nerve and brain function. A mild deficiency of B12 can manifest as impaired mental function and low energy A good vegan source is fortified nutritional yeast, or supplementation. Non-vegan sources include grass-fed beef and beef liver, sardines, salmon, mackerel, feta cheese, nutritional yeast and eggs.
This vitamin protects us from heart disease, promotes healthy growth and development, helps prevent cancer and supports bone, brain and skin health. Vitamin K2 is found in egg yolks, grass-fed butter, chicken liver and cheeses, but vegans can find it in fermented products like natto and sauerkraut. Wheatgrass is also a great source but, since our bodies aren’t designed to break down the tough fibers in grasses, juicing your own wheatgrass daily can also be a powerful way to get your daily dose.
Even the mildest chronic deficiency can have profound effects on your health. When you balance your diet and lifestyle, you balance your body. It’s incredible what a little bit of healthy eating, self-care and stress management can do on the cellular level.
You may want to ask your Nutrition Specialist or your doctor for a test to see what you are deficient in to help you balance your body & mind.