Telltale symptoms are usually the first clue that you might be low in one or more important vitamins or minerals. Nutrient deficiencies alter bodily functions and processes at the most basic cellular level. These processes include water balance, enzyme function, nerve signaling, digestion, and metabolism. Resolving these deficiencies is important for optimal growth, development, and function. Here’s how to recognise six common nutrient deficiencies:
Calcium: Calcium is important for maintaining strong bones and controlling muscle and nerve function. Signs of severely low calcium include fatigue, muscle cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, and a poor appetite. Make sure you’re getting enough with at least three servings of milk or yogurt a day. Other good sources of calcium are cheese, calcium-fortified orange juice, and dark, leafy greens.
Vitamin D: This vitamin is also critical for bone health. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be vague — fatigue and muscle aches or weakness.If it goes on long term, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to softening of the bones.To get enough vitamin D, have three servings of fortified milk or yogurt daily eating fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna, twice a week; and spending some time outside in the sunshine every day.
Potassium: Potassium helps the kidneys, heart, and other organs work properly. You could become low in potassium in the short term because of diarrhea or vomiting, excessive sweating, or antibiotics, or because of chronic conditions such as eating disorders and kidney disease, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Symptoms of a deficiency include weight loss, muscle weakness, and in severe cases, an abnormal heart rhythm. For natural potassium sources eat bananas, whole grains, milk, vegetables, beans, and peas.
Iron: Iron helps your body make red blood cells. When iron levels get too low, your body can’t effectively carry oxygen. The resulting anemia can cause fatigue. You might also notice pale skin and dull, thin, sparse hair. To boost iron levels, eat iron-fortified cereal, beef, oysters, beans (especially white beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans), lentils, and spinach.
Vtamin B12: Vitamin B12 aids the production of DNA and helps make neurotransmitters in the brain. Symptoms of severe B12 deficiency include numbness in the legs, hands, or feet; problems with walking and balance; anemia; fatigue; weakness; a swollen, inflamed tongue; memory loss; paranoia; and hallucinations. You can get vitamin B12 from animal sources. Boost your levels of B12 by eating more fish, chicken, milk, and yogurt. If you’re vegan, opt for vegan foods fortified with B12, such as non-dairy milk, meat substitutes, and breakfast cereals.
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