Even with all the advances in medical treatments today in the US, many Americans still suffer from vitamin deficiencies. Lack of sunshine, healthy whole foods and physical activities; adhering to stringent diets; jumping from one program to the other, aka yo-yo dieting; and consuming large quantities of processed foods all play a role in this phenomena. Let's look at most common vitamin deficiencies being uncovered in medical research and the symptoms. Naturally, since I'm a big advocate of living healthfully through foods on your plate, I'll also list some wonderful food resources to remedy those deficiencies. Here are the 5 most cited in my web research:
Low vitamin B12 levels occur among 1 in 31 adults 51 years of age and older in the U.S.; and it is needed to make new red blood cells and help your nervous system work well. Symptoms include: tingling of hands and feet, changes in ability to walk, loss of vision, memory problems, seeing things that aren't there, sadness, and changes in personality.
It's important to note that B12 can only be found in animal products rich with proteins: fish, eggs, poultry, dairy products and red meat. Strict vegetarians/vegans should seek a supplement to remedy the deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency has been receiving a lot of attention by the medical industry over the past years. Symptoms may include: high blood pressure; tuberculosis; depression (including seasonal affective disorder); type I diabetes; periodontal disease; low blood calcium levels; chronic bone; muscle; or joint pain; chronic fatigue; and bowed limbs.
How can you get more Vitamin D into your daily nutrition? Just add fortified milk, yogurt, cod liver oil, shrimp, eggs, dark chocolate and fortified grain products.
According to the CDC, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the US. What are the most common symptoms? Extreme fatigue: pale skin; weakness; shortness of breath; headache; dizziness or lightheadedness; cold hands and feet; irritability; inflammation or soreness of your tongue; brittle nails; and a fast heartbeat.
Red meat, poultry, lentils, Eggs, onions, dark chocolate beans, leaf vegetables, tofu, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, fortified bread, and fortified breakfast cereals are great sources of iron and help vary your daily nutrition.
The average American diet only contains 50-60% of the RDA. Symptoms are: anxiety; heart condition; hyperactivity; insomnia; muscular spasms and cramps; and depression.
Looking for some great food sources for magnesium? Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables (kale; spinach; romaine lettuce); seeds (pumpkin and sunflower); beans (black or navy); and my personal favorite: berries.
To help you prevent and treat vitamin deficiencies, please remember to eat a wide variety of fresh and whole foods, including high-quality protein sources. I personally only buy organic or grass-fed dairy and meats. Grass-fed dairy and meats tend to be higher in vitamins and nutrients - CLA, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 to name a few. Also, integrate outdoor physical activity and movement into your daily rituals during warmer temps to gain Mother Nature's version of vitamin D. And remember - your plate on the table is the best source of vitamins and nutrients!