Nutrient deficiencies threaten your health. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of their deficiencies.
You may follow a healthy and balanced diet, for example, yet still have multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
An at-home deficiency test can help you spot these deficiencies. You prick your thumb at home, send the result to a lab, and get fast feedback on the nutrients within your blood.
Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies are more common than others. Here are the most common types of vitamin and mineral deficiencies found in the world today.
1) Iron Deficiency
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in oxygen transportation and red blood cell activity. Your red blood cells use iron to bind with hemoglobin, transporting oxygen to your cells.
In a WHO survey, researchers found that nearly 25% of people worldwide are iron deficient.
Nearly half of all preschool children worldwide don’t get their daily recommended intake of iron. Children are at a particularly high risk if they’re not eating iron-fortified foods.
Iron deficiency is also common in women who are nursing or pregnant. According to that same WHO study, 30% of menstruating women are iron deficient due to blood loss, while 42% of young, pregnant women are iron deficient.
Vegans and vegetarians have a much higher risk of iron deficiency. Plant-sourced iron (non-heme iron) is harder for your body to absorb than animal-sourced iron (heme iron).
There are two dietary types of iron, including:
Heme Iron: Iron from animal sources is known as heme iron. It’s easy for your body to absorb. Red meat is particularly rich with heme iron. You can only get heme iron from animal sources.
Non-Heme Iron: Non-heme iron comes from both animal and plant sources. Although it’s more common, non-heme iron is harder for your body to absorb.
Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, a common condition where your red blood cells don’t carry enough oxygen.
Overall, iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the world.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
Common symptoms of iron deficiency are similar to the common symptoms of anemia and include:
- Weakened immune system
- Mental fog and impaired brain function
Best Iron Sources
The best sources of iron include:
- Red meat
- Organ meat
- Canned sardines
- Beans (non-heme iron)
- Seeds (non-heme iron)
- Broccoli, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens (non-heme iron)
Most health experts recommend avoiding iron supplements and increasing iron intake via your diet instead. It’s easy to take too much iron via an iron supplement, which could be bad for health.
2) Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is crucial for thyroid function. Your thyroid produces hormones linked to hunger, growth, brain development, and bone health. Problems with your thyroid can lead to problems throughout your body.
Iodine is relatively common in developing parts of the world. However, it’s rare in most developed countries. Several countries have passed laws forcing table salt companies to add iodine, which has reduced rates of iodine deficiency.
If you are deficient in iodine, you may develop a goiter, or an enlargement of your thyroid gland. Left untreated, iodine deficiency leads to severe development problems in children, including delayed mental development.
Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency
The most common symptom of iodine deficiency is a goiter. The full list of iodine symptoms include:
- Enlarged thyroid gland (a goiter)
- Faster heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain
- Developmental issues in children
Best Iodine Sources
- Plain yogurt and other diary products
The amount of iodine varies widely, even in these iodine-rich foods. The average egg contains around 16% of your daily value (DV) of iodine, for example, but other foods can contain anywhere from 5% to 20% per serving. Check the label.
3) Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12, like most vitamins and minerals on your list, is crucial for multiple bodily processes. Your body uses vitamin B12 for brain and nerve function, blood production, and more.
Vegetarians and vegans are more likely to be deficient in vitamin B12 because there are few plant sources of vitamin B12. Although some seaweed contains trace amounts of vitamin B12, the best food sources include organ meat, eggs, milk products, and certain types of seafood.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Low energy
- Brain fog and impaired brain function
Sources of Vitamin B12
The best dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Meat, including organ meat
- Clams and oysters
- Milk products
- Vitamin B12 supplements
Many vegans and vegetarians take vitamin B12 supplements because it’s hard to get vitamin B12 from plant sources. Vitamin B12 is safe to take even in high doses because it’s water-soluble, which means your body excretes excess vitamin B12 in urine.
4) Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is involved in processes throughout the body. In fact, nearly every cell in your body has a vitamin D receptor.
Your body produces vitamin D from a chemical reaction that occurs when sunlight contacts your skin. The more sunlight you get per day, the less likely you are deficient in vitamin D. The intensity of the sunlight also plays a role. People who live near the equator are less likely to be deficient than people who live at higher or lower latitudes (during the winter months).
Roughly half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. It’s particularly common among people with darker skin, as your skin produces less vitamin D from sunlight, with over 80% of people with dark skin having vitamin D deficiency.
If you aren’t getting vitamin D from sunlight, then you need to get it from dietary sources or supplements.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is common because the symptoms are difficult to spot. It may take years or decades to develop noticeable symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
However, common symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Bone loss
- Increased risk of bone fractures and broken bones
- Weakened immune system
- Mental fog
Best Vitamin D Sources
It’s difficult to get vitamin D through food sources. It’s better to get vitamin D through sun exposure. However, common vitamin D sources include:
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish
- Cod liver oil
- Certain dairy products fortified with vitamin D
5) Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesemia, is a common but overlooked health problem. Approximately 75% of Americans do not get their recommended daily intake of magnesium.
Some people have low magnesium even though they get sufficient magnesium from dietary sources. Your body may naturally lose magnesium, for example, leading to health problems.
If you have low magnesium, then you could have an increased risk of diabetes, digestive issues, celiac disease, and bone problems.
People with alcoholism are more likely to be magnesium deficient.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency is a difficult deficiency to diagnose on its own because there are no obvious signs until you have critically low magnesium levels. That’s why you may want to take a magnesium blood test.
However, common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Mental health issues
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
Some studies also suggest that people with magnesium deficiency are more likely to develop asthma.
Best Magnesium Sources
Doctors recommend different levels of magnesium based on your age and gender. Adult men need 400mg to 420mg of magnesium per day, for example, while adult females need 310mg to 320mg. Women who are pregnant or lactating, meanwhile, need more magnesium.
The best magnesium sources include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
You can also get magnesium from sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cocoa, cashews, hazelnuts, and oats.
How to Test for Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies are easy to diagnose. Just take a test.
Today, you have plenty of options for nutrient deficiency tests, including blood tests and Science Based Nutrition tests.
At Science Nutrition Lab, we specialize in Science Based Nutrition tests.
Order a home testing kit today to discover if you have any of the common nutrient deficiencies above.