Comparatively speaking, we live in a time when our diets consist of a wide variety of foods. Advances in canning and freezing foods and the ability to transport foods around the world quickly provide us with diets that are drastically more diverse than the foods consumed by our grandparents. However, even with all the grocery items available to us, it is still possible that our diets lack some essential nutrients that are needed for the body to function at its highest level.
It is important to maintain proper nutrient levels because nutrients help replenish the body on a most basic cellular level. When cells are not supported by adequate nutrient intake, the body’s vital processes can slow down or halt altogether, leading to symptoms that diminish a person’s quality of life, and in some cases, the onset of serious diseases.
Below is a list of five common diet deficiencies and the symptoms you may experience if your meal plan lacks these nutrients.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin because the body synthesizes vitamin D from the sun. If you are active outdoors and it is the summertime, getting enough vitamin D is generally not an issue. However, during the cold, short days of winter when people will limit their time outdoors, you can develop a vitamin D deficiency. Telltale signs of not getting enough vitamin D include being fatigued, having muscle aches, and experiencing weakness. To avoid this deficiency, eat three servings of dairy every day and supplement your diet with two servings of fatty fish, like salmon or tuna, per week.
The red blood cells in your body are made with the help of iron. If you experience inadequate iron levels, oxygen cannot be properly carried throughout the body. This leads to fatigue, paleness, hair loss, and anemia. You can increase your iron levels by eating more beans, lentils, beefs, oysters, and spinach.
Potassium is essential for proper organ functioning. Unfortunately, you can experience low level of potassium because of diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive sweating. Signs of potassium deficiency include unplanned weight loss, muscle cramping or weakness, constipation, and irregular heartbeats. To boost your potassium intake, eat more whole grains, milk, bananas, vegetables, peas, and beans.
Calcium is well-known for helping to build and maintain strong bones, but did you know that it is also essential for muscle and nerve functioning? If you are not getting enough calcium, you can experience tiredness, cramping muscles, irregular heartbeats, and bone weakness. Consuming three or more servings of calcium-rich foods, like dairy products and dark leafy vegetables, per day is a great start for providing the body with enough calcium.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is necessary to maintain the proper production of your body’s DNA and supports the brain’s neurotransmitter functions. Since vitamin B12 is found in animal sources, vegans are particularly susceptible to deficiencies of this vitamin. Common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include numbness in the extremities, unstable balance, tiredness, anemia, weakness, inflamed tongue, memory problems, hallucinations, and feelings of paranoia. Vitamin B12 levels can be increased by eating more lean meats and fish, or consuming vitamin B12 fortified meat substitutes if you are vegan.