Many nutrients are essential to maintain good health. Though it’s possible to get most of the nutrients from a balanced nutritious diet, our modern and convenient diet lacks several important nutrients. Let’s read on to know more about nutrients, their role and its deficiencies.
So, what are the nutrients?
Nutrients are components in the food that provide essential nourishment to the body for growth and maintenance of life. Nutrients are of two types, Macro and Micro nutrients.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water which we need in larger quantities, unlike micronutrients that we need them in small quantities. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that play a major role in keeping up our health.
What is a nutrient deficiency?
Nutrient deficiency is a result of the body not getting the required amounts of one or more nutrients for normal functioning. It is also called as ‘Malnutrition’. Generally, the body stores nutrients and deficiency surfaces when the stores are depleted.
Deficiency is the result of avoiding Nutritional foods(As shown in below image).
Who can get a nutrient deficiency?
Nutrient deficiencies can occur in any age group. Children, pregnant women and senior citizens are more vulnerable to deficiencies due to their varied demand compared to the adult group. But off late even the adult group is also prone to various nutrient deficiencies.
What causes nutrient deficiencies and how are they identified?
- Skipping meals
- Restricting portion sizes
- Eating more processed foods
- The most common cause is ‘Poor food habits’. Apart from foods habits, an underlying disease or health conditions related to gastrointestinal health can also lead to nutrient deficiencies
These can be identified when the doctor identifies the symptoms, through blood tests by doing a dietary assessment and sometimes through scanning.
Some common nutrient deficiencies are:
- Vitamin B12
- Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Vitamin D
Our body needs iron to make a component called haemoglobin in combination with protein which is responsible for carrying oxygen to all tissues and muscles to function effectively. And deficiency leads to symptoms like:
- Brittle nails
- Cold hands and feet
- Dark circles under the eyes
Though it can be corrected by adding foods rich in iron like nuts, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables in milder deficiencies, supplement intervention is important depending on the severity of the symptoms
Get the organic nuts and herbal powder at our nutrition store NutraC
Vitamin B12, also called cyanocobalamin, is one of the eight B vitamins, which is commonly called as B-complex. Vitamin B-complex helps the body to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver and the nervous system functioning
Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to
- Nervousness. Severe deficiency of vitamin B12 is known to cause nerve damage.
- Weight gain
- Reduced functioning of the thyroid gland
How to overcome vitamin B 12 deficiency?
This nutrient is majorly found in animal sources like milk, dairy products, eggs, fish and meat. Vegetarian sources are poor in these nutrients except for soy milk, and tofu. For vegetarians, it is ideal to get this nutrient supplement prescribed from your doctor in-case of deficiency.
You will be able to find the right health supplements at our nutrition store NutraC
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Vitamin B9 is important as it helps the body to utilize amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. It helps the body form blood cells in the bone marrow and ensures rapid cell growth in infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy. This nutrient is extremely important and must be supplemented regularly when planning for a pregnancy. Vitamin B9 plays a crucial role in producing the body’s genetic material.
Did you know that your body loses B9 when you sweat and urinate? And your body can’t store it, so you need this vitamin daily.
Vitamin B9 deficiency causes
- Mouth sores
- Grey hair
- Swollen tongue
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in concentrating.
How to overcome vitamin B 9 deficiency?
- The easiest way is to take folic acid tablets daily until the deficiency is corrected. However, you might need to receive folic acid intravenously if your levels are too low.
- Along with taking supplements, you should eat foods that are high in folic acids, such as kidney beans, spinach, various green leafy vegetables, oranges, bananas and milk
Find the best nutritional supplements at our Nutraceutical stores in Hyderabad, NutraC.
More and more doctors are claiming that at least 90% of the urban population nationwide is vitamin D deficient. It is called the sunshine vitamin, as it is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight. It is mainly essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet.
What happens in vitamin D deficiency?
- Muscle weakness
- Body pain
- Recurrent fractures
- Recurrent respiratory tract infections
- Mood swings
- Hormonal fluctuations in both men & women
- Acne & pimples
How to overcome vitamin D deficiency?
Sun! Sun is the best source to get a dose of vitamin D. Sun exposure for an hour every day helps to get some amount of vitamin D daily.
Again, there are no vegetarian sources for vitamin D. Animal sources like egg yolk, cheese and fishes like salmon, mackerel, tuna and eel rich in vitamin D. There are many fortified food products with vitamin D available in the market like curd, milk, cereals and fruit juices. However, we best suggest checking with your Nutritionist before relying on these fortified foods since they may contain hidden sugar or fat. The best bet is to supplement. There are various leading health brands with pure vitamin D supplements in which NutraC is also one among them to find a range of health supplements.
Calcium is an essential bulk mineral. It makes up bones and teeth and is essential for the transmission of information along the nerves and is used in the contraction of muscles. In most cases calcium and vitamin D deficiency are interlinked.
What happens during Calcium deficiency?
Calcium deficiencies include skeletal abnormalities, such as
- Osteopenia- Bones have low mineral density but strong enough that they wouldn’t break so easily
- Osteomalacia- Softening of bones that can lead to serious health complications
- Osteoporosis- Reduced bone mineral density that can lead to fractures easily.
- It is also known to cause insomnia and hypertension.
- Menstrual issues in women
- Poor concentration
- Hair loss
How to overcome calcium deficiency?
Supplementation depends on the severity of the deficiency, age of the person and medical condition if any. It can also be absorbed from abundant sources like whole grains, lentils, green leafy vegetables, fruits, dairy products, eggs, meat and fish.
A strong relation between nutrient deficiencies and thyroid functioning.
Hypothyroidism is yet another growing lifestyle style disorder in the urban population. Improper thyroid functioning leads to nutrient deficiencies like iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. It is also important to know that this autoimmune disease, many a time is triggered by nutrient deficiencies.
Some tips to prevent deficiencies
- Eat fresh natural and minimally processed foods- These aren’t robbed of their nutrients and chances of you getting them are higher.
- Avoid foods with artificial sweeteners, colours or preservatives- they are not only bad for you but also affect nutrient absorption.
- Be active: Physical activeness is directly linked to effective blood circulation which further enhances absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
- Bring in variety to your menu: Including seasonal produce in your diet helps you get a wide range of nutrients which doesn’t happen when you follow a monotonous diet.
- Consult your doctor and nutritionist to get the right supplement for you to prevent any deficiencies.
Know more about the Nutrients food supplements @ NutraC.
Ashwini Sagar is a renowned diet and nutritional consultant. She has been in this field for more than a decade now. During all these years, she has developed brilliant expertise in this field and comes up with the best possible diet plans. She possesses the ability to communicate complex and sensitive information about dietary matters in an understandable form to individuals. She has a proven track record of successfully promoting healthy eating habits and suggesting diet modifications.
Ashwini is available of nutrition consultations at NutraC on prior appointments.