7 Common Nutrient Deficiencies
Do you regularly experience muscle aches, fatigue, low energy, constipation or memory loss? Have you “gotten used to it”, reasoning that it’s just your body getting older? Many symptoms thought to be associated with aging or a few nights of marginal sleep are actually a result of nutrient deficiencies. Here are some common deficiencies, their symptoms, and ways to combat them to get your zest for life back.
Calcium is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system. Signs of low calcium include fatigue, muscle cramps, numbness or tingling of fingers, abnormal blood pressure, and a poor appetite. To make sure you’re getting enough, have at least three servings of calcium-rich foods per day like almonds and broccoli. Calcium-fortified orange juice and dark, leafy greens are also good.
Vitamin D is critical for bone health. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be vague — fatigue, and muscle aches or weakness, aching bones, or feeling down are a few. Long term effects of a vitamin D deficiency can lead to softening of the bones, especially if you are overweight or over 50. To get enough vitamin D, eat foods such as salmon, tuna, eggs or mushrooms at least twice a week. You could also take a cod liver oil supplement and find a few minutes each day to spend in the sunshine.
Potassium helps the kidneys, heart, and other organs work properly. Diarrhea or vomiting, excessive sweating, or antibiotics can result in a potassium deficiency. Symptoms of a Potassium deficiency include weight loss, muscle weakness, constipation, abdominal cramping and bloating, or tingling or numbness. Natural sources of potassium include bananas, whole grains, avocado, coconut water, spinach, beans, and peas.
Iron in your body helps make a protein called hemoglobin, which then assists in carrying oxygen to the body tissues. Oxygen is essential for your tissues and muscles to function effectively, so having enough iron is essential. The resulting anemia can cause fatigue. You might also notice pale skin, cold hands and feet, dizziness, shortness of breath, brittle nails, headache, or a tingling/crawling feeling in the legs. There are plenty of foods that are rich in iron, including spinach, chicken, raisins and prunes, and asparagus and broccoli.
5. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 aids the production of DNA, makes red blood cells and helps make neurotransmitters in the brain. Symptoms of a B12 deficiency range from depression, low energy, poor memory and confusion to insomnia, headaches, and irritability. There are loads of animal sources jam packed with B12, like beef liver, sardines, tuna, lamb and beef. Salmon and eggs are also high in B12. For vegans, grains, cereals and non-dairy sources can provide the B12 you need.
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It’s a particularly important vitamin for women of childbearing age, to deter birth defects, which is why prenatal vitamins contain such hefty doses of folate. Symptoms of a folate deficiency include fatigue, gray hair, mouth ulcers, poor growth, and a swollen tongue.
As for getting the right amount of folate, women who could become pregnant can take a folic acid supplement daily. To get folate from food, go for fortified cereals, leafy greens, oranges, and lentils or other beans.
Magnesium helps support bone health and assists in energy production. Although deficiency is fairly uncommon in otherwise healthy people, it can affect those who are not getting enough from their food, or those who cannot assimilate it. Certain medications or too much alcohol consumption can also cause a deficiency.
Magnesium deficiency can cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle spasms, cramps and weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms intensify as the deficiency increases, to the point where, in more severe cases, it can lead to numbness, anxiety, abnormal heart rhythms, personality changes, or seizures.
To help your levels return to normal, eat more magnesium-rich foods, such fish, nuts and seeds, spinach and other leafy greens, black beans, leafy greens, avocado, bananas and dark chocolate.
If you suspect you are deficient in any of these, make an appointment with your chiropractor first to talk to him or her about it. There are some tests he or she can do, and a blood test may be recommended. Make sure you are eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and taking a multi-vitamin. It is normal for the body to change as we get older. Aches and pains are all too common, as we well know. But chronic lack of energy, fatigue and muscle aches, numbness or worse, though definitely not fun, could be a sign of something that can be corrected simply with a change in your diet.
We are happy to help. Give us a call, and please pass this information on to anyone else you feel could benefit. Here’s to your good health!
Dr. Dana Ballerini
1442 Irvine Blvd, Suite 101
Tustin, CA 92780