Common Nutrient Deficiencies Affect Your Overall Health Condition

When your body is unable to get enough nutrients from diet or is unable to absorb nutrients from it, a deficiency of vitamins or minerals may occur leading to severe health conditions, which need medical help and supplementation. How to tackle this situation and avoid it? Read in this article.

Body requires many different minerals and vitamins to prevent crucial diseases and to develop. These are micro-nutrients. They are not produced naturally, you have to get them from your diet. Malnutrition occurs when our body does not absorb or get necessary amount of nutrient. This deficiency may lead to variety of health problems, including digestion problem, skin disorders, bone growth problems and even dementia. Amount of nutrient consumption depends on age. Here we are going to discuss some common nutritional deficiencies and how to avoid them.

Iron Deficiency

The most common nutritional deficiency all over the world is iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. This is a blood disorder that causes fatigue, weakness and a variety of other symptoms. It founds in foods such as dark leafy greens, red meat, and egg yolks. It helps your body develop red blood cells. When you are iron-deficient, body produces less amount of red blood cells. The red blood cells it produces are smaller and not healthy blood cells as regular one. They are also not efficient at delivering oxygen to your tissues and organs. There are two types of dietary iron:

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.

The best dietary sources of heme iron include:

  • Red meat.
  • Organ meat.
  • Shellfish
  • Canned sardines.

The best dietary sources of non-heme iron include:

  • Beans
  • Pumpkin, sesame, and squash seeds.
  • Dark, leafy greens. Broccoli, kale, and spinach.

Vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron. Eating vitamin-C-rich foods like oranges, kale, and bell peppers alongside iron-rich foods will help maximize your iron absorption. Your doctor may prescribe you iron rich supplements to overcome this deficiency.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A is a nutrient important for eye health. Also helps in reproductive health in men and women. It also plays a role in strengthening the immune system against infections. According to WHO, a lack of vitamin A is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Pregnant women deficient in vitamin A have higher maternal mortality rates as well. Beta carotene is a nutrient that functions as an antioxidant, found in red, orange, yellow, and dark green produce. Beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in the body when needed.

For newborn babies, the best source of vitamin A is breast milk. For others, it is important to eat plenty of foods high in vitamin A. These include:

  • milk
  • eggs
  • green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and spinach
  • orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin
  • reddish-yellow fruits, such as apricots, papaya, peaches, and tomatoes

Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Another common nutritional deficiency is vitamin B1. Thiamine is an important part of your nervous system. It also helps your body turn carbohydrates into energy as part of your metabolism. A lack of thiamine can result in:

  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • confusion
  • short-term memory loss

Thiamine deficiency can also lead to nerve and muscle damage and can affect the heart. Thiamine deficiency is most often seen in people with excessive alcohol use. Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb thiamine, store thiamine in the liver, and convert thiamine to a usable form. This is a form of dementia. Good sources of thiamine include:

  • eggs
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • wheat germ
  • pork

Vitamin B3 Deficiency

Niacin is another mineral that helps the body convert food into energy. It is also known as vitamin B3. A severe deficiency in niacin is often referred to as pellagra. Niacin is found in most animal proteins but also in peanuts. This condition is rare in industrialized countries or in meat-eating communities. Symptoms of pellagra include diarrhea, dementia, and skin disorders. You can usually treat it with a balanced diet and vitamin B3 supplements.

Vitamin B9 Deficiency

Vitamin B9 helps the body create red blood cells and produce DNA. It is referred to as folate. Folate also helps brain development and nervous system functioning. Folate is especially important for fetal development. It plays a crucial role in the formation of a developing child’s brain and spinal cord. Folate deficiency can lead to severe birth defects, growth problems, or anemia. You can find folate in the following foods:

  • beans and lentils
  • citrus fruits
  • leafy green vegetables
  • asparagus
  • meats, such as poultry and pork
  • shellfish
  • fortified grain products
  • whole grains

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is a B vitamin that is responsible for assisting the body in making enough healthy red blood cells. Deficiency in this vitamin is common among people who:

  • are vegans
  • have had gastric surgery
  • are over 60 years old
  • have diabetes and take metformin (Glucophage)
  • have a long history of antacid use
  • lack intrinsic factor

A deficiency in this vitamin may cause pernicious anemia. This is a type of anemia caused by a decreased ability to absorb B12 efficiently. Pernicious anemia is more common in people with digestive diseases. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • fatigue and weakness in extremities
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • weight loss
  • nausea or poor appetite
  • sore, red, or swollen tongue
  • pale or yellowish skin

More severe symptoms include:

  • difficulty walking
  • muscle weakness
  • irritability
  • dementia
  • depression
  • memory loss

Vitamin B12 is commonly found in red meat and animal products. Vegetarian sources include fortified plant-based milks and nutritional yeast.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. It helps the body maintain the right levels of calcium in order to regulate the development of teeth and bones. A lack of this nutrient can lead to stunted or poor bone growth. Osteoporosis, caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D, can lead to porous and fragile bones that break very easily. Vitamin D is only found naturally in a few foods. Foods with vitamin D include:

  • fish liver oils
  • fatty fish
  • mushrooms
  • egg yolks
  • liver

The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. According to some research suggests that 5 to 30 minutes of midday sun exposure twice a week on the face, arms, neck, or back can provide you with enough vitamin D.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium helps your body develop strong bones and teeth. It also helps your heart, nerves, and muscles work the way they should. A calcium deficiency often does not show symptoms right away, but it can lead to serious health problems over time. If you are not consuming enough calcium, your body may use the calcium from your bones instead. This leads to bone loss. Calcium deficiency can lead to convulsions and abnormal heart rhythms. These can even be life-threatening. Postmenopausal women experience greater bone loss due to changing hormones and have more trouble absorbing calcium. The best sources of calcium are:

  • dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • calcium-set tofu
  • small fish with bones
  • Vegetables such as kale and broccoli also have calcium. Many cereals and grains are calcium-fortified.

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. The most common symptom of iodine deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, also known as a goiter. It may also cause an increase in heart rate, shortness of breath, and weight gain. Severe iodine deficiency is linked to serious harm, especially in children. Good dietary sources of iodine include:

However, these amounts can vary greatly. As iodine is found mostly in soil and ocean water, iodine-poor soil will result in low-iodine food. Some countries mandate the enrichment of table salt with iodine, which has successfully reduced the incidence of deficiencies.

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is a key mineral in your body, essential for bone and teeth structure, it is also involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions. 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. Dietary sources of magnesium include:

  • Whole grains.
  • Nuts
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables.

Takeaway

Deficiencies listed above are 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. Supplements may be necessary for those who cannot get enough from diet. Calcium and iron supplementation is the most common supplementation prescribed to people in India. Vitamins come in the form of multi-vitamin capsules and can be administered as per your physician’s advice. If you are not getting it from food, you must get it through supplementation. When you are leading an active lifestyle and have less time to pay attention to your nutrition, using good vitamin and mineral rich supplements help you a lot in coping up with deficiencies and keeping you fit.

About The Author

Neelanjan Banerjee

Neelanjan Banerjee is a Software Engineer in HCL Tech. Ltd. He is a professional bodybuilder, CPD certified Strength and Bodybuilding Coach and CPD Certified Diploma holder in N.... Read More..

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