Common Deficiencies And How To Avoid Them
Vitamins and minerals are called essential nutrients for a reason! They perform hundreds of, yep you guessed it, ESSENTIAL tasks and functions in the body.
Certain groups of people are more likely to be deficient in important vitamins and minerals, these include; young woman, female athletes, those with absorption issues, those following a vegetarian or plant based diet and the elderly. If you fall into one of these categories (and even if you don’t) it’s important to be aware of potential deficiencies and what you can do to increase your intake and absorption of these essential micronutrients.
Calcium deficiency is more common than you might think. The average intake of calcium (in the western world) is between 700-800 mg per day while the recommended intake is around 1000 mg per day. There are two groups at slightly higher risk of calcium deficiency; adolescent girls and post-menopausal women. So how do you know if you’re deficient? Unfortunately there is no easy way of knowing and no obvious signs. This is why fractures often occur before the known cause (osteoporosis due to calcium deficiency) is identified. To ensure you are getting the recommended intake aim to consume 2.5 to 3 serves of dairy per day or on most days. If you have any issues with dairy or choose not to consume dairy products, calcium fortified non-dairy milk is a great alternative and should be a staple in your diet!
Iodine deficiency is one of the most common worldwide. Iodine is an essential component of various thyroid hormones and plays a key role in the regulation of metabolic processes, particularly growth and energy expenditure. Good sources of iodine include; oysters, sushi (seaweed), tinned salmon, bread (not organic), cheddar cheese, eggs, regular milk, beef, apples, oranges, grapes and bananas.
- We recommend incorporating bread in your diet weekly as the use of iodised salt is mandatory in the production of bread in many countries (this doesn’t include organic bread)
- Bread and white fish are two foods in particular that will help you reach your recommended iodine levels
Iron + B12
Iron is another very common micronutrient deficiency. Women are at a much higher risk of low iron levels due to the blood lost during menstruation. To meet the recommended dietary intake for iron, consume 2.5 – 3 serves of meat per day. Consuming your meat with vegetables that are rich in iron AND good sources of vitamin C will help with iron absorption as well! Those following a vegetarian or plant based diet should implement the strategy of consuming iron rich plant based foods such as kidney beans, tofu, legumes, nuts or iron enriched cereals with foods high in vitamin C like broccoli, oranges or grapefruits to increase absorption of iron. Another tip for is to purchase an iron skillet and use this for grilling! Studies have shown foods cooked in an iron skillet absorb some of that iron.
As vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal foods it is a common deficiency in those eating a plant based diet. B12 fortified cereals are a good place to start but as long term deficiency can cause serious problems we recommend consulting your health care professional if you don’t eat any meat or dairy products.
Every food has a different micronutrient profile, so this week aim to consume a wide variety of ingredients (aim for 25 different foods each day!) to obtain as many vitamins and minerals as possible!
Don't want to miss anything?
Get the latest recipes, workouts, success stories, tips and more right in your inbox.