Think your diet is well balanced? Think again.
Even when you are following a healthy diet, you may not be getting all of the essential nutrients that your body needs to function at its best.
Vegetarians and vegans tend to suffer from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, people who live in colder climates are lacking Vitamin D, and the majority of us fall painfully short of our daily recommended intake of magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Here are 7 of the most common nutrient deficiencies
Vitamin B6 (Recommended Daily Intake: 1.3 mg)
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is used throughout the body. It is necessary to create hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to body tissues. Vitamin B6 also helps the body fight off infection and maintain blood glucose levels, as well as regulate sleep, appetite, and mood.
How To Hit The Mark: Pile your plate with sweet potato, bananas, skinless grilled chicken breast, garlic, fish, chickpeas, and broccoli.
Vitamin B12 (Recommended Daily Intake: 2.4 mcg)
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system. It is vital for creating red blood cells & DNA. Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in fighting fatigue and improving alertness.
How To Hit The Mark: The richest sources include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and yogurt. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, this is going to be the biggest “nutrient-challenge” you are going to encounter. Fortified soy beverages, soy yogurts, miso and tofu provide vegans and vegetarians with the necessary quantity of vitamin B12 the body needs to maintain balance and health. Shiitake mushrooms, green and blue algae, and sea vegetables (such as spirulina and nori) are also good non-animal sources. Your best bet is going to be a quality supplement to make sure you are hitting the recommended daily intake.
Folate (Recommended Daily Intake: 400 mcg)
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin and helps the body form red blood cells and aids in the formation of genetic material within every body cell. Shortages of this essential B vitamin can cause anemia.
How To Hit The Mark: Incorporate asparagus, spinach, lentils, edamame, bean sprouts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds into your daily diet.
Magnesium plays a big part in the body’s processes, especially when it comes to biochemical reactions, such as producing energy. It helps with the functions of nerves and muscles and it is essential for cardiovascular health. Magnesium is also needed to balance the effect of calcium on the body. If there is a magnesium deficiency, calcium will build up and harden, which can lead to arthritis and hardened arteries.
How To Hit The Mark: You can find magnesium in Halibut, nuts, peanut butter, spinach, oatmeal, beans, and lentils.
Vitamin D (Recommended Daily Intake: 400-600 iu)
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, maintain bone density, and prevent osteoporosis. Recent findings suggest that vitamin D may also protect against some chronic diseases, including cancer, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases. Our bodies create Vitamin D with the help of the sun, but most of us neglect getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin” because we’re stuck indoors.
How To Hit The Mark: Soak up some of this “sunshine vitamin” by spending about 15 minutes per day outside in the sunshine. Incorporate D into your food by noshing on eggs, sardines, cod-liver (fish) oil, salmon, milk, and soy milk.
Calcium (Recommended Daily Intake: 1000 mg)
Calcium is necessary to build strong teeth and bones. If the body does not have the calcium it needs, bones cannot be formed correctly. Even after you are fully grown, the body uses calcium to keep bones strong. Weak bone structure leads to osteoporosis, which can cause bones to fracture more easily. There is no known cure for the disease, but it is preventable by consuming adequate amounts of calcium. Calcium is also necessary for cardiovascular health. It helps the heart muscle to contract correctly and it helps reduce bad cholesterol levels.
How To Hit The Mark: Drink at least 1 glass of milk, almond milk, or coconut milk per day and snack on almonds, tofu, yogurt and brazil nuts.
Iron (Recommended Daily Intake: Women – 18 mg, Men – 11 mg)
Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells and the growth of muscles and bones. It helps transport oxygen throughout the body and is used for metabolic reactions. An iron deficiency, or anemia, often begins with feeling tired and weak. It may also seem difficult to maintain your body temperature, and you may have an unusual number of headaches.
How To Hit The Mark: Red meat, dark leafy greens, eggs, beans, dark chocolate, soybeans, and tofu.
I have never been a big believer in excessive supplements and am a true advocate of getting every nutrient that you possibly can from your food. Unfortunately, the concentration of vitamins and minerals in the soil is not the same as it was in the days of our grandparents. Ultimately, we’re just not getting enough of the good stuff. Eating healthy should always come first, but getting an additional boost is never a bad idea if it’s in the right form.
The best way to go about this is to pack your plate with a variety of nutritious foods and boost with a high quality multi-vitamin once a day. Despite popular belief, all supplements are not created equal. Check the labels on your multi and make sure you are getting whole food complexes rather than synthetic nutrients. (Did you know that many synthetic B vitamins are made from coal tar? Gross!)
Look for a multi-vitamin that states organic whole food complexes, digestive enzymes, probiotics, Omega-3, and fermented soy. My recommended multi I have found is Every Woman’s One Daily by New Chapter (they also make Men’s multis.)
Live a Nourished Existence,