7 Most Common Nutritional Deficiencies and How to Treat!

The most common nutritional deficiencies and how to treat them should not be ignored as many nutrients are absolutely essential for good health. You can get most of them through a real balanced diet. However, the typical modern diet lacks several very important nutrients.

Most common nutritional deficiencies and how to treat them:

1. Iron deficiency:

Iron deficiency  is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, affecting more than 25% of people worldwide. This number rises to 47% in preschool children. Unless they consume foods rich in Iron or fortified with Iron , they are very likely to lack Iron .

30% of menstruating women may also be deficient due to monthly blood loss. Up to 42% of young pregnant women may also suffer from iron deficiency .

Additionally, vegetarians and vegans are at an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies . They consume only non-heme iron, which is not absorbed as well as heme iron.

The most common consequence of iron deficiency is anemia . The number of red blood cells is decreased, and the blood becomes less able to carry oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms often include tiredness, weakness, a weakened immune system, and impaired brain function.

The best dietary sources of iron include:

  • Red meat: 85 g of ground beef provides almost 30% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Organ meat: A slice of liver (81 g) provides more than 50% of the recommended daily value.
  • Seafood such as clams, mussels and oysters: 85 g of cooked oysters provides about 50% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Canned Sardines: A 106g can provides 34% of the Recommended Daily Value.

The best dietary sources of non-heme iron include:

  • Beans: Half a cup of cooked beans (85 g) provides 33% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and pumpkin seeds: 28 g of roasted pumpkin and pumpkin seeds provide 11% of the recommended daily value.
  • Broccoli, kale and spinach: 28 g of fresh kale provides 5.5% of the recommended daily amount.

However, you should never supplement with Iron unless you really need it. Too much iron can be very harmful.

In addition, Vitamin C can improve iron absorption . Eating foods rich in Vitamin C such as oranges , kale and bell peppers along with foods rich in iron can maximize iron absorption .

2. Iodine deficiency:

Iodine is an essential mineral for normal thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are involved in many processes in the body, such as growth, brain development, and bone maintenance. They also regulate the metabolic rate.

There are good dietary sources of iodine:

  • Seaweed: Just 1g of seaweed contains 460-1000% of the recommended daily value.
  • Fish: 85 grams of baked cod provides 66% of the recommended daily value.
  • Dairy: A cup of plain yogurt provides about 50% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Eggs: One large egg provides 16% of the recommended daily value.

However, keep in mind that these values ​​can vary greatly. Iodine is mostly found in soil and sea, so if the soil is low in iodine , then the food that grows in it will also be low in iodine . Some countries have responded to iodine deficiency by  adding salt, which has successfully reduced the severity of the problem.

3. Vitamin D deficiency:

Vitamin D deficiency is another of the most common nutritional deficiencies. In addition, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions as a steroid hormone in the body. It travels through the bloodstream and into cells, telling them to turn genes on or off.

Almost every cell in the body has a receptor for Vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced from cholesterol in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Thus, people who live far from the equator are highly likely to be disabled as they have less exposure to the sun.

The best dietary sources of vitamin D are;

  • Cod Liver Oil: A single tablespoon contains 227% of the recommended daily value.
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or trout: A small serving of cooked salmon contains approximately 75% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Gem: A large gem contains 7% of the indicated daily value.

People who are truly deficient in Vitamin D should take a supplement or increase their sun exposure. It is very difficult to get enough amounts from diet alone.

4. Vitamin B12 Deficiency:

Vitamin B12 , also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is essential for blood formation as well as brain and nerve function. Also, every cell in your body needs Vitamin B12  to function normally, but the body is unable to produce it. Therefore, we must get it from food or supplements.

Food sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Shellfish, especially clams and oysters: An 85g serving of cooked shellfish provides 1400% of the Recommended Daily Value.
  • Organ meat: a 60 gram slice of liver provides more than 1000% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Meat: A 170 gram small steak provides 150% of the recommended daily value.
  • Eggs: Each whole egg provides about 6% of the daily recommended amount.
  • Dairy products: A cup of whole milk provides about 18% of the recommended daily value.

