Providing your body with essential vitamins and minerals is crucial to establishing a healthy aging process and optimizing everyday biological function. The majority of Americans do not adhere to a healthy eating pattern. Lack of physical activity coupled with an energy-rich and nutrient-poor diet can predispose you to chronic disease and nutrient deficiency, which affects nearly 10% of the US population. We’re going to talk about some of the most common nutrient deficiencies so you can ensure you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet for optimal health and wellness.
Being informed that you have nutrient deficiencies after your yearly blood panel, is never a good feeling, especially when you think you’re eating all of the right things. Rest assured, that the majority of nutrient deficiencies can be supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals, to raise blood serum levels. Nutrient deficiencies can result from a lack of certain essential vitamins and minerals in your diet, or from genetic predispositions which are characterized by malabsorption.
Malnutrition or getting too little or too much of certain vitamins and minerals can be detrimental to your overall health. Malnutrition affects billions of people worldwide, putting certain populations at a high risk for chronic disease.
Types of malnutrition include, undernutrition, and overnutrition. Undernutrition, or undereating and lack of nutrient absorption, can result from not eating enough protein, low caloric intake, and lack of micronutrients. Overconsumption of nutrients, such as calories, carbohydrates, protein, or fat, can also lead to micronutrient deficiencies, and chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
What Are The Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies
1. B-Vitamins (Vitamin B6 & Vitamin B12)
Epidemiological studies have shown that b-complex vitamins are one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the US. Vitamin B12 is essential for the synthesis of DNA, blood formation, as well as brain and nerve health. Research indicates that 3-6% of Americans are B12 deficient while 14-20% have marginal B12 depletion [R]. B12 deficiency increases with age and is highly prevalent amongst vegans or vegetarians, ranging between 32-90% [R].
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2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, that functions like a steroid hormone in your body. Vitamin D plays an imperative role in bone development and maintenance, by increasing the absorption of calcium. 50-90% of Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin via sunlights, while the rest is obtained through dietary sources. Twenty minutes of sunshine daily with over 40% of skin exposed is required to prevent vitamin D deficiency [R]. Over 50% of the world population is vitamin D deficient affecting over 1 billion people [R].
Vitamin D deficiency can result from several causes.
Those with malabsorption syndromes, such as celiac disease, short bowel syndrome, gastric bypass, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pancreatic insufficiency, and cystic fibrosis may lead to vitamin D deficiency. Additionally, decreased sun exposure, increased hepatic metabolism, and organ resistance all can contribute to vitamin d deficiency.
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Iron deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies worldwide and can lead to microcytic anemia, decreased work capacity, fatigue, as well as impaired immune and endocrine function [R]. Iron deficiency affects more than 25% of people.
Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, which is primarily responsible for transporting oxygen to organs and tissue. Iron deficiency is characterized by a low number of red blood cells and is commonly experienced by women and young infants, which can lead to fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, and mild exertion.
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Magnesium is a key mineral involved in several hundred enzymatic reactions within the human body. 70% of adults aged 70 or older are reported to have magnesium deficiency [R]. Low intake of magnesium is associated with several chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis [R].
Magnesium is crucial for bone mineral density. As we age, your bones progressively lose density and become frail. Studies have shown that greater intakes of magnesium can increase bone density through conserving skeletal muscle mass, which helps prevent bone frailty and age-related diseases such as sacropenia and osteoporosis [R]
Magnesium also supports sleep. Sleep and wake cycle is regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the brain, which coordinates the circadian rhythms in other tissues through the body. Studies suggest that Magnesium can improve insomnia symptoms, sleep duration and improve sleep quality.
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Nutrient Deficiencies: Takeaway
If you find that you are nutrient deficient in certain vitamins, the easiest way to increase your levels back to a healthy level, is through supplementation. Adjusting your diet is also crucial to address any additional deficiencies you may have to improve overall health and wellness. Typically, low energy, fatigue, brain fog, lack of sleep, and chronic disease is directly related to your nutrition. Your best option would be to hire a certified nutrition coach, to help improve your quality of life, by optimizing your diet for better health.
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