Even in Western countries where food is relatively plentiful, there are still millions of people who suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Often, these deficiencies express themselves in minor ailments that many people ignore, because people assume that if they’re eating enough they’re also getting enough nutrients. However, because of the nature of highly processed foods and other problems with manufactured food, many people are not getting the proper nutrients they need. Here are a few of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the United States:
Vitamin D is important for bone health, as it is involved in helping bones absorb calcium. Vitamin D deficiencies are fairly widespread in the United States, and this can lead to a decrease in bone health, especially among the elderly. Some foods like milk and bread have vitamin D added, but eggs and fish are also a great natural source. The easiest way to get vitamin D is to spend a little bit of time in the sun every day, as the body naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
Calcium is also important for bone health, and as mentioned above works with Vitamin D to replenish the bones. Calcium helps people recover from activity and exercise, especially endurance and high-intensity exercise. Calcium is most commonly found in dairy products, but other healthy sources include almonds and salmon. Be sure to increase your vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium.
Potassium helps with muscle functioning, including the heart, and with healthy nerve tissue. Sometimes healthy levels of potassium can help lower blood pressure. Fluid loss through excessive sweating, or from vomiting or diarrhea can flush potassium out of the body, causing a deficiency. Bananas are the most well-known source of potassium, but many other foods are also a good source, including mushrooms, potatoes, and leafy, green vegetables.
Iron is important for healthy red blood cells and the immune system, as well as the general growth and functioning of our bodies. People with iron deficiencies may feel fatigued or be more susceptible to illness. Iron can be gained from many meats, with organ meats being the richest source. Oysters, clams, chicken, turkey, and red meat are great sources of iron. Iron deficiency is most common among women, but anyone with poor eating habits can also be at risk.
Vitamin B12 helps the body produce energy by assisting in enzymatic reactions. In addition, B12 helps make neurotransmitters in the brain as well as in the production of DNA. The source of vitamin B12 is primarily from animals, through meats like chicken and fish, as well as animal products like milk and yogurt. The increase in recent years of the Vegan lifestyle has increased the incidence of Vitamin B12 deficiency, but even Vegans have options of B12-fortified foods. Most healthy adults can usually get enough B12 through diet alone.
Nutritional deficiencies aren’t immediately life-threatening, but over time the negative effects can build up and adversely affect your health. Even a general feeling of weariness and lack of motivation might be a sign of some deficiency. Be sure to critically examine your diet to see what you might be missing out on, and definitely consult a doctor for advice in getting the nutrients your body needs. Contact Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipids, and Wellness in Fort Myers for a nutritional consultation. A certified dietician is available at the office. Call him today at 239-362-3005, ext. 200 or click here. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness is a concierge, patient membership physician in Fort Myers, and provides direct primary care services.