Nutritional Deficiencies: Common Signs and Solutions
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
- When it comes to your diet, you can develop deficiencies if you aren’t getting enough of the nutrients you need, like iron, vitamin D, calcium, and more.
- A frequently overlooked deficiency is in C15:0, a fatty acid that is present in whole milk and other full fat dairy products which protects your cells.
- If you aren’t getting enough C15:0 (and many of us aren’t), a supplement like fatty15 can bring your levels back up and help protect you from age-related problems.
Proper nutrition is at the foundation of our overall health and wellness. What we eat matters, and it has a lasting effect on not just how we feel, but how our body operates, avoids illness, and maintains proper function.
Every system in our body depends on certain vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to function properly and effectively, which makes getting proper nutrition a crucial element of your overall health care approach. Since nutrition is so important, it stands to reason that when our nutrition is imbalanced, improper, or inadequate, there are health repercussions. Additionally, there may be underlying health issues or conditions that prevent our bodies from properly absorbing the nutrients and vitamins we need from our food.
What happens to our bodies when we aren’t getting the things we need from our diet? When we aren’t getting the things we need, we can experience the negative effects of a nutritional deficiency. Nutritional deficiencies can range from mild to severe. For instance, at the onset of a nutritional deficiency, a person may experience mild side effects like fatigue, certain skin conditions, and changes in weight. As a nutritional deficiency progresses, the person may be faced with serious illness.
As such, it’s imperative to address nutritional deficiency issues as they arise so that they can be corrected and supplemented with either different dietary strategies or supplements. If you think you could be suffering from a nutritional deficiency, we have a quick-check guide to help you determine what you might be lacking and what you can do.
As always, it’s important to speak to your healthcare professional to ensure that your course of action is suitable for you and your specific health needs.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies and Their Symptoms
While it’s possible to be deficient in any essential vitamin, mineral, or macronutrient, the following seven nutritional deficiencies are more common.
- Iron deficiency. Iron deficiency is one of the most common forms of a nutrient deficiency. More than 25% of the population suffers from iron deficiency. There are two types of iron that the body needs. These are heme iron and non-heme iron. Because heme iron is only found in animal products, vegetarians and vegans may find they are more susceptible to a deficiency in this type of iron. Common side effects of iron deficiency are fatigue, muscle weakness, feeling foggy headed, and being frequently sick. Increasing your iron can be as easy as adding green vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach to your diet, and for non-vegans, adding organ meats and shellfish.
- Iodine deficiency. Your body needs iodine for proper thyroid function. A person who is not able to properly absorb iodine or does not get enough iodine in their diet can become iodine deficient. Symptoms of iodine deficiency can be mild to severe and include issues with thyroid health. A person with iodine deficiency may experience heart palpitations, weight gain, goiter and loss of breath. An increased amount of kep, fish, dairy products, and eggs can help you meet your iodine needs.
- Vitamin D deficiency. When dietary guidelines changed in 1977, whole vitamin D milk became somewhat taboo. As such, many children grew up with vitamin D deficiencies, which are still common today. In fact, if you have had a baby in the past ten years, it is likely your pediatrician gave you a vitamin D supplement to give to your child. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include muscle and bone weakness and fragility. It should be noted however, that a vitamin D deficiency may be impossible to diagnose without a blood test. Symptoms may be very mild or may not show up for years. You can increase your vitamin D intake by eating more fatty fish like salmon and trout, as well as eggs.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 is a common vitamin deficiency experienced by adults. B12 is only found in large quantities in animals and their byproducts, which places vegetarians and vegans at a higher risk for deficiency than others. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can be weakness, tiredness, mouth issues like sores on the gums or a smooth tongue, changes in vision and heart palpitations. You can increase your B12 intake by upping your doses of beef, organ meats, eggs, and milk products.
- Calcium deficiency. Every cell in your body needs calcium to function. It’s essential for proper bone and teeth development and essential in helping your heart, muscles, and nerves function properly. It is estimated that many teenagers as well as adults over fifty are seriously lacking in calcium. Especially important as we age, calcium can help keep your bones from becoming weakened by osteoporosis. Symptoms of a severe calcium deficiency are the onset of softened bone related illnesses such as rickets and osteoporosis. While many people opt to take a calcium supplement, you can attempt to increase your calcium intake by adding dark green vegetables, bony fish, and dairy products.
- Vitamin A deficiency. Essential in keeping skin, teeth and bones healthy, vitamin A also helps fortify cell membranes. Vitamin A is also essential in eye health. Vitamin A deficiency is most common in non-western, underdeveloped countries, and is also the leading cause of blindness. Symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency can be dry skin and eyes, vision changes, continuous infections and difficulty healing wounds, and in women, difficulty conceiving. You can increase intake of vitamin A by eating dark, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
- Magnesium deficiency. This mineral helps keep bones and teeth strong and is responsible for numerous enzyme reactions that help your body function properly. Magnesium plays an important role in our overall health and wellness. Lack of magnesium has been linked to numerous health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irregular heart rhythm, muscle cramping, restless legs, fatigue, and headaches. You can increase magnesium intake by eating more whole grains, dark chocolate, and dark leafy green vegetables.
Many of these essential vitamins and minerals support every cell in our body (like B12 and calcium, for instance). This means every cell in our body must have these vitamins in order to properly function.
As it turns out, science has revealed another potentially essential micronutrient needed by our cells: C15:0.†
What is C15:0 and Could I Be Deficient?
C15:0 is an odd-chain saturated fatty acid found in whole milk and whole fat milk products like cheese and butter, as well as some fish and plants. Because we’re a society that generally avoids whole dairy fat, you likely aren’t getting enough C15:0 in your diet. Science supports that C15:0 is effective in supporting your cells -- especially as you age -- by protecting them from becoming fragile and losing function. Fragile cells and decreasing cellular function are both key hallmarks of aging.*†
While a lack of C15:0 in your diet may cause you to be more susceptible to aging-associated breakdown and associated conditions, an increase of C15:0 in a healthy diet has been linked to:*†
- Healthy heart function
- Liver health
- Healthy metabolism
- Red blood cell health
- Balanced immunity
You can get the C15:0 you need in your diet by taking a once a day supplement that contains FA15™, a pure powder and vegan-friendly form of C15:0. Fatty15 is the first and only supplement that allows you to replenish your C15:0 levels to help prevent age-related breakdown, and age on your own terms.*† Fatty15 supports your overall health and wellness on a cellular level, giving your cells a fighting chance to remain healthier longer.
Using fatty15 along with a healthy diet full of the other key nutrients you need can be a simple yet effective solution to protect your overall health in the long-run, so balance out those whole foods, and consider adding this once daily powerhouse to your health stack for results your cells will thank you for.*†
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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