Would you know if you were suffering from a nutrient deficiency? For many of us, it can be difficult to get all of the nutrients we need from food, particularly when following a limited diet for the purpose of weight loss or managing a health condition. But many people don’t notice when they’re deficient in a particular nutrient, because they assume their symptoms are due to another medical condition or simply aging.
If you are deficient in a particular nutrient, it can set off a chain reaction. We need a certain level of each nutrient in order for our bodies to perform essential functions correctly… And when one function is disrupted, others can follow.
Look for these signs of five common nutrient deficiencies and talk to your doctor about the appropriate screenings if you experience any of them.
- Fatigue, muscle weakness or cramps, bone pain, voice box spasms, and poor immune system functioning can all be signs of a vitamin D deficiency.
- General weakness, tiredness, pale skin, poor memory, reduced appetite, and numbness or tingling in the extremities can signal a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Kidney stones, high blood pressure, blood in urine, painful urination, cloudy urine, and lower abdominal pain point to a potassium deficiency
- Fatigue, shortness of breath, cold extremities, difficulty concentrating, pale skin, and heart palpitations are symptoms of an iron deficiency.
- Dry skin, brittle nails, and muscle cramps can result from a calcium deficiency.
It’s important to remember that a nutrient deficiency, when left unaddressed, can lead to worse outcomes than the symptoms listed above. For example, a calcium deficiency will lead to osteoporosis, and in severe cases can even cause seizures and congestive heart failure. If you suspect a nutrient deficiency, it must be identified and addressed right away.
In order to prevent nutrient deficiencies, remember to eat a well-rounded diet. And because appetite often decreases with age, avoid junk food as much as possible. The last thing you want to do is fill up on nutritionally empty choices, because you lose your appetite for the foods that actually nourish you.
As for multivitamins, talk to your doctor about your options. Because nutrients are better absorbed from foods, a balanced diet should always be your first choice. But when supplements are needed, choosing a high quality product is essential.