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7 of the Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies and What Can be Done About Them

Many individuals are not getting enough important nutrients from their diet. For many, it is simply due to the fact their diet does not provide adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Even if you try to eat a whole, living foods diet, many foods these days provide fewer nutrients than one might think due to where the food is grown, the quality of the soil, how it is stored and for how long, and how it is processed. Now, consider that many people are dealing with digestive issues and other health conditions that influence their body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, and you have a recipe for a very unhealthy population.

Because of these factors, there are many common nutrient deficiencies. Supplementation is often necessary, especially if you develop symptoms showing signs of such deficiency. Below is a list of seven of Dr. Mercola’s most popular nutrient deficiencies, and how to address them.

1. Vitamin D

Sensible sun exposure may be one of the best ways to optimize vitamin D levels, yet with the use of sun block and seasonal weather limit people’s exposure. Our decisions to stay indoors and even eating habits affect our vitamin D levels, as well. For example, a diet with foods that tend to be loaded with the herbicide glyphosate (such as conventional foods with genetically modified corn or soy), can interfere with enzymes responsible for activating vitamin D in your liver and kidneys.

“Researchers estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency.” [1]

Signs of deficiency: obesity, achy bones, feeling blue, head sweating, and poor immune function. You can purchase a vitamin D at home test to assess your vitamin D levels.

Who’s at an increased risk: individuals with very little sun exposure, people over the age of 50, and ones with darker skin.

How to supplement (especially when the weather won’t permit sun exposure year-round):

  • Eat Vitamin D-rich foods such as sardines, trout, caviar, portabello mushrooms, and maitake mushrooms.
  • Find good supplements such as cod liver oilvitamin D3 or maitake mushroom extract.
  • When possible, expose large areas of the body, such as back, chest, upper legs and arms, to the sun for short periods of time around noon when the UVB rays are most intense.

2. Omega-3 Fats

Some of the nutrients most essential to life longevity are omega-3 fats due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation in the body has been linked to numerous health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression and diabetes. Omega-3 fats offset inflammatory omega-6 fats that are present in processed vegetable oil, often used in many packaged foods and in most restaurants especially to prepare fried foods.

Signs of deficiency: dry and/or flaky skin, “chicken skin” on backs of arms or elbows, dandruff, soft brittle nails, and fatigue.

Who’s at an increased risk: people with a diet high in processed foods and/or fried foods.

How to supplement:

  • Consume omega-3 rich foods such as sardines, wild Alaskan salmon, hemp seeds and chia seeds
  • Try supplements such as krill oil or other fish oils.

3. Vitamin K2

Essential to structural health and an important adjunct to vitamin D, vitamin K2 is also essential for optimal health. Without K2, vitamin D cannot work properly and vice versa. Vitamin K2 aids in bone strength, healthy tissue renewal, and health of arteries and blood vessels.

How to supplement:

  • Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut and Kimchi, made at home or bought at your local farmers market.
  • The primary vitamin K2 supplement contains menaquinone-7 extracted from food.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, yet an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in it.” [1]

This important mineral plays a role in the body maintaining proper metabolic function and healthy cardiovascular system. It assists in the body’s cleansing process and elimination of environmental toxins and heavy metals. Various nutrients such as antioxidant glutathione rely on magnesium.

Who’s at risk: It is recommended that you look to an expert or a reference such as The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean to assess if you are magnesium deficient.

How to supplement:

  • Eat a varied diet of magnesium rich foods such as dark leafy greens, seaweed, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  • Start juicing your vegetables.
  • Take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths.
  • There are two types of magnesium supplements: magnesium glycinate and magnesium threonate.

5. Vitamin E

Research on Alzheimer’s disease by Maret Traber of Oregon State University showed that vitamin E is needed to prevent a dramatic loss of a critically important molecule in the brain and helps explain why vitamin E is needed for brain health. There’s increasingly clear evidence that vitamin E is associated with brain protection.[2]

How to supplement:

  • Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans; seeds such as sunflower seeds; olive oil; legumes; and green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.
  • Natural supplements should be mixed with tocopherols and tocotrienols. Natural products are listed as “d-“ formulations, such as d-alpha-tocopherol, versus the “dl-“ form used for synthetic vitamin E.

6. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is essential to vital functions such as energy production, blood formation and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 deficiency usual results from an inability to absorb it from food.

Signs of deficiency: mood swings, mental fog, memory problems, fatigue, and muscle weakness.

How to supplement:

  • Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods such as grass-fed beef, snapper, salmon, shrimp, organic poultry and eggs.
  • Oral supplements include sprays and sublingual drops.
  • Ask your health provider about a B12 test and injectable B12, especially if you follow a no-animal-food vegan diet.

7. Choline

“An estimated 90 percent of the US population may be deficient in choline.” [3]

Choline is vital to brain development and the health of your cell membranes. Its anti-inflammatory properties affect both muscle control and memory.

Signs of deficiency: memory problems and brain fog.

How to supplement:

  • Good dietary sources include brussel sprouts, broccoli, raw milk, beef liver and wheat germ. Animal foods such as organic eggs and grass-fed meat offer the best source of choline.

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