Common Nutrient Deficiencies and What You Can Do About Them
A strong, healthy body is your first line of defense against disease. Getting the proper amount of the right nutrients is essential to ensure all the body processes are running efficiently and correctly. Generally, eating a healthy diet does not necessarily guarantee that you are getting all the right nutrients. In fact, there are common nutrient deficiencies that many people don’t even realize they have.
Getting Enough Calcium
Calcium is an important mineral that helps maintain strong bones and control nerve and muscle function, but many people (especially women) tend to have low calcium. So how do you know if you aren’t getting enough calcium? Symptoms of severely low calcium include muscle cramps, poor appetite, fatigue, and abnormal heart rhythms. Make sure you’re getting sufficient calcium with at least three servings of calcium-rich foods daily, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and dark leafy greens. Whole food sources of calcium are best, but you could also speak to your doctor about calcium supplements if you are concerned about your calcium intake.
Sunny Vitamin D
Vitamin D, like calcium, is vital to bone health. In fact, your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. When calcium is not actually absorbed into the body, it can park in soft tissues and other areas, causing additional health problems. Signs of a vitamin D deficiency aren’t exact but may include muscle weakness or aches and fatigue. Long term vitamin D deficiency can actually lead to the softening of bones, which could lead to various health issues, including recurring injury.
The sun provides a natural source of vitamin D and should be taken advantage of, but safely. According to Dr. Mercola, “… due to decades of professional and media misinformation, the typical American believes they should avoid the midday sun and need to use sunscreen before, and several times during, sun exposure.” While it is imperative to avoid sunburn, it is not necessary to wear sunscreen constantly as it can block the UVB rays your skin needs to make vitamin D3. Other sources for vitamin D include fortified milk or yogurt and fatty fish, such as salmon.
Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that is very important for the proper functioning of all organs, tissues, and cells in the human body. Short-term potassium deficiency may result from vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, antibiotics, or chronic conditions such as kidney disease and eating disorders. Signs of potassium deficiency may include muscle weakness, weight loss, and constipation. In cases of severe deficiency, there may also be abnormal heart rhythm. Good sources of potassium include, whole grains, bananas, beans, milk, peas and other vegetables. Additionally, dark fruit juices, such as black mulberry, tart cherry, and pomegranate are also high in potassium.
Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells, and thus, for transporting oxygen through the body. If you are anemic, your body can’t effectively carry oxygen and this most often results in fatigue but may also cause pale skin and thin, dull, sparse hair.
Iron-fortified cereal, beef, lentils, spinach, oysters, and beans, especially chickpeas, kidney beans, and white beans, are good sources of iron.