Do you eat red meat?
What about seafood?
Do you consume enough leafy green vegetables?
If you answered NO to any of the above, you could have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. And while sometimes there are symptoms involved to let you know there’s a problem, such as feeling tired and sluggish, other times it takes years for the repercussions of vitamin and mineral deficiencies to catch up with you.
It’s time to learn about 4 of the most common deficiencies, the symptoms and repercussions that can arise, as well as what you can do to reverse the deficiency.
Iron is important because it’s the main component of red blood cells; it binds with haemoglobin to transport oxygen to your cells.
Iron deficiency is probably the most common deficiency in North America. In fact, 25 percent of the population worldwide is iron deficient!
It’s more common in women than men, and it’s especially prevalent in vegetarians and vegans, since iron is found in high doses red meat and shellfish.
If you feel tired, weak, or your immune system doesn’t seem to be fighting off illnesses as fast as you think it should, you might be iron deficient.
Foods high in iron include:
- Red meat (3 ounces of ground beef provides almost 30% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron
- Organ meat: One slice of liver provides 50% of your RDI
- Shellfish, including clams, mussels and oysters, as well as canned sardines.
- Beans: Half a cup of kidney beans gives you 33% of your RDI
Foods with iron, but to a lesser quantity include:
- Seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
- Broccoli, kale and spinach
Vitamin D works like a steroid hormone in the body and travels through the blood into the cells, telling the receptors to turn genes on and off.
Basically the best place to get Vitamin D is from the sun: It gets produced out of cholesterol in your skin when it gets exposed to the sun. So if you live in a place where there’s little to no sunlight much of the year, there’s a good chance you could be deficient in Vitamin D. In the US alone, 42% of people have experienced Vitamin D deficiency at one point or other. The older you get, the more your chances increase.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include muscle weakness, bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. It can also lead to decreased immune function and an increased risk of cancer.
Though you really do need sun to get enough vitamin D, some foods that contain it include:
- Cod liver oil: One Tbsp. has 227% of your RDI!!
- Fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel and trout
- Egg yolks
If you know your body doesn’t see much sunlight, it’s highly recommended that you take Vitamin D supplements, since it’s really tough to get enough of it from your diet.
Also known as cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is crucial for blood formation, and for nerve and brain function.
Again, vegetarians and vegans are susceptible to becoming deficient.
One of the other challenges with Vitamin B12 is it’s harder for the body to absorb than other vitamins, hence why may people get vitamin B12 injections if they’re deficient. Read about Myers’ Cocktail (Vitamin B injections) Here
Common problems of this deficiency include impaired brain function and elevated homocysteine levels, meaning you become more susceptible to several diseases.
Foods that contain Vitamin B12:
- Shellfish: 3 ounces of cooked clams gives you 1400% of your RDI!
- Organ meat
- Milk products
- Red meat
Calcium mineralizes bone and teeth. It’s especially important when you’re a kid and growing. It’s also important for proper heart and muscle function.
The most common problems that arise when you’re deficient include soft bones in children and osteoporosis in older adults.
Foods that are high in calcium include:
Fish with bones
Dairy products: You mom was right when she said, “Drink your milk!”
Dark green vegetables, like kale, spinach, bok chou and broccoli.
Like Vitamin D, calcium is a good one to supplement in pill form, especially if you don’t eat much of the above foods.
Bottom line, if you don’t eat a balanced diet, or there are things you don’t eat, such as red meat or seafood, or you know don’t eat enough leafy green vegetables, and you're unwilling to make the diet changes, it might be wise to supplement to ensure you don’t become deficient!