Inadequate intake of nutrients may result from many factors including an improper diet, medication, chronic disease, gut health and other barriers to absorption. Nutrient inadequacies cause symptoms such as fatigue, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. Inadequacies overtime can lead to nutrient deficiencies, with more severe health outcomes. In the United States, some of the most common nutrient inadequacies, as documented by NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data include: Vitamins A, C, and D, magnesium, and potassium. These inadequacies put you at risk of ill health.
As you read through the importance and source of each nutrient below ask yourself: “do I eat this food source regularly?” If the answer is no, chances are, there is room for improvement.
More than ½ of the adult population is shy of having adequate Vitamin A levels. Our bodies need Vitamin A for healthy immunity, skin, and vision. Healthy sources of Vitamin A include: eggs, fatty fish, and full-fat dairy products. Additionally our bodies can convert the beta-carotene found in yellow and red vegetables, and leafy greens, into vitamin A.
Just shy of half of the adult population has inadequate levels of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for immunity, wound healing, healthy skin, bones, blood vessels, and cells. Healthy sources of Vitamin C include: brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes and peppers.
The majority of adults do not meet the recommended levels of adequacy for Vitamin D, and nearly 42% are deficient. Vitamin D is important for immunity, healthy bones, teeth and muscles, as well as for regulating other nutrients. Sunlight is the primary source of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, as seasons shift, as we age, and with increasing skin melanin levels — the ability to produce vitamin D declines, making it extra challenging to have adequate levels of Vitamin D from sun exposure. Only about 5-10% of Vitamin D is obtained from food, with these lower quantities found in: fatty fish, eggs, grass-fed red meats, and dried shiitake mushrooms. Supplementation is often needed!
More than ½ of the population has inadequate magnesium levels. Magnesium is important for our bones, muscles, nervous system, for hormone regulation and for energy production. Healthy sources of magnesium include: leafy greens, beans, nuts, and dark chocolate.
Again, more than ½ of the population has inadequate potassium levels. Potassium is important for muscles, nerves, detoxification and energy. Healthy sources of potassium include: avocado, bananas, beans, fish, chicken, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Make these nutrients a regular on your plate. If you are curious about your levels and want to optimize this area of your health, you can always get your labs done!