Even if you are the most health conscious person you know, it’s still possible to experience occasional nutritional deficiencies. The Standard American Diet uses GMOs, antibiotics, hormones, and other processed ingredients in common foods, making it hard to get essential nutrients. For this reason, many people resort to multivitamins to avoid losing out on nutrients. Unfortunately, the multivitamin isn’t a proper answer to a diet filled with unhealthy foods.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 10% of the U.S. population experiences some sort of nutrient or vitamin deficiency. While these deficiencies can vary by age, gender, and race, the common denominator is often the Standard American Diet. On the other hand, consuming a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables gives you a better chance at absorbing proper nutrients. So you may not need the extra multivitamin supplement if your diet is healthy. Even with a diet plan in place, you may potentially experience a few nutritional deficiencies, the most common of which are listed below.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Believe it or not, roughly 90% of American adults have mild vitamin D deficiency. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about one billion people worldwide have low vitamin D levels. This deficiency is hard to detect because the symptoms are subtle, or they take years to develop. The common signs in adults include muscle weakness or an increased risk of bone fractures. A vitamin D deficiency can also reduce immune response. In order to increase vitamin D levels, try to get 15-30 minutes of sun exposure daily. Focus on mushrooms, but you may need to resort to a vitamin D supplement or a cod liver oil supplement.
Magnesium plays many roles inside the body. It’s essential for optimal teeth and bone structure, but it also works to improve sleep, digestion, and even mental health. It assists with DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis in the body. Low magnesium levels can lead to metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, muscle cramps, irregular heart rhythm, restless leg syndrome, migraines, and more. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that adult males consume between 400-420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per day, while women should consume 310-320 mg daily. Focus on whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables, avocados, bananas, nuts, seeds, and raw cacao powder to increase magnesium intake.
This essential mineral is a primary component of red blood cells. It binds to hemoglobin and helps carry oxygen to cells all over the body. The two types of dietary iron are heme iron and non-heme iron. The former is easily absorbed and found in animal foods, while the latter is found in both plant-based and animal foods. It’s not as easy for the body to absorb non-heme iron. When you don’t have proper iron levels, it’s easy to experience anemia, weakness, reduced brain function, and a weakened immune system. If you want to improve iron levels, start eating more legumes, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, broccoli, spinach, kale, and other leafy greens. One last thing to note is that you should consume vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich foods, because vitamin C increases iron’s bioavailability.
Table salt contains iodine, so people think that they don’t need to worry about this mineral. First off, table salt is horrible for you. Secondly, please worry about iodine. Roughly two billion people worldwide suffer from iodine deficiency, which can result in irregular heart rate, neck swelling, dry skin, weight gain, or irregular menstrual cycles. This deficiency is more common in developing nations than in the U.S., where iodine deficiency affects about 10% of adults. Iodine is a fickle nutrient because you need just the right amount. You don’t want too little and you don’t want too much either. The recommended daily intake of iodine is 150 micrograms per day. Foods like seaweed, dulse, kombu, potatoes, navy beans, wakame, and cranberries are great sources of iodine.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in animal foods. All of the cells in your body require B12 to function, but the body cannot produce it on its own. This is why you have to get it from foods or supplements. B12 deficiency is quite common for people who subscribe to vegetarian, vegan, or raw vegan diets. Several plant-based foods, including nutritional yeast, tempeh, and seaweed, contain vitamin B12, but supplementation is often necessary for plant-based dieters. Signs of deficiency can include pale skin, gas, brain fog, diarrhea, constipation, and numbness or tingling. It’s also possible for certain medications and conditions to interfere with optimal B12 absorption. You can get B12 from the plant-based foods we mentioned, but health experts advise increasing wild caught seafood, organ meat, or grass-fed/grass-finished beef to increase B12 levels.