Even with access to an abundant food supply that has all the nutrients our bodies need, studies show that a lot of Canadians are not getting enough nutrients to ensure optimal health, particularly when it comes to Vitamin D. But aside from Vitamin D deficiency, there are other nutritional deficiencies that we need to be wary of and address, as they can lead to a variety of health problems, such as anemia and osteoporosis.
The good news is, Health Canada shares how a healthy and balanced diet can provide most people with the nutrients essential for good health, showing how eating the right combination of foods can aid in addressing those nutritional deficiencies. And to help you out, we’ve listed the most common nutritional deficiencies, and what to incorporate into your diet to help overcome them.
5 MOST COMMON NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES
Iron is an essential mineral that has multiple uses in our bodies. It’s needed to produce hemoglobin, the protein inside red blood cells that transfer oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. Iron deficiency affects a large population, with the World Health Organization classifying it as the most common nutritional disorder in the world. It is more common in women, infants, children, vegetarians, and frequent blood donors. Its symptoms include extreme fatigue, susceptibility to infection, pale skin, brittle nails, insomnia, and hair loss.
What to eat: red meat, eggs, fish and seafood, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, dried fruits, and iron-fortified cereals, breads, and pastas.
Calcium is an essential mineral for your body, needed for the development of strong bones. Parsley Health shares how your body reacts when it doesn’t get enough calcium — it will start to steal calcium from your bones, increasing your risk of developing osteoporosis. But aside from helping to develop and maintain strong bones, calcium is also important in ensuring proper muscle function, hormone secretion, and nerve transmission. Symptoms of calcium deficiency include muscle spasms, confusion or memory loss, hallucinations, brittle nails, and easily fractured bones.
What to eat: dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, legumes, dried fruit, and tofu.
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Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s important for maintaining normal vision and keeping your immune system, skin, and eyes functioning at their very best. This vitamin also helps other organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys keep working properly. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children have the highest risk of having Vitamin A deficiency. Symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency include dry skin, dry eyes, night blindness, throat and chest infections, poor wound healing, and acne.
What to eat: dark green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, butter, liver, fatty fish, and Vitamin A–fortified dairy products.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that keeps bones strong. It helps the body absorb calcium and is vital for blood clotting and maintaining a healthy immune system. And as we shared in ‘The Magic of Vitamin D & Are You Getting Enough?’ it even helps control appetite and improves the chances of weight loss. The symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include tiredness or fatigue, bone and muscle pain, weakness, and depression.
What to eat: fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, cheese, orange juice, soy milk, and Vitamin D-fortified cereals.
***IMPORTANT***: It’s important to note that you shouldn’t supplement with Vitamins A or D without speaking to a healthcare practitioner first as these as fat soluble vitamins and can build up in the body.
Magnesium is an important mineral that our body needs for normal nerve and muscle function, the release of energy from food, and healthy bones. Sadly, the vast majority of the population don’t consume enough magnesium in their diets, with Global News reports that over a third of adult Canadians aren’t getting enough magnesium. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, muscle weakness and spasms, anxiety, irritability, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and sleep problems.
What to eat: whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, tofu, edamame, and dark chocolate.
A well-balanced diet is the key to getting all the necessary ingredients that we need, but if you’re experiencing prolonged periods of any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s best for you to schedule a check-up with your doctor. It’s important to remember that other factors, such as various medications and certain diseases, can also lead to nutritional deficiencies.