You’ve heard it before—you are what you eat. This is becoming more and more evident in our modern society where there are constant studies and research into nutrition and its effects on the human body.
The odd thing is, even though we have all of this information readily available, people are still opting to eat diets that lack many of the vitamins and minerals they need on a daily basis. When you subsist on a fast food diet that completely ignores common wisdom about healthy food choices, your body simply cannot function at its best.
The way to combat this is to fuel your body well so it can do its job and keep you healthy. Learning about the top five nutrient deficiencies in society today will help you focus on getting what your body needs to thrive.
Top 5 Nutrient Deficiencies in Modern Society
If you feel tired and run-down all the time, it could be because you’re one of many people suffering from an iron deficiency. Iron is a key mineral in the diet and it’s necessary to get oxygen into your blood and then circulated through your body.
There are a couple different blood tests your healthcare provider can do to check your blood to make sure you are getting enough iron. Every cell in the body needs iron, so it’s key to make sure you’re getting all that you need.
While you can take iron in supplemental form, you can also get it directly from certain foods. Animal foods like beef or calf hearts, chicken, eggs, liver, ham, pork, red salmon, and sardines contain heme iron which is very easily absorbed by the body.
Plants like beets, mustard greens, kale, leaks, spinach, swiss chard, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can also provide iron. You can even find breakfast cereals and grains that are fortified with iron.
Your recommended daily intake of iron varies by age and gender, so you’ll need to check and make sure you’re getting the right amount.
Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones. You probably have heard that that’s calcium’s role, and it is, but did you know that calcium can only be absorbed by your body when vitamin D is present?
This means that you may be consuming all the calcium your body needs (but you probably aren’t as it’s one of the most deficient nutrients also) but if you’re not getting any vitamin D, then your bones and muscles are not getting any be benefit from that calcium.
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because your body converts a chemical in your skin when it’s exposed to direct sunlight, giving you this important vitamin. Vitamin D isn’t found in many food sources outside of fish, but you can find some foods that are fortified with vitamin D.
If you are concerned you’re not getting enough sunlight to really get the vitamin D your body needs, a supplement might be your best bet to ensure you get this crucial vitamin.
Now that we’ve mentioned Vitamin D, we have to mention its counterpart: calcium. Calcium is not only important for building strong bones and muscles, it’s also what enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat.
Every day you lose calcium through a variety of ways, and your body simply can’t produce it on its own. This is why it’s such a very important part of your diet.
If you’re not eating enough calcium or taking a supplement, your body needs to find it from somewhere. As a result, it leaches the calcium out of your bones, which can lead to serious long-term complications.
Luckily, calcium is found in a lot of foods: almost all dairy products are high in calcium, and it can also be found in some green, plant-based foods. There are also a lot of foods that are fortified with calcium, so you don’t have to take an outside source of it, but supplements are always a convenient option.
Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin, but you’ll not often hear that name. Its key roles are assisting in the formation of red blood cells, cell metabolism, nerve function, and the production of DNA.
B12 is found in poultry, meat, fish, and dairy products, so it is abundantly found in many food items. It also can be stored in the body so it’s not one that’s commonly thought of as something people lack—that is unless the person is vegetarian or vegan.
Unfortunately plant-based foods do not have vitamin B12, and, with more and more people opting for foods that don’t include meats or dairy, the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency is on the rise. Luckily, there are supplements that can quickly and easily remedy this situation.
Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 different chemical reactions in your body; everything from your muscles to your nerves need this mineral to function properly. Interestingly, the kidneys have a unique relationship with magnesium in that they can reduce the amount lost in urine to keep more magnesium in your body if needed.
Unfortunately, there are still people who face magnesium deficiencies whether because of poor diet choices, digestive disorders, or because of the medications they take.
If you’re looking to consume more magnesium, focus on eating leafy green vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish. There are also supplements if you don’t eat enough of these foods.
Fighting Off Deficiencies
Even armed with all that we know about good nutrition, it’s hard to get all of the nutrients your body needs on a regular basis with your busy lifestyle. Not eating properly can leave you feeling lethargic, susceptible to illness and disease, and not functioning at your best.
The five most common nutrient deficiencies are currently; magnesium, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and iron. You can avoid the problems associated with these nutrient deficiencies by making a concerted effort to consume more foods with them or to take a supplement.
If you do think you have a severe deficiency of any nutrients, it’s best to connect with your healthcare provider to test to see if there is indeed a problem or if you have any other, more serious, conditions that are causing your symptoms. At that time, you can then discuss any needed diet changes or supplements.
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