To function optimally, your body needs a variety of nutrients. While a balanced diet should provide all the nutrients you need, sometimes people do become deficient in certain nutrients. Knowing the signs of nutrient deficiency can help you identify if you are missing one or more important nutrients. If you are, then you can take steps to correct the deficiency. You may want to consult a doctor for testing and supplementation recommendations and/or adjust your diet accordingly. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common nutrient deficiencies and their warning signs.
Iron is an essential mineral. It performs important functions in the body including forming red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout the body. A lack of iron can lead to anemia, a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen.
Signs of iron deficiency include (7):
Certain people are more at risk of iron deficiency than others.
They include (7):
There are two types of dietary iron:
So, if you’re iron deficient, or at risk of it, including the following foods in your diet may help:
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron (6). So, eating vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers, along with iron-rich foods, can help increase your body’s absorption of the mineral.
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Calcium is an important mineral that is needed by the body for many reasons. One of the most well-known roles of calcium is its importance in bone health (2). A calcium deficiency can lead to health problems such as osteoporosis and bone fractures (1).
There are a few signs that you may be deficient in calcium, such as (1):
Some people are at a higher risk of developing a calcium deficiency include (1):
There are many dietary sources of calcium, and some good sources include:
If you think you may be deficient in calcium, be sure to talk to your doctor. They may recommend taking a calcium supplement or increasing your intake of calcium-rich foods.
Vitamin D is essential for human health and is mainly obtained from exposure to the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is a condition in which not enough vitamin D is present in the body. It can lead to health problems such as Rickets, osteoporosis, and other problems (10).
There are several signs that you may be deficient in vitamin D, including (10):
People who are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency include those who (10):
There are several dietary sources of vitamin D, such as:
If you are concerned that you may be deficient in vitamin D, talk to your healthcare provider. They may recommend that you take a vitamin D supplement or increase your sun exposure and intake of vitamin D rich foods.
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Iodine is essential for the body to make thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism. Iodine deficiency can cause problems such as goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland), and severe fetal abnormalities if the deficiency occurs in a pregnant woman (5).
Signs of iodine deficiency include (5):
Some people are more at risk for iodine deficiency than others; these people include those who (5):
Good dietary sources of iodine include:
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an important water-soluble vitamin that is mainly found in animal products.
It is responsible for numerous functions in the body, including the formation of red blood cells, the maintenance of nerve cells, and the metabolism of fats and proteins (9).
A vitamin B12 deficiency is possible because our bodies cannot produce this nutrient, and it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
People who are at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency include those (9):
Fortunately, a vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with supplementation or by increasing dietary intake of foods that are high in nutrients.
There are several dietary sources of vitamin B12, including:
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may need to supplement your diet with a vitamin B12 supplement. If your deficiency is due to a problem with absorption, you may require vitamin B12 injections. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about the best way to ensure you are getting an adequate amount of this important nutrient.
Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. This means that, unlike water-soluble vitamins, it is stored in the body’s fatty tissues and liver. Because of this, a vitamin A deficiency can develop over time if you don’t get enough in your diet.
This nutrient is essential for a variety of bodily functions including vision, reproduction, immune system function, cell growth (8).
A lack of vitamin A can cause various health problems, including night blindness and low immunity (8).
Some signs of vitamin A deficiency are (8):
People who are more at risk of vitamin A deficiency include (8):
The best way to prevent a vitamin A deficiency is to eat foods that are rich in this nutrient.
There are two types of dietary vitamin A:
Some excellent dietary sources of vitamin A include:
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Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and heart function. It also helps muscles and nerves work properly. It’s a useful nutrient that can help balance other electrolytes like sodium (4).
A potassium deficiency can lead to several health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke (4).
Signs that you may be deficient in potassium include (4):
Short-term potassium loss can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, or excessive sweating. If you don’t get enough potassium from the foods you eat, your body may pull it from your bones, leading to weak bones (4).
People who are at high risk for potassium deficiency include those who (4):
Some good dietary sources of potassium include:
If you think you may be deficient in potassium, talk to your health care provider. They may recommend a potassium supplement or changes to your diet.
Your body needs magnesium for more than 300 biochemical processes, including nerve function, muscle contraction, and energy production. Magnesium also supports healthy bones and teeth (3).
If you don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, you may develop a magnesium deficiency.
The signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency can vary from person to person. Some people with a magnesium deficiency may not experience any symptoms.
However, the most common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency include (3):
People at a high risk of magnesium deficiency include those who (3):
If you think you may have a magnesium deficiency, talk to your doctor. They can do a blood test to determine if you have a magnesium deficiency and recommend a course of treatment.
In addition to getting magnesium from your diet, you can also take supplements to ensure you’re getting enough.
Some good dietary sources of magnesium include:
Nutrient deficiency can be a serious issue, leading to a variety of health problems. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and know how to get the nutrients your body needs.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may be deficient in a particular nutrient. They can do a blood test to determine if you have a deficiency and recommend a course of treatment.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!