3 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies You Should Know



30 January 2023 11:34 WIB

TEMPO.CO, JakartaEven if following a balanced diet, minimising stress and prioritising every movement, certain things may be out of control. For example, you may still lack certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed to optimally support the mind and body due to genetics, pre-existing conditions, lifestyle, and so on.

Will Cole, a leading functional-medicine expert, stated that some common nutritional deficiencies need attention. One of which is Magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K are seen often in his practices. “With the development of agriculture and modern farming practices, the nutrient of our soil has dropped drastically," he says. “This directly impacts the nutrient levels in our foods, particularly with magnesium-rich crops like kale.”

Neuroscience discovered that the western diet high in saturated fat and added sugar is linked to gut problems such as permeability, neuroinflammation, and cognitive dysfunction. In short, while the choices of food determine how healthy the diet is, a person still needs to be more diligent about other nutrients that are out of their control. In the following, Cole outlines the ins and outs of the nutrient deficiencies he sees most often, why each nutrient is so important, and how much you should aim to receive daily.

1. Magnesium

"Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body and is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions," says Cole. "It plays a role in your sleep, cognitive function, and more." Other benefits of magnesium include its potential to help with anxiety, convert food into energy, and boost the healthy levels of estrogen.

Cole stated that the daily needs can vary from one person to the other regarding nutritional deficiencies. However, the sufficient amount is at least 350 milligrams of magnesium per day. The recommended amount can also be varied based on gender and age, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women. To increase the intake of whole foods, prioritize the likes of nuts and seeds like (pumpkin, chia, cashews), almonds, spinach, and black beans.

2. Vitamin D

“Vitamin D is very important to pay attention to, as it’s the one nutrient required by every single cell of your body. But it's also one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in our society,” according to Cole. Studies have estimated that about one billion people worldwide have insufficient levels of vitamin D, which can lead to problems including weakened bones, compromised immunity, and depression.

Cole suggested that a person should receive at least between 2,000 and 6,000 IU of vitamin D per day, however, receiving that level of UI can be a bit difficult. Exposures of the sun may improve the vitamin D status, however, extenuating factors such as how close you are to the equator and what the current season is could affect the amount that could be received from the sun.

Furthermore, vitamin D doesn't naturally consist in most foods, which also poses a challenge of receiving enough of it through diet alone. With that in mind, the best food sources of vitamin D can include eggs (especially egg yolks), salmon, tuna, mushrooms, milk, and fortified cereals. Those can be consumed as long as it fits into your diet plan.

3. Vitamin K

Last on the functional medicine expert’s list of common nutrient deficiencies is vitamin K. While it is essential to support proper blood clotting, vitamin K also offers benefits for the bones, heart, and brain.

According to Cole, a sufficient amount should be about 100 to 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 per day. Food that has a source rich in K2 includes natto, as well as eggs, milk, and grass-fed meat. In addition, consuming more food that contains K1 such as broccoli, spinach, and cabbage, won’t hurt either. Cole adds that if a person is open to taking supplements (and receiving doctors' approval), supplements that contain both K2 and D3 are a great option because they're considered fat-soluble and can help increase each other's bioavailability.

Of course, a food-first approach remains the gold standard to increase the intake of multiple nutrients, yet, there are exceptions. “While I believe food is foundational, sometimes you do need a little extra support when it comes to overcoming nutrient deficiencies,” says Cole.

If you are not feeling well and suspect the nutritional status isn't where it should be, Cole suggests conducting a laboratory test with a trusted health professional. This would be able to determine if dietary modifications and supplementation—including the exact dosage that’s best for you—are required. “I always recommend a whole-foods-based diet in conjunction with supplements,” Cole concludes with one final reminder. “[But] no matter how many supplements you take, you can't supplement your way out of a poor diet.”


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