5 common nutritional deficiencies + how to spot them quickly

5 common nutritional deficiencies + how to spot them quickly

Balance our complex nutrient needs and avoiding nutrient deficiencies can be difficult these days. It’s all too easy to choose quick and convenient foods over healthier whole foods that better maintain our energy and brain health.

Kavita Desai, Pharm. D. is a tireless advocate for women’s health and wants us to better understand the unique impact these health and lifestyle factors can have on our health.

After a decade and a half in a hospital and community pharmacy, Desai launched a private integrated clinical pharmacy and medical center in 2006. She is also the founder of women-focused wellness brand, Revivele, an educational platform dedicated to putting women at the forefront of the health conversation in disease prevention and cognitive health.

Developing nutrient deficiencies from a poor or unbalanced diet can affect our overall health and put us at increased risk of disease. Here are some of the common shortcomings that many people experience and what you can do to fix them…

Vitamin D deficiency

Why do we need it?
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin! It is essential for many bodily functions such as
immunity, brain function, sleep, mental health and has antioxidant properties. But the most
above all, we need vitamin D to help in the proper absorption of calcium.

Symptoms of a lack of vitamin D:
Anxiety and depression, bone pain, healing disorders, hair loss, muscle weakness or
get sick more frequently.

Where to find vitamin D:
Vitamin D3 (the active form of vitamin D) is converted in our skin by regular, daily exposure to
UV light from the sun. It can also be obtained from foods such as fatty fish (such as mackerel
and salmon), egg yolks, beef liver, and foods fortified with vitamin D. Due to the significant health
benefits of vitamin D, and the difficulty in getting it from food or UV exposure alone, it is
recommended to supplement daily based on your blood levels.

Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency

Why do we need it?
Omega 3 fatty acids can come from plant sources and fish. EPA and DHA are the two most
crucial omega 3s found in oily fish. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in plant-based foods
like nuts and seeds.

Your body needs these fatty acids to function, such as balancing triglyceride levels, improving joint stiffness and mental health, and new research is even beginning to show how beneficial EPA and DHA are for the health of the body. brain and prevent cognitive decline.

Symptoms of a lack of omega 3:
Irritated and/or dry skin, depression, dry eyes, joint pain, poor memory and dry/brittle hair.

Where to find omega 3 fatty acids:
For EPA and DHA, the best food source is oily fish. Due to the potentially high mercury content in
larger fish, aim for smaller fish sources such as sardines and anchovies more often than larger ones
fish like salmon. Plant sources of ALA include chia seeds, nuts, and soy.

Iron deficiency

Why do we need it?
Iron is a mineral that helps in the production of hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen through our
red blood cells throughout our body, and is also involved in the production of certain hormones. A
a shortage of iron in the body can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which can be serious enough to
general well-being.

Symptoms of a lack of iron:
Fatigue, weakness, lack of energy, decreased concentration and memory, pale skin, inability to
maintain body temperature, hair loss, spoon-shaped nails, poor immunity and restless legs
syndrome.the best zinc sources and supplements

Where to find iron:
Animal-based (heme-based) sources are better absorbed than plant-based sources of iron
(not heme-based). Therefore, vegetarians should make sure to consume a lot more iron containing
foods than meat eaters. Some good sources of iron include liver, red meat, poultry, seafood,
kidney beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds and nuts. If blood levels show significantly low iron
level, iron supplementation may be necessary.

Magnesium deficiency

Why do we need it?
Magnesium is found in every cell of your body and is essential for bone health, the conversion
food into usable energy, protein formation in the body, DNA and RNA repair,
muscle contraction and relaxation and optimal functioning of the nervous system.

Symptoms of a lack of magnesium:
Muscle cramps, numbness or weakness, loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting. More severe
deficiencies can lead to seizures, changes in heart rhythm and a range of chronic conditions such as
such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Where to find magnesium:
Magnesium-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, spinach, almonds, edamame,
salmon, halibut and avocado.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Why do we need it?
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in red blood cell formation, nerve function, DNA production and cell metabolism. Our bodies cannot make it on their own, so it is crucial that we get it from dietary sources or supplements.

Symptoms of low B12:
Extreme fatigue and lack of energy, anemia, tingling sensation, canker sores,
vision disturbances, mood changes and nerve damage.

Where to find vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 is mainly found in foods of animal origin such as organ meats, sardines,
beef, tuna, salmon and eggs. Thus, fortified foods (cereals or nutritional yeast) or
supplementation is recommended for anyone at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, such as vegans or

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