With a well-balanced diet, it is possible for a healthy person to obtain all of the vitamins and minerals they need from food alone.
While dietary supplements are not a replacement for eating healthy food; rather, they intend to do just what their name implies—to supplement a diet. However, there are circumstances in which the food we eat may not provide our body with all of the important nutrients, resulting in a nutrient deficiency.
Here’s a quick rundown of five nutrient deficiencies that are more common than you think.
When it comes to nutrient deficiencies, vitamin D is arguably the most common.
A large number of people do not meet recommended vitamin D intake levels. This might be because there aren’t a lot of naturally occurring food sources with vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in helping bones absorb calcium. It is found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as certain types of mushrooms.
Your body forms vitamin D naturally when skin is exposed to sunlight, but most of us don’t spend much time outside, so fortified dairy products such as milk and yogurt are the best food sources of vitamin D.
Adults aged 19-70 should aim to get 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day.
Next on the list of nutrients you may not be eating enough of is vitamin E. Like vitamin D, vitamin E is also a fat-soluble vitamin, but it is found in fatty foods such nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
About 94% of adults aged 19 and above eat less than the estimated average requirement for vitamin E. Due to the potential health risks associated with large doses of vitamin E pills, widespread supplementation is not routinely recommended.
Instead, shift your food intake to make sure you are eating a variety of healthy fats that will help bump up your vitamin E levels from food-based sources to meet your needs.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic pathways in your body. It helps make proteins, controls blood sugar and blood pressure and bone health. Magnesium helps produce DNA, RNA and the antioxidant glutathione.
Despite this, more than 60% of adult aged 19 and above have low magnesium levels and struggle to improve their everyday intake of the nutrient.
One way to increase magnesium levels in your body is to up your intake of dark green leafy vegetables and whole grains. Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals are also a good source of this important mineral.
Women tend to be at a higher risk for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia, due to biological factors such as menstruation and lower intakes of high heme iron foods, such as meat, fish and poultry.
Animal foods such as meat, fish and poultry are good sources of this easily absorbed form of iron called heme iron.
Although plant foods contain iron, it is among the less readily absorbed non-heme iron forms. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat.
Vitamin A is well known for the role it plays in vision, but it also impacts immune function, reproduction and your body’s cellular communication.
Make sure you’re getting enough by consuming both preformed vitamin A (from animal foods, such as milk and eggs) and provitamin A, found in leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes and fruits.
Increasing the variety of both plant and animal foods ensures you get adequate amounts of the all-important vitamin A.
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