3 Common Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are a lot more common than people think and certain groups of our population are at higher risk than others. Vitamins and minerals are essential to our bodies normal function so not eating enough or absorbing enough can have dangerous consequences. While most people aren't severely deficient, there are several mild deficiencies that are very common in the UK. Let's look at 3 of the most common ones, their effects and foods you can eat to avoid them.

1. Iron 

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies out there. Many women don't get enough iron and due to menstruation, we lose it regularly so it is vital we keep our stores up! Iron deficiency causes anaemia which is where our blood cells cannot carry as much oxygen due to the lack of iron. Anaemia makes us feel sluggish, tired and short of breath, it also means our tissues aren't getting as much of the important oxygen they need to function. The good news is that there are plenty of different foods that contain iron: red meat and liver are the best sources of iron, but shellfish, lentils, spinach, beans, chickpeas and seeds are also great sources. One thing to note is that our body does not absorb plant-based sources of iron as well as animal sources, so you may need to consume more of the plant sources to get the same effect. If you have any of the anaemia symptoms, it may worth getting your blood checked by your doctor as you may need an iron supplement.

2. Vitamin D

We all know that we can make plenty of vitamin D in the sunshine, but did you know that in the UK and many other countries, the sun is too weak from September-April for us to make any vitamin D? As there aren't many food sources of vitamin D, the UK now recommends we all take a supplement during these winter months as many of us become severely deficient by March. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium which is vital for bone health. Deficiency has also been linked to several other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, diabetes, schizophrenia and depression. 10μg per day is recommended in the UK, and as most of us rarely eat more than 3μg a day, we should all be supplementing!

3. Zinc 

Zinc is a much lesser known about nutrient that is actually very important! It is involved in many different reactions in the human body that are important for our day-to-day metabolism, it is also important for our immune system, wound healing, skin health, fertility and hormone production. There is also a potential link between zinc deficiency and acne that is still being researched but many people report that upping their zinc intake improves their skin. Good sources of zinc include seafood, lamb, beef, chickpeas, sunflower seeds and lentils.


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