Large amounts of Vitamin B12 are not considered harmful because they are often poorly absorbed and excessive amounts are passed through the urine.

5. Calcium deficiency:

Calcium is essential for all cells and one of the most common nutritional deficiencies  is calcium . Mineralizes bones and teeth, especially during periods of rapid growth. It is also very important for bone maintenance. In addition, calcium plays a role as a signaling molecule throughout the body. Without it, our heart, muscles and nerves would not be able to function.

Dietary sources of calcium include:

  • Boneless fish: a can of sardines contains 44% of the recommended daily intake.
  • Dairy Products: A glass of milk contains 35% of the recommended daily value.
  • Dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach, bok choy and broccoli: 28 grams of fresh kale provides 5.6% of the recommended daily amount.

The effectiveness and safety of calcium supplements has been somewhat debated in recent years. Some studies have found an increased risk of heart disease in people who take calcium supplements , although other studies have found no effects.

While it’s better to get calcium from food than supplements, calcium supplements seem to benefit people who aren’t getting enough in their diet.

6. Vitamin A Deficiency:

Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It helps in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin, teeth, bones and cell membranes. In addition, it produces our eye pigments – which are necessary for vision.

More than 75% of people consuming a Western diet are getting more than enough Vitamin A and don’t have to worry about deficiency. However, vitamin A deficiency is very common in many developing countries. In addition, about 44% to 50% of preschool-age children in certain regions are deficient in vitamin A. That number is around 30% in Indian women.

Vitamin A deficiency can cause temporary and permanent eye damage, and can even lead to blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in the world, being one of the most common nutritional deficiencies . Vitamin A deficiency can also suppress immune function and increase mortality, especially among children and pregnant or lactating women.

Dietary sources of preformed vitamin A include:

  • Organ Meat: A 60-gram slice of beef liver provides more than 800% of the recommended daily intake.
  • Fish Liver Oil: One tablespoon contains approximately 500% of the recommended daily amount.

Dietary sources of beta-carotene (Pro-Vitamin A) include:

  • Sweet Potato: A half of cooked Sweet Potato (170 g) contains 150% of the Recommended Daily Value.
  • Carrots: One large carrot provides 75% of the recommended daily intake.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables: 28 grams of fresh spinach provides 18% of the recommended daily amount.

While it is very important to consume sufficient amounts of Vitamin A , it is generally not recommended to consume very large amounts of preformed Vitamin A as it can cause toxicity. This does not apply to pro-vitamin A such as Beta- carotene . A high consumption can turn the skin orange, but it is not dangerous.

7. Magnesium Deficiency:

Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. In addition, Magnesium is an essential mineral in the body. It is essential for bone and tooth structure and is also involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions. Almost half of Brazil’s population (48%) consumed less than the required amount of magnesium in 2005-2006.

Low magnesium intake and blood levels have been linked to a number of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Nutritional deficiencies such as low levels of magnesium are particularly common among hospitalized patients. Some studies have found that 9–65% of them are magnesium deficient. In addition, this can be caused by illness, medication use, reduced digestive function, or inadequate consumption of magnesium .

Useful links: 

The main symptoms of severe magnesium deficiency include abnormal heart rhythm, muscle cramps , restless legs syndrome , fatigue and migraines. More subtle, long-term symptoms that may not be noticed include insulin resistance and high blood pressure.

Food sources of magnesium include:

  • Whole Grains: One cup of oats (170 g) contains 74% of the recommended daily intake.
  • Nuts: 20 almonds provide 17% of the recommended daily value.
  • Dark chocolate: 30 grams of dark chocolate (70–85%) provides 15% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Leafy Vegetables and Greens: 30 grams of raw spinach provides 6% of the recommended daily value.

Final considerations:

  • It is possible to be deficient in almost every nutrient, but these are the  most common nutritional deficiencies.
  • Children, young women, the elderly and vegetarians appear to be at increased risk for various disabilities.
  • The best way to avoid a deficiency is to eat a balanced, real diet that includes nutrient-dense foods (both plants and animals).
  • However, supplements may be necessary when it is impossible to get enough through the diet.

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