The Standard Western Diet is packed full of foods that are high in both fat and sugar, yet low in nutrients. As obesity rates sore, it’s hard to believe that people are starving in terms of nutrition. From iron to vitamin A, it’s clear that the majority of the population is overeating, yet underfed in terms of what the body truly needs.
When your body gets all the nutrients it needs, it’s able to maintain optimal function at the most basic cellular level. From nerve signaling to digestion, nutrients affect internal processes. Regardless of the deficiencies you suffer from, you need to address them as soon as possible.
The Most Common Deficiencies You Should Be Aware Of
Of course, nutrient deficiencies will impact daily functioning, however, they can also increase your risk of disease. For instance, a vitamin D and calcium deficiency, could result in osteoporosis later on in life. If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms below, it’s recommended that you change your diet and explore the benefits of supplementation.
A common deficiency amongst vegetarians and vegetables who do not supplement their diets properly, a lack of iron can lead to a whole host of health issues. This is what leads to anemia, resulting in a list of problematic symptoms. Without iron, your body cannot make hemoglobin — a protein that carries oxygen throughout your body.
Without being aware, many people live with extreme fatigue, even though it’s generally easy to treat. You may also feel weak, dizzy, or cold — headaches and shortness of breath are also key signs. To increase your intake, consume more spinach, lentils, grass-fed beef, oysters, and beans.
Folate, also known as folic acid, is a vitamin that is particularly important for women who plan on becoming pregnant. Taken as a prenatal vitamin, it will help reduce one’s risk of neural tube defects within their unborn child. For those who are not pregnant, folate is still required in order to regulate cells — playing a key role in DNA synthesis and repair.
Some common symptoms include mouth ulcers, swollen tongue, and fatigue. To meet your need, the recommended amount will depend on your age. Typically, for individuals between the ages of 14-70 years old, 400 micrograms is recommended on a daily basis. To make sure you get enough, consume more folate-rich foods, including beans, leafy greens, oranges, and chickpeas.
- Vitamin B12
Once again, if you do not eat meat, ensure that you’re eating plenty of whole foods, which are high in protein and B-complex vitamins. Not only does vitamin B12 help produce DNA, but also neurotransmitters in the brain. Some of the most common symptoms include numbness in the legs, feet, and hands, weakness, paranoia, memory loss, fatigue, and more.
Once again, since this vitamin helps maintain healthy red blood cells, feeling tired is generally a key sign. Affecting nerves as well, low levels often lead to poor cognitive functioning. In some cases, it’s believed that a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to more serious issues, including an increased risk of heart disease and digestive disorders.
- Vitamin D
Believe it or not, a large percentage of individuals do not get enough of the ‘sunshine’ vitamin. Unlike years ago, when most people worked outdoors, many careers today, require employees to stay indoors 8+ hours a day. For some, that means they go to work before the sun has risen and leave after it’s set.
Without enough vitamin D, your bones can begin to suffer. Long-term, brittle bones tend to result as this deficiency leads to softening of the bones. You don’t need to overdo it — simply spend 15-20 minutes outside daily, while seeking quality supplementation. You can also consume vitamin D within fortified dairy, fish, and eggs.
If you have been suffering from a range of unexplained symptoms, you may be suffering from one or more deficiencies. A simple blood test can generally provide you with the answers you need, so that you can get on-track. If you would like to avoid blood work, make key changes to your diet and then take notes.
What days do you feel best? On those days, what were you eating? A food journal can help you better understand your needs, and also provide your doctor with a more thorough history. Make sure you’re eating enough — focusing on foods that provide your body with the fuel and nutrients it desires.