Do You Have One of These 5 Common Deficiencies?

Patient Expert
View as:|
1 of 7

Each of us has different needs for vitamin and mineral supplements, depending on our age, diet, health, and more. But those of us who have diabetes have some special needs, and because of our fragile immune status we have to be more careful than most folks that we get the right supplements to our diet.

Vitamin B12

Without enough vitamin B12, you can get neuropathy, a common complication of diabetes. Worse, up to 30 percent of the people who take metformin may develop low vitamin B12 levels. Some vegetarians and vegans are also at risk for a B12 deficiency because it’s mostly in animal foods and dairy products. Among the elderly low vitamin B12 levels may cause memory loss.


Iodine helps our metabolism and is essential for our thyroid to work right. Without enough, we can gain weight, get fatigue, and more. Regular salt is supplemented with iodine, but people who are on a low-salt diet and those who stick with sea salt don’t usually get enough iodine in their diet. “Iodine is not optional,” writes cardiologist William Davis.


Magnesium regulates how our cells work, helping to regulate muscle and nerve function, blood glucose levels, blood pressure, making protein, bone, DNA, and more. Studies show that it even helps to reduce insulin resistance. Most Americans don’t get enough magnesium, particularly those of us who follow a very low-carb diet that excludes grains and legumes.

Vitamin D

We are probably more lacking in vitamin D than any other vitamin or mineral. Only liver and fatty fish have much, and few of us get enough from the other natural source, sunlight. Without enough vitamin D, our bones lose density, leading to fractures. But it does much more: everything from giving us muscle strength to helping our immune system, warding off depression, and cutting the risk of heart disease.


Iron is essential because it is a key part of hemoglobin which our red blood cells use to carry oxygen. People deficient in iron can be fatigued. They can have brain fog, little energy, and depression. Most of us get too little iron, but vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk. Red meat, some fish, and dried beans are some of the best sources of iron, but you can also get iron from dark green, leafy vegetables, like spinach.

Where To Find More

Too little of these vitamins and minerals won’t help enough and too much can hurt. Talk with your doctor to get tested for any deficiencies and to see how much you need. You may also need to get other vitamins and minerals. A great guide is The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion about Vitamins and Your Health, which I was able to read in advance of its publication later this month.