If we all ate the perfect diet and had our five portions of organic fruit and vegetables, it’s highly unlikely we would suffer from nutrient deficiencies. However, this does not generally happen because things get in the way.
It’s often hard for some to incorporate five portions into their diet, and to eat organically is expensive. There is even some discussion that we should actually be eating ten portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
So it is safe to assume that we are probably all lacking some vitamins and minerals, and taking a good multivitamin will do no harm. However, there are some nutrient deficiencies that we should be aware of, and the signs to look out for.
Below are some of the most important vitamins and minerals we should ensure we are getting enough of:
This vitamin comes from animal sources only and so commonly vegetarians like me will be lacking in this one. A common sign of this deficiency is a pale complexion, but you can also check your tongue and see if it’s smooth. A bumpy tongue is normal, a smooth tongue is also a sign you are lacking in B12.
Where to find it: Wild-caught fish (not farmed), shellfish, organic poultry, and eggs. For vegetarians and vegans, a good supplement will suffice with a dosage of 50mcg a day.
Interestingly, this vitamin is found in a range of foods including cauliflower, egg yolk but not the white and most mushrooms. Signs that you may be B7 deficient are dandruff, dry skin, and brittle hair as well as hair loss.
Strangely, egg whites can interfere with how the body absorbs the B7, so if you are deficient, stick to the yolk for now. This vitamin is best known for strengthening hair and nails, so it’s an important vitamin for the body.
If you have noticed unnatural weight gain, puffy eyes and legs, dry skin and brittle nails, you could be lacking in Iodine. Iodine is really essential to the body as it is used to produce hormones.
There are quite a few sources of iodine including table salt, saltwater fish and seawater vegetables such as nori used a lot in Japanese cooking. With the mass hysteria about adding too much salt to your diet a lot of people became iodine deficient, a little salt will not harm you.
A common symptom of being low in iron is tiredness. The inside of your lips, gums, and eyelids will also be paler than normal if you are iron deficient. Iron is essential for transporting oxygen to the blood in your tissues.
You can find iron in spinach, dried beans, fish and red meat. It’s advisable to take a supplement of 8mg daily if you do not eat sufficient of any of the mentioned sources. Pregnant women also need to keep an eye on their iron levels.
5. Vitamin C
If you have ever noticed your gums bleed after cleaning your teeth, you do not want to ignore it as it could mean a deficiency of Vitamin C.
A severe lack of Vitamin C in the body can lead to scurvy (we all learned about this in history lessons with the pirates at sea not having any fruit or vegetables for months on end).
Vitamin C is known for helping to boost your immune system. That’s why many people take it regularly and take extra when they feel a cold coming on. There are lots of sources of Vitamin C including mango, strawberry, watermelon, red pepper, citrus fruits, and berries.
To avoid these nutrient deficiencies, it is well worth either upping your fresh fruit and vegetables.
Even if you can’t afford organic, it’s always healthy to eat as much fruit and vegetables as you can.
If not, it’s worth investing in a good multivitamin because it’s surprising how much our body relies on these key vitamins and minerals.