How To Prevent 8 Common Vitamin Deficiencies
It’s safe to say that everyone wants to be healthy, but even with all the information available today, good health is a challenge to maintain. People with busy lives frequently make poor choices in what they eat due to time, cost, availability and food addictions.
The world of food advertising is filled with enticements that can throw your health out of whack. Even people who dramatically change their diets to improve their health often put it at risk. People who choose restrictive diets put themselves at risk if they don’t include the proper vitamins and minerals in their dietary programs.
Here are eight common vitamin deficiencies, what dangers they pose to your health and what foods you can eat to prevent them.
Iodine is key to the production of thyroid hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate, growth and stimulation of brain development. An iodine deficiency can cause a swelling of the thyroid gland, known as a goiter, difficulty breathing and rapid heart rate. This deficiency is most often found in Africa, Southeast Asia and the western Pacific Islands. A diet of seafood, eggs and dairy, eggs and salt with iodine added will help prevent iodine deficiency.
Iron deficiency is also common in developing nations, primarily affecting women and children. Vegans and vegetarians not knowledgeable in balancing their foods also run a risk of iron deficiency. You can get more iron in your diet by eating meat, certain seafoods and plant-based foods such as lentils, beans and spinach. Iron deficiency may appear as anemia, weakness or a decrease in brain functioning.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause a suppressed immune system and temporary or permanent blindness. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble retinoid which is critical to your vision, immune system and reproductive functions. It is crucial to maintaining healthy teeth, bones and skin, and is found in both animal and plant-based foods. Vitamin A deficiency is often found in people who are starving through lack of food or intentional fasting. Vitamin A-rich foods include beef liver, carrots, sweet potato and kale.
For healthy teeth and bones, calcium levels must be maintained. Extra calcium is stored in your bones, but over-ingestion of calcium can also lead to health problems such as kidney stones. Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, or brittle bones, and those most at risk of a deficiency are women, the very old and the very young. The best sources of calcium are dairy products, dark green vegetables and fish.
Vitamin B12 is crucial to brain function and the production of red blood cells, so a deficiency can lead to dizziness, weakness, jaundice and anemia. Water-soluble Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. It requires proteins to be absorbed into the body. Deficiencies are found most often found in the elderly in Western countries and in children in developing countries.
A vitamin we can get from the sun, Vitamin D is important for bone growth, immune function, calcium absorption, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. The further you live from the equator the greater your risk of deficiency from lower exposure to the sun. Vitamin D deficiency can result in delayed growth, soft bones, rickets, and weak muscles. Sources for Vitamin D include: egg yolks, fish, and cod liver oil.
An essential mineral, magnesium is required for healthy teeth and bones. Low magnesium levels can cause migraines, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, heart attacks and metabolic syndrome. Dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, avocados and dark chocolate are the best foods to eat to maintain your magnesium levels.
Zinc is necessary for your digestive and immune systems to function optimally. It helps control diabetes, is required for protein synthesis and reduces stress levels. The effects of zinc deficiency include: low blood pressure, loss of appetite, depression, and in children, reduced bone growth. Required for hundreds of enzymes to function properly, zinc can be found in meat and whole grains, some nuts and even turnips. It’s estimated that one third of the world’s population is affected by a zinc deficiency.
There are many other vitamins and minerals our body needs to function properly through all of its growth cycles. Among them are folate, vitamin K, vitamin C and more. Check with your doctor about dietary changes that can improve your health.