We mostly look well nourished in the western world, but the reality tells a different story.
At least 55 per cent of us have some form of nutrient deficiency. This can be caused by bad food choices, poor quality of soil, eating out of season and from cold storage.
It’s common to be overweight and under nourished, caused most often by eating too much food. Diets such as veganism can also lead to nutrient deficiencies because animal and plant foods are complimentary – they get the best from each other, and we need them both.
Vitamins and minerals have a dramatic impact on our health so it’s important to eat the right foods and have blood tests to ensure you’re not deficient.
Some deficiencies can be mild while others can cause a lifelong impact.
Some of the main deficiencies suffered are:
1. Iron. About 8 per cent of pre-school children, 12 per cent of pregnant women and 15 per cent of non-pregnant women of reproductive age suffer anaemia which is the most severe form of iron deficiency. Symptoms are extreme fatigue, light-headed, dizzy, fast heart rate, palpitations, brittle nails, and shortness of breath.
2. B12. This deficiency is particularly common in aged care where 14 per cent of patients are low in Vitamin B12. It affects memory, balance, fatigue and usually goes hand in hand with iron deficiency.
3. Calcium. Deficiency can be caused by a lack of Vitamin D, and you may not have any symptoms other than muscle weakness and spasms, fatigue or pins and needles. It’s difficult to eat adequate calcium in the diet, needing 1300mg a day over the age of 50.
4. Iodine. Australia has very low iodine levels but it’s a crucial mineral to support thyroid function. It can cause constipation, fatigue, weight gain and low thyroid.
5. Vitamin D. More than a third of Australians have a severe deficiency. It plays a huge role in immunity, lowering in winter because we don’t get as much sun. Causes weakened bones, muscle pain and weakness.
6. Zinc. 85 per cent of Australian women and 50 per cent of men don’t eat enough zinc. Oysters are the best source, along with seaweed. It’s crucial for supporting immunity and deficiency can cause hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, skin, and vision problems.
7. Magnesium. 95 per cent of people are deficient which can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease, muscle weakness, shakiness, cramps, sleeplessness, abnormal heart rhythm and migraine.