For most people, it is possible to receive all the nutrients they require for good health from the foods they eat. Diets that are balanced and based on real foods, not pre-packaged options, provide the body with the essential nutrients that are necessary.
The average modern diet, especially the Western diet, can be lacking in several common nutrient areas.
These are the most common nutrient deficiencies which can cause bothersome symptoms when they are present.
1. Iodine Deficiency
This mineral is essential for healthy thyroid function. The hormones produced by the thyroid help with brain development, bone health, and body growth. Shortness of breath, an increased heart rate, and weight gain are all symptoms of an iodine deficiency.
Eggs, dairy products, fish, and seaweed are all excellent sources of iodine.
2. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
This vitamin is essential for blood formation. It also supports the functions of the central nervous system. Every cell in the human body requires Vitamin B12 to properly function, but it is not produced naturally.
People who eat vegetarian diets are the most likely to suffer from this deficiency. Absorption decreases with age as well, and specific protein pump inhibitors may limit how much is absorbed as a side effect.
This vitamin is only found in animal foods, tempeh, and nori seaweed.
3. Iron Deficiency
This mineral is the primary component of red blood cells. It binds with your hemoglobin to transport oxygen to your cells. Heme iron is absorbed well and comes from animal-based foods, such as red meat. Non-heme iron is found in plant and animal foods, but the body does not readily use it.
Anemia is the most common issue experienced with this deficiency, which creates symptoms of fatigue, weakness, and decreased brain functionality. Eating shellfish, canned sardines, and red meat can help to correct this issue. Beans, pumpkin seeds, kale, and broccoli are good sources of non-heme iron.
4. Calcium Deficiency
This mineral is essential for every cell in the body, even though it is usually thought of like a tooth or bone enhancer. Without calcium, the muscles, nerves, and heart would be unable to function because it serves a signaling function in the body. Excess calcium is stored in the bones for release when it is needed.
Sardines are the best source of calcium, providing over 40% of the recommended daily intake with just one can. Dark, green vegetables and dairy products are good sources of calcium as well.
5. Vitamin A Deficiency
As with iron, two types of Vitamin A can be consumed in a regular, balanced diet: pre-formed and pro-vitamin. The former is in animal products, while the latter is found in fruits and vegetables.
Without enough of this vitamin, eye damage may occur. A prolonged Vitamin A deficiency is known to cause blindness. It will also suppress immune functions.
Supplements are intended for people who struggle to achieve a balanced diet because of allergies, food sensitivities, or other health challenges. Whenever possible, choose foods that contain high levels of these nutrients to prevent your own deficiencies from forming.