Nearly one in ten Americans suffer from nutrient deficiency. This seems impossible in a highly developed country with relative wealth and an abundance of social safety net programs. But more than 30 million Americans don’t get enough of the nutrients needed for optimal health.
Why? The answer is often simply unawareness.
In the fast-paced lifestyle, most pursue today, the symptoms of nutrient deficiency have been ignored as inevitable realities of living. Fatigue, allergies, petty illnesses, caffeine dependency – all these symptoms of a rise-and-grind lifestyle may also be the tell-tale signs of nutrient deficiency.
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What Is Nutrient Deficiency?
A nutrient is a substance needed for the growth or maintenance of health like vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. When the body does not receive the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy balance, that is a nutrient deficiency – a shortage of the key nutrients you need to be healthy. A vitamin deficiency or a minerals deficiency are both examples of nutrient deficiency.
It is possible for an otherwise healthy person to maintain a nutrient deficiency for years without knowing it. This is because our bodies are resourceful and resilient, but it does not mean that harm is not taking place. So recognize the signs and speak with a doctor if you have questions.
The Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies
The most common nutrient deficiency in the US is probably calcium. It often tops the list of preventable nutrient deficiencies diagnosed and treated today.
In addition, Vitamin B12 deficiency is often observed especially in older Americans. This deficiency causes anemia which robs cells of oxygen leading to a plethora of additional conditions and symptoms.
Vitamin D – responsible for immunity, healthy muscle and nerve action, and strong bones – is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. Older people who spend less time in the sunlight should boost their Vitamin D intake through fatty fish, liver, egg yolks, and red meat.
Most Americans don’t get enough magnesium from their diet (and men over 70 are particularly likely to suffer magnesium deficiency). Magnesium can be found in leafy greens, whole grains, and yogurt. However, supplementation may be required since our bodies become less efficient at absorbing magnesium as we age.
Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency
Most of the symptoms of nutrient deficiency may have multiple causes so it is important to speak with a nutritionist or doctor about your symptoms. Those symptoms may include …
Low iron levels cause anemia – low levels of red blood cells – which causes chronic fatigue. Fatigue can be caused by many factors so discuss your condition with a doctor. But if your fatigue is accompanied by paleness in your face, iron deficiency may be at play.
2. Slow Healing Wounds
If you bruise easily or your gums bleed when you brush or floss, you may be experiencing a deficiency of Vitamin C, necessary for cell repair and healing.
3. Loss of Appetite, Nausea, Vomiting
Those suffering from a magnesium deficiency may experience multiple gastrointestinal symptoms including loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. In addition to building strong bones, magnesium also helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, affecting multiple facets of metabolism and overall health.
4. Severe Hair Loss
Some hair loss is normal – in fact, our scalp routinely replaces hairs periodically. However, if you notice clumps of hair, growing bald spots, or sudden losses of large amounts of hair, it could be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Iron deficiency is often a factor in severe hair loss and your doctor may order a blood test to diagnose the cause.
5. Burning Sensation in Feet or Tongue
These symptoms can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency and should be taken seriously. Without sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, your body cannot produce hemoglobin, the element in red blood cells that enables all your cells to receive life-sustaining oxygen. Vegans are particularly subject to this deficiency because most natural vitamin B12 comes from meat and dairy, both of which are absent the vegan dietary regimen.
6. Pain in the Bones
Prolonged shortages of Vitamin D can cause bone pain. Vitamin D deficiency can be treated simply by going into the sun for ten minutes without sunscreen. (Always use sunscreen when going into direct sunlight for more than ten minutes.)
7. Irregular Heartbeat
Calcium helps to regulate your heartbeat and an irregular heartbeat may signal a deficiency in your calcium levels. Since calcium is also required for muscles to fully relax, low calcium may also cause muscle spasms or cramps.
8. Night Blindness
Sufficient Vitamin A is needed to maintain a healthy level of moisture in the eye so a deficiency will deteriorate your vision – especially night time vision – over time. Patients with escalating night blindness should see an ophthalmologist who will examine the back of the eye for this condition.
9. Arched, Convex Nail Beds
If your fingernail beds are convex and spoon-shaped, this may be a symptom of iron-deficient anemia. This condition may also be harmless, but your doctor can check you for iron deficiency which brings many harmful symptoms.
There is a lot to think about – we understand. If you have questions about nutrient deficiency or supplementation or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
Opt Health is a telehealth platform that reconnects men with wellness, fitness, strength, and sexual vitality through scientific preventive medicine. From your own home, you can schedule with a physician, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medications delivered to your door.
For questions, inquiries, or appointments, don’t hesitate to contact us. Get personalized support and insight from top-tier physicians available 24/7.