4 Nutrients You May be Missing

Nutrients are compounds found in foods that are essential to maintaining good health. They regulate chemical processes, provide energy, and enable the body to repair damaged cells. 

Nutritional deficiencies are common and can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms. Left untreated, deficiencies can evolve into life-threatening conditions. 

Nutrient-depleted soils, heavy use of antibiotics in animal feed, environmental pollutants, stress, poor diet, and certain medications all contribute to nutritional deficiencies. 

We asked our experts at Bethel Family Medicine all about nutrients. Read on to learn what roles nutrients play in the body and find out about some of the most common nutritional deficiencies. 

Macronutrients and micronutrients 101 

Macronutrients are the body’s sources of energy. Energy can be derived from carbohydrates, fats, and protein. 

Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, which are needed in lesser quantities when compared to macronutrients. 

There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. 

Water-soluble vitamins aren’t easily stored in the body. They’re excreted via urine when consumed in excess. 

Fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed when consumed with fat sources. These vitamins can be stored for longer in fat tissues and in your liver. 

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining strong bones and optimal immune system function. In the elderly, falls due to osteoporosis is the leading cause of death and disability. 

Vitamin D3, the animal form of vitamin D, is found in food sources such as fatty fish, dairy, and eggs. However, foods contain small quantities of vitamin D. The best source of vitamin D is sun exposure. 

A study conducted on 78,000 Austrian adults found that adults with low vitamin D levels had shorter lifespans.

2. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 enables your body to create red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout your body. Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to cognitive and memory issues. Chronic vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage.

The best sources of vitamin B12 are meat, dairy, and eggs.

3. Folate

Folate deficiency can occur for a number of reasons, including poor diet, celiac disease, certain medications, or chronic alcohol consumption. Some people are unable to convert folic acid to its active form due to genetic gene variations such as MTHFR. 

Good sources of folate include liver, eggs, and leafy green vegetables. 

4. Iodine

Low iodine levels can lead to weight gain, constipation, fatigue, and a number of symptoms associated with thyroid issues. You may be at risk of iodine deficiency if you’re pregnant or following a vegan diet. 

Good sources of iodine include seaweed, fish, eggs, dairy, and dried fruits. 

Who’s at the highest risk of developing deficiencies?

Studies suggest that nutritional deficiencies are still a problem, even in developed countries. Pregnant women, obese individuals, vegans, and alcoholics are at a higher risk of developing deficiencies.

If you’re worried about a possible nutritional deficiency, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our team can help you determine if you have any deficiencies and put together a customized treatment plan. 

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