Common Nutrient Deficiencies

shutterstock_387089710Feeling fatigued constantly? Muscle aches getting you down? You may be suffering from a nutrient deficiency.

With our fast-paced lives, it is easy to overlook simple things such as eating right and getting essential nutrients into your body so that it can function, grow and develop optimally.

Nutrition deficiencies alter the functional equilibrium of our bodies and disrupt the optimal flow of processes such as water balance, enzyme function, nerve signaling, digestion and metabolism. Nutrient deficiencies may also lead to diseases. For example, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies can cause osteopenia or osteoporosis, or inadequate iron may cause anemia, which zaps energy.

Here’s how to recognize seven common nutrient deficiencies:

1. Calcium

Calcium is important for maintaining strong bones and controlling muscle and nerve function. Signs of severely low calcium include fatigue, muscle cramps, abnormal heart rhythms and a poor appetite.

2. Vitamin D

This vitamin is also critical for bone health. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be vague — fatigue and muscle aches or weakness. Inadequacy that goes on for too long may lead to softening of the bones.

3. Potassium

Potassium helps the kidneys, heart, and other organs work properly. Symptoms of a deficiency include weight loss, muscle weakness, constipation, and in severe cases, an abnormal heart rhythm.

4. Iron

Iron helps your body make red blood cells. When iron levels get too low, your body can’t effectively carry oxygen. The resulting anemia can cause fatigue. You might also notice pale skin and dull, thin, sparse hair.

5. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 aids the production of DNA and helps make neurotransmitters in the brain. Symptoms of severe B12 deficiency include numbness in the legs, hands, or feet; problems with walking and balance; anemia; fatigue; weakness; a swollen, inflamed tongue; memory loss; paranoia; and hallucinations.

6. Folate

Folate, or folic acid, is a particularly important vitamin for women of childbearing age, which is why prenatal vitamins contain such a hefty dose. A folate deficiency can cause a decrease in the total number of cells and large red blood cells as well as neural tube defects in an unborn child. Symptoms of a folate deficiency include fatigue, gray hair, mouth ulcers, poor growth, and a swollen tongue.

7. Magnesium

Magnesium helps support bone health and assists in energy production. Magnesium deficiency can cause loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. In more severe cases, it can lead to numbness, muscle cramps, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, personality changes, or low potassium or calcium levels.

From Nutrient Deficiency to Healthy Eating

Blood tests can help determine if you are deficient nutritionally and a consultation with a nutritionist or recommend supplements will help you along your way again.