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Common Nutrient Deficiencies

Vitamins & Food Supplements

Updated on Nov 18, 2014

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Nutrients are what the human body needs to function, stay healthy, produce energy, and grow. Essential nutrients that your body cannot produce naturally can be found in food. There are many types of nutrients in different foods and these nutrients work together to provide for your body. Nutrients are found mostly in whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats. When a person is lacking nutrients it is referred to as a deficiency and it may cause malnutrition in a person.

Deficiencies can be caused by a poor diet or poor nutrient absorption in the body. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to several severe problems such as stunted growth, problems with bone development, skin problems, digestion issues, mental problems, and even tissue death. There are several major nutrients that people commonly lack: Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D.

Iron:
Iron deficiencies are the most common in the world, according to the World Health Organization. It is so common that it is recognized as a public health epidemic. Iron helps your body produce red blood cells. When your body is iron deficient the red blood cells that are being produced are not as healthy. A lack of iron can also result in anemia which is a decrease in red blood cells. Eating iron rich foods can help to increase the iron in your body. Foods such as spinach, kale, red meat, and chicken livers are high in protein. If the food is not upping the iron in your body enough, supplements called ferrous sulfate is available.

Calcium:
Calcium is needed for several important developments such as strong bones and teeth, it also helps the muscles and the heart to function properly. A calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, low bone mass, weakening of bones, abnormal heart rhythms or in severe cases, death. Dairy is the best source of calcium. Foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, and kale are foods with the highest amount of calcium.

Magnesium:
Magnesium is one of the most important essential nutrients that most people do not recognize. Magnesium deficiencies can cause insulin resistance, migraines, cramping, hypertension, fibromyalgia, constipation, and restless leg syndrome. Magnesium tends to be found in plant based food rather than animal products. The best foods to find magnesium in are dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, nuts, dark chocolate, seeds, and halibut. Supplements are also available for magnesium deficiencies as well.

Vitamin A:
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient needed to maintain a healthy body. Children who lack sufficient Vitamin A are at a greater risk of becoming blind, which is preventable. Vitamin A is important in adults for strengthening their immune system to fight infections, reproductive health, and eye health. Vitamin A is found in breast milk which is best for newborn babies. Vitamin A can be found in foods such as squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, peaches, carrots, and broccoli.

Vitamin B12:
Individuals who lack the essential nutrient B12 may find themselves lacking energy, depressed or anxious, losing unhealthy weight, and may even cause autism in children. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products. Liver and salmon have the highest amounts of B12, there are no fruit, vegetable, or grain option. If you cannot get your B12 from meat products, you may buy supplements to add B12 to your diet.

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D, like calcium, is essential to develop bones and a strong healthy body. Without the proper amount of Vitamin D, a body’s growth can be stunted and the bones underdeveloped. Osteoporosis, which is a syndrome that produces brittle and fragile bones, can be caused by a lack of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the easiest essential nutrients to procure. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Roughly 5-30 minutes of sunlight a few times a week can be enough Vitamin D for the body’s healthy growth. Vitamin D is also found in foods such as salmon, cod liver oil, and dairy products.

As you can see, having the proper nutrients are essential for growth and ongoing health. Lacking these essential nutrients can cause issues in all people- from babies to adults. A healthy body and mind are important and so is eating the proper diet!
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