Do you struggle with mystery symptoms that you just can’t seem to get to the bottom of? Nutrient deficiencies might be to blame. In fact, most Americans struggle with one or more nutrient deficiencies!
Nutrient deficiencies can be defined as the inadequate supply of essential nutrients leading to malnutrition. In America, today, largely due to the Standard American Diet, most adults and children are deficient in more than one nutrient. The Standard American Diet, filled with mostly processed foods, is void of many nutrients, eventually contributing to multiple nutrient deficiencies. This can lead to a host of unwanted symptoms, imbalances, and health conditions.
While nutrient deficiencies can be caused by a nutrient-lacking diet, they can also worsen when infections or chronic diseases are present. In these situations, the body’s digestive system becomes inhibited, resulting in poor absorption of nutrients. This further worsens the occurrence of nutrient deficiencies. More so, popular medications, such as birth control, statins, and anti-depression drugs, can deplete many essential nutrients from the body.
As you can see, your diet has a large impact on the potential of developing nutrient deficiencies. For this reason, I prefer to take a food-first approach to addressing nutrient deficiencies. This means including more nutrient-rich food sources in the diet, such as quality meat, seafood, and organic fruits and veggies. Note: in some severe cases, supplementation may be necessary, in addition to a food-first approach.
Six of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America, today, and those I see in my practice most often include:
Vitamin B12– B12 is essential for healthy brain function and nervous system regulation. It also contributes to metabolic function and energy production. Vitamin B12 deficiency can arise after the use of Metformin (used to treat PCOS and Diabetes) or following a vegan diet, as B12 is only found in animal products. The most common symptoms of deficiency include tingling hands and feet, fatigue, numbness, sore and red tongue, forgetfulness, and brain fog.
Food sources include: animal products, such as meat, poultry, dairy, seafood, and shellfish.
Vitamin D– vitamin D supports a healthy immune system and aids in maintaining bone health by helping the body absorb and retain calcium. Vitamin D can also be beneficial in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include frequently getting sick, low mood, fatigue, bone pain or achiness.
Food sources include cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, beef liver.
Iodine– Iodine is known as the seafood nutrient, as it’s mostly found in foods from the sea. This nutrient is extremely important in regulating the thyroid gland and a deficiency can quickly lead to hypothyroidism. That said, we generally require a delicate amount of iodine from the diet, so supplementation isn’t often necessary. Common symptoms of deficiency include weight gain, dry skin, low thyroid function, thinning hair, slow heart rate, and sensitivity to cold.
Food sources include seafood, kelp, dulse, seaweed, and iodized salt.
Vitamin A– Vitamin A is necessary for healthy skin, a strong immune system, and balanced thyroid hormones. It can also affect fertility and iron metabolism. When vitamin A levels are low, it can be difficult to move iron into the bloodstream (where it needs to go). Common symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include trouble seeing in low light, skin rashes, bumps on back of arms, acne, fatigue, and infertility.
Food sources include beef liver, cod liver oil, and whole eggs.
Magnesium– Unfortunately, most adult Americans are deficient in magnesium, as stress quickly depletes magnesium stores. Adequate levels of magnesium are necessary for healthy stress response, a strong immune system, muscle relaxation, and over 300 enzymatic reactions. Common symptoms of deficiency include anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, muscle cramps or spasms, headaches/migraines, and painful periods.
Food sources include nuts, seeds, leafy greens, dark chocolate, beans, and legumes.
Iron– Iron is required for thyroid function, adequate energy production, and oxygen transport. However, in the case of iron deficiency, it’s always important to test, not guess. Before supplementing with iron, work with a practitioner who can order a comprehensive nutrient panel. Why? Because other nutrient deficiencies can cause iron to be stored in the tissues, instead of the bloodstream. Common symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, paleness, feeling cold, heavy periods, and brittle nails.
Food sources include beef liver, meat, poultry, and seafood.
Before addressing and correcting any suspected nutrient deficiencies, it’s important to test your nutrient levels. While many common symptoms of nutrient deficiencies can overlap, the only true way to identify deficiencies is through functional testing. I currently offer comprehensive micronutrient testing in my practice to help you get to the root cause of your symptoms. To learn more, click here!