Nutrition

Could You Have a Nutrient Deficiency? (+ 5 Common Micronutrient Deficiencies)

Could you have a nutrient deficiency?

While it’s not something you likely ask yourself on a regular basis, the truth of the matter is that studies have shown at least 31 percent of Americans are deficient in at least one essential micronutrient. [1]

Additionally, many experts estimate the number is far greater—as much as an astonishing 90 percent!

But what does this mean for our health? And which nutrient deficiencies are the most common?

Let’s dive in and discuss common nutrient deficiencies along with ways you can make sure you’re staying sufficient in them.

 

Nutrient deficiency - Dr. Pingel

 

The Danger of Having a Nutrient Deficiency

If having a nutrient deficiency is so common, what’s the harm? After all, many people seem to be going about their live just fine, right?

Not really—if you really think about it, our health as a nation has been steadily declining for a while now.

Rates of inflammatory chronic disease are on the rise, along with obesity, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue … the list goes on.

Well, believe it or not, having a nutritional deficiency is linked to all of these conditions. Here’s how …

A couple of years ago, I explained how stress is a “nutrient thief” and “steals” your nutrients from your body.

In fact, I likened your body and nutrients to a manufacturing assembly line, with several individual parts arranged in a specific order to produce a final product. Let’s revisit that for a moment.

Think of the individual parts of the assembly line as nutrients and the final product as your body’s ability to function properly.

For example, vitamin B12 helps your body produce energy, and that’s a crucial part of your well-being. Without it, you’re going to feel fatigued.

Meanwhile, your body must have adequate amounts of both vitamins C and B6 to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, a hormone related to your mood, appetite, memory, sleeping habits, and more.

Without adequate amounts of these vitamin, you’re going to be at increased risk of experiencing insomnia, depression, anxiety, and more. See the connection?

If you’re deficient in these nutrients, all of the important functions in your body will be impacted.

Here’s the hard proof: One study revealed that participants with low levels of vitamin B6 were more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Accordingly, the researchers hypothesized that vitamin B6 supplementation may help improve these symptoms. [2]

Now that you get the idea, let’s take a look at some of the most common nutrient deficiencies and what they mean for your health.

 

5 Common Nutrient Deficiencies

Here are five top nutrient deficiencies, how common they are, and how it impacts your health.

1. Magnesium

How common is it?

When it comes to magnesium sufficiency, we have a very real problem here in the U.S.

It’s currently estimated that about 60 percent of adults don’t consume the average dietary intake of magnesium, and 45 percent of Americans are estimated to have this nutrient deficiency.

How does it impact your health?

Magnesium is an extremely important mineral that has over 800 different essential roles within the body—meaning your body can’t function without it.

Magnesium is necessary for many bodily processes, such as regulating blood pressure, blood sugar control, and building proteins.

It’s also a co-factor in over 300 enzymes, making it essential for making those enzymes work properly. Basically, any process that requires energy requires magnesium.

While up to 60 percent of the magnesium in your body is found in your bones, there’s also some stored in your soft tissues and blood serum.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms are associated with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, asthma, and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, migraine headaches, and restless legs syndrome (RLS).  [34, 56]

2. Vitamin D

How common is it?

This is another quite common nutrient deficiency, with 46.1 percent of Americans being deficient in Vitamin D. [7]

How does it impact your health?

Vitamin D3 deficiency symptoms include muscle pain, fatigue, and depression. [8] Additional signs include experiencing regular illness (such as the common cold or flu), increasing and worsening autoimmune disease symptoms, osteopenia, and more.

It’s worth noting that researchers have been trying to draw clear and concrete associations between vitamin D levels and cortisol levels (the stress hormone), as well as to other endocrine disorders, such as PCOS, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid diseases (such as Hashimoto’s and Graves’), and Addison’s disease. [8]

3. Vitamin B12

How common is it?

Believe it or not, 40 percent of Americans are actually deficient in vitamin B12. [9]

How does it impact your health?

Known to help reset your circadian rhythm, vitamin B12 helps improve your sleep and normalize cortisol levels. It is also involved in blood cell and DNA production. So, when you’re experience a nutrient deficiency in vitamin B12, each of these areas will be impacted.

Also, it’s important to know that B vitamins have relationships with one another—specifically vitamin B6, B12, and B9 (or folate).

This means that if each of these levels aren’t properly balanced and sufficient, it can result in a myriad of health concerns, such as anemia, hypertension, infertility, hormone irregularities, fatigue, and much more.

4. Vitamin A

How common is it?

This nutrient deficiency is considered one of the most prevalent micronutrient deficiencies in the world.

It mainly impacts children in developing countries, affecting about 30 percent of children under age 5 around the globe. []

How does it impact your health?

Research has determined that adequate consumption of vitamin A is absolutely essential for maintaining a strong immune system.

Basically, a vitamin A deficiency blocks the normal regeneration of your mucosal barriers, which is known to impair your natural immunity to bacteria and viruses. [11]

Additionally, night blindness is one of the first signs of being deficient in vitamin A! [12] Plus, this nutrient deficiency is a major cause of preventable childhood blindness. []

5. Iron

How common is it?

Believe it or not, iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency, affecting 30 percent of women and children in the U.S. [14]

How does it impact your health?

This nutrient deficiency is known to cause extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, cold hands and feet, chest pain, and more.

If left untreated, you could develop heart problems (failure) and children can experience growth problems. [15]

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