Nutritional deficiency, also called dietary deficiency, occurs when a person does not intake one or more nutrients in sufficient quantities. There are many possible nutritional deficiencies, but vitamin D and the minerals magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium are the 5 most common that send thousands of people to hospital each year.
Top 5 Nutritional Deficiencies
1 – Vitamin D deficiency
It is estimated that nearly 80% of the Western population and almost all the elderly are deficient in vitamin D. It is among the top 5 nutritional deficiencies. The reason the insufficiency decreases with age is the fact after a certain age, the body synthesizes vitamin D more easily. However, you are higher risk this inadequacy if you are vegan or living inside mostly. Individuals living in severe or extremely cold climate are also at right.
Vitamin D is involved in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestines, then in the reabsorption by the kidneys. It is Essential for growth during infancy. In addition, it ensures the maintenance of bone mass in adulthood. 80% of our needs are synthesized by the action of UVB radiation from the sun and the rest must be obtained from the foods we eat.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Dry skin
- Bone pain
- Tooth decay
- Muscular weakness
- Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis)
- Softening of the bones (osteomalacia).
In children, vitamin D deficiency may cause rickets, a disease of the growth and ossification characterized by inadequate calcification of cartilage and bone.
What are the sources of vitamin D?
During Winter, or whenever you do not have the opportunity to be exposed to the sun, you need to adopt a diet that contains foods rich in vitamin D: salmon, cod liver oil, organic soy products, trout, and veal liver. Certain mushrooms also provide your body with vitamin D.
2 – Magnesium deficiency
This is one of the top nutritional deficiencies in the world. Magnesium is a mineral essential to the proper functioning of our body. It works closely with sodium, potassium and calcium, with which it must constantly remain in balance in the body. Most of us do not get enough from our food. This nutritional deficiency can also be resulted from stress or taking certain drugs, such as chemotherapy medications.
Magnesium deficiency can manifest by causing:
- Depression symptoms
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headaches and dizziness
- Hormone imbalance
- Muscle spasm (spasm of the eyelids for example).
What are the sources of magnesium?
To treat your magnesium deficiency, you have to eat green leafy vegetables, seaweed, seafood, beans, cocoa or Brazil nuts. You can also buy the flakes, making your own oil, and do transdermal magnesium therapy (absorption through the skin); it goes directly into your blood stream this way.
3 – Zinc deficiency
Normally, the body needs very little zinc, but its presence is essential to the functioning of the immune system and many organs in the body such as the prostate. Yet, many people suffer from zinc deficiency without knowing it. It is a common nutritional deficiency that sends people to hospital.
Zinc plays an important role in growth, immune response, neurological and reproductive functions. It participates in the synthesis of DNA and proteins. It also plays an important role in modulating mood and learning, as well as protecting the vision, taste and smell. It intervenes in the process of blood coagulation, in the function of the thyroid hormone, as well as in the metabolism of insulin.
Low levels in the body can have real consequences on health. Some zinc deficiency symptoms include:
- Frequent colds
- Lack of appetite
- Numbness brain
- Small white spots on the nails
- Fragile or dull hair, or hair falling in larger quantities than usual.
Alcoholics, diabetics, people with kidney problems, or HIV are more likely to suffer from zinc deficiency. Disorders of the digestive system that impair proper absorption of the nutrients can also lead to zinc deficiency.
What are the sources of Zinc?
Zinc is found in high levels in oysters, red meat and sesame seeds. It is also found in legumes and nuts. You can also get this mineral from pumpkin seeds. However, it is scientifically believed zinc from animal source is twice better absorbed than receiving it from plants.
4 – Iron deficiency
Iron deficiency is also a common nutritional deficiency. This mineral is essential for the proper functioning of the body. It has a fundamental role in the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin contained in the muscles. Iron also plays a major role in production of many enzymes essential to the functioning of the organs.
Iron is present in very small quantities in the body and a portion is removed daily. Therefore, to maintain a sufficient amount in the blood, we need to replace the daily losses from the very food we eat in order to avoid deficiency.
Minor Iron deficiency can result in:
- Hair loss
- Thermal control disorders
- Decrease in resistance to infection
- Reduction in the physical and intellectual capacity.
When the deficiency prolongs or become serious, it is called anemia and can be characterized by the following symptoms:
- Exercise intolerance
- Abnormal rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- Paleness of the skin and mucous membranes
- Swelling in the lower legs (this is serious and requires immediate medical attention).
People mostly at risk of iron deficiency anemia are premenopausal women, adolescents and babies that are not breastfed. People who do not eat enough meat and or green leafy vegetables are at higher risk. People who practice physical exercise intensely and regularly and those receiving dialysis are also likely to suffer from anemia.
What are the sources of Iron?
The best sources of iron are whole grain cereals, tofu, clams, liver, beef, lamb, sunflower seeds, nuts, beans, dark leafy greens, and dark chocolate.
5 – Calcium deficiency
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Almost 99% of the calcium is concentrated in the bones and teeth. The rest plays a vital role in the proper functioning of all body cells, including muscle cells and nerve cells. Calcium is also involved in kidney function, blood clotting mechanism and several enzymatic processes. Yet, it is a common nutritional deficiency.
The increased proportion of empty calories and processed foods in the modern diet and insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables cause the North American diet typically provides less calcium than the recommended intakes.
Deficiency in this mineral can be diagnosed only by using laboratory analysis. These observable external signs only appear in the very long term:
- Teeth and gum problems
- Kidney problems.
In addition, calcium deficiency in growing children and adolescents may prevent the achievement of optimal bone mass.
What are the sources of calcium?
Foods rich in calcium are dairy products, fish, oilseeds (sunflower or sesame, and others), legumes, nuts, green vegetables and many fruits.
When not providing to the body all the necessary elements it needs, this leads to nutritional deficiencies, and thus health problems. To avoid that, adopt a healthy diet which is varied and balanced. Eat most foods that provide your body enough intakes of Vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. In short, make your very own foods your daily multivitamins and minerals.