Pause for a second, and think back to what you ate during the day. If you can’t remember the last time you ate something that was unprocessed, fresh and healthy, you’re doing it wrong! By putting yourself in the path of common nutrient deficiencies, you are willingly allowing your body to suffer from easily avoidable diseases.
Iron is very important for the human body because it helps in carrying oxygen to your muscles and brain. Iron deficiency is one the most common nutritional deficiencies known. Low levels of iron can cause a decrease in the red blood cell count. This causes a reduced blood and oxygen delivery supply to some of the most vital organs. Symptoms of low blood counts, such as fatigue, low body temperature and poor cognition, indicate iron deficiency anemia. If anemia persists, the immune system can lose effectiveness and infections can develop. Anemia is particularly common in women, especially during their child-bearing years. In fact, it's the most common deficiency according to WHO, affecting about 1 billion people. The best sources of iron are heme iron and is found only in animal products such as meat, poultry and fish. Non-heme iron is found in plant and animal products such as leafy greens, beans, fortified cereals, egg yolks, tofu and dried fruit. Non-heme iron is less readily-absorbed by the body. However, you can increase iron absorption of these foods by combining them with foods that are good source of vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.
Not many of us are aware of the existence of, let alone the importance of Vitamin K. Vitamin K, which can be obtained from animal products such as egg yolk, liver, butter, cheese and fish eggs, is often sidestepped when vitamin deficiencies are talked about. And that is precisely why more and more people are suffering from vitamin K deficiency symptoms which include osteoporosis, tartar build-up on the teeth leading to eventual tooth decay, and arterial calcification. Vegetarians and individuals following a vegan diet should consult their health practitioners so that suitable supplements can be prescribed for them.
Iodine might be a trace element, but its effects on the body are anything but minimal. If you’re wondering why iodine deficiencies have made an appearance on the common nutrient deficiencies list, it’s because cases of iron deficiency are not only limited to developing countries anymore. Iron deficiency symptoms include hypothyroidism (infertility, loss of libido, inability to lose weight, fatigue, dry skin, and hair loss among others), cretinism (low IQ and abnormal neurodevelopment in the fetus), and goiter (visibly enlarged thyroid gland). Iodine can be obtained from seafood (fish, shellfish etc), seaweed, iodized salt and iodine supplements.
The adverse effects of suffering from an iron deficiency are quite well-known. Iron is essential for the normal functioning of the human body. It plays a pivotal role in transporting oxygen around the body to all the organs, muscles and cells that require it for their routine functioning. Iron deficiency anemia is a result of low levels of iron in the body. Additional symptoms include fatigue, low body temperature and poor cognition. Two main sources of iron are available to fulfill the body’s iron requirements; heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron, obtained from animal products such as meat and fish, is the superior source of iron out of the two due to its readily-absorbable nature. Non-heme sources include leafy greens, beans, dried fruit and fortified cereals. To get the best out of non-heme sources, couple these foods with good sources of vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C increases iron absorption from non-heme food sources.
Vegetarians are highly vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiencies since the primary source of obtaining vitamin B12 is through animal products such as red meat, liver, eggs and dairy produce. The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can range from lethargy, unwanted weight loss, depression, anxiety, to shortness of breath and psychosis. Failing to fulfill the body’s vitamin B12 requirements can lead to the development of anemia, mild nerve damage leading to twitching eyelids, itching tongue and a tingling sensation in the palms, memory problems, white skin spots and autism spectrum disorder in children. Apart from vegetarians or those following a vegan diet, individuals suffering from gastrointestinal disorders are also susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency disease. It is highly recommended that the at-risk groups visit their health practitioners and get their vitamin B12 levels checked. In case the vitamin B12 level is lower than it should be, the health practitioner will prescribe supplements to make up for the discrepancy.
Have you been giving healthy foods the cold shoulder? Your parents were onto something when they forced you to eat fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods on a daily basis. All these healthy foods have one essential thing in common; they are chock full of nutrients! Not getting your required daily dose of vitamins and minerals can leave you suffering from common nutrient deficiencies. These diseases can be easily avoided by being mindful of what you eat. Apart from causing numerous unpleasant and painful symptoms, nutritional deficiency diseases can also stunt an individual’s normal growth and development. The most common nutrient deficiencies are due to Vitamin K, Iodine, Iron, vitamin B12 and Magnesium.