Critical Nutrient Deficiencies
While a vitamin deficiency can wreak havoc on your health, a visit to the vitamin supplement aisle at your local health food store can easily become overwhelming.
It can be hard to determine what to get and where to focus. While each offers its own unique benefits, there are some that are more essential than others and some that you don’t want to ignore.
Instead of focusing solely on the vitamins on the shelf, it’s important to first understand the role that some key vitamins and minerals play in overall health and functioning. Here are three deficiencies and how to avoid them.
While iodine is typically found in table salt, it is a common deficiency. In fact, it was first placed in table salt because of its importance. Although this placement has helped guard against iodine deficiencies, it is still quite common in many countries (including France and the UK).
As we embrace the use of non-iodized salt, gravitate toward sea salt and otherwise work to eliminate salt from our diet, our risk for deficiency increases. Many of us do not eat enough iodine rich foods, such as seaweed and seafood. In addition to this, we may also be eating excessive amounts of goitrogen-rich foods like broccoli.
The key to combating iodine deficiency is in knowing what foods to incorporate into our diets, not in piling on the salt. Be sure to eat seafood including fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Whenever possible avoid frying these items as that often strips them of their nutritional value. Opt instead to grill or bake these foods.
Alternatively, consider Kelp supplements lodoral, losol, or Lugol’s solution. Just don’t go overboard. Aim for around 150 – 300 mcg per day. If you rely on food choices as opposed to supplements, you’re less likely to get too much of a good thing when trying to avoid critical nutrient deficiencies.
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While its importance is well known, magnesium deficiency is all too common. This is primarily due to the fact that most people are unable to get the recommended daily allowance through diet alone.
The consequences of lowered intake of magnesium are linked to metabolic syndromes, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. Additionally, deficiencies are marked by insulin resistance, migraines, constipation, cramping, hypertension and restless leg syndrome.
Since magnesium is found in the soil, magnesium rich foods are usually plant foods. However, there are some areas of the country that have low levels of magnesium in the soil. Therefore, eating leafy greens isn’t always enough, even if you eat them frequently.
There are several options in order to address magnesium deficiency. While it is important to indulge in leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard, you can also obtain magnesium from nuts, seeds, espresso, dark chocolate and halibut. Mineral water is also a great source of magnesium, but ultimately supplements may be needed with a minimum dosage of 400 milligrams daily.
Although its popularity has risen in the past few years, the importance of B12 is not to be dismissed as simply a trend. Deficiency is also quite common, despite the fact that it’s easily found in meat and dairy products.
Symptoms of deficiency include changes in weight, lethargy, symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s, anxiety and depression. Vitamin B12 deficiency has also been linked to autism in children.
Because B12 is found in meat and dairy products, a deficiency is often overlooked. Since these foods are common staples in our diet, there is the assumption that we ingest plenty through diet alone.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially as we age and are less able to process and absorb the nutrients in our food. Add in digestive disorders that can further affect absorption and the problem of deficiency grows. Vegetarians and vegans are also at high risk of deficiency since they do not eat animal products. Apart from meat-liver, salmon and sardines are also high in B12.
Since even those who regularly eat meat are still at risk of deficiency, supplements are often recommended. For some, supplements are a requirement rather than just a suggestion (those with digestive disorders and the older population in general).
Among supplement options, B12 injections are preferred since the shot is delivered straight to the bloodstream. This allows for immediate absorption of the full dose.
Additionally, vitamin B12 injections don’t usually need to be administered as often as oral pills. Oral pills must be taken daily. Vitamin B12 injections, like those from Amino Pharmaceuticals, only need to be administered one to two times per month.
While oral supplements are better than nothing, they are often coated with additional materials in order to guard against digestion and much of its potency is lost along the way.
Each of these three vitamins and nutrients are necessary in keeping our body healthy by functioning at its fullest. While there are many important nutrients, don’t get overwhelmed.
Begin with these critical nutrient deficiencies and focus on maintaining adequate levels in order to strengthen your body and mind. If supplementation is necessary, understand the dosage and limitations and make an informed decision for you and your health.
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