Could Your Health Issues Actually Be Nutrient Deficiencies?

brain health healthy eating healthy living healthy recipes real food resilience sugarfree Jul 31, 2022

You may be surprised to learn that some seemingly unrelated health issues are actually symptoms of a nutritional deficiency - and that nutritional deficiencies are actually much more common than you realize!

Most people believe eating a balanced diet provides them with the nutrients essential for good health. In theory, that’s how it should work! 

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides you with a number of beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and other biologically active components--phytochemicals.

In fact, it has been documented that consumption of at least 5 servings per day is linked with a reduced risk of various diseases, including several cancers and heart disease.

Unfortunately, even eating a varied diet and lots of fruits and veggies can still leave you with an underlying nutrient deficiency. This is because some nutrients are less bioavailable compared to foods from decades ago. 

You’re not eating your Grandmother’s garden fresh veggies anymore!

 Some common health issues that can arise from a nutrient deficiency include muscle twitches and/or cramps, brittle nails, and hormonal imbalances which can result in an entire range of health issues.

You might come to find that a health issue you’ve been overlooking is actually a sign that you’re missing some key nutrients!

We also need to be aware of an overall lack of nutrient bioavailability due to things like:

  • inadequate fruit and vegetable servings
  • soil depletion 
  • over-processing of food
  • treated water

It’s no wonder that many of us are indeed lacking in a number of key nutrients that we once came by very easily. 

Do you have any of THESE health issues right now? 

1.  Got muscle twitches or leg cramps?

A nutrient that is commonly found in plant foods, but also commonly lacking in our diets due to all of the reasons for poor bioavailability, is magnesium.

This talented mineral is involved as a cofactor for a range of biochemical reactions in the body, is involved in the structural development of bone, and plays a role in nerve impulse conduction, maintaining a normal heart rhythm and muscle contraction.

Helloooo dark chocolate!!

2.  Hormonal issues causing chaos? Maybe your fats aren’t so good.

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of hormone imbalances:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and poor sleep
  • Low libido
  • Infertility and irregular periods
  • Weight loss, weight gain or weight loss resistance
  • Digestive issues
  • Hair loss and hair thinning

Hormonal imbalances are complex, multi-faceted issues, meaning they are caused by a combination of factors such as your diet, medical history, genetics, stress levels and exposure to toxins from your environment. 

But one of the major contributors to hormonal imbalances includes your diet - and specifically a lack of fats. Good fats, that is! 

Check out my blog on Essential Fats HERE.

Hormones are built on fat, and your body can only use the building blocks you give it. 

Think wild-caught salmon, hemp seeds, coconut oil, avocados, and a special mention of GLA (gamma linoleic acid) found in evening primrose and borage oils -- studies have shown that supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.

3.  How’s your nail health? 

What's considered ‘normal’ differs in everyone, but generally, fingernails should be clear, smooth, pliable and peachy-pink in colour.

Here are some signs to watch for.  

White spots

Ever noticed white spots on your nails? 

While this is most often due to mild trauma (like banging your nail against something hard), it can also indicate a zinc deficiency.

Horizontal lines, ridges and spoons 

What about horizontal lines or ridges across your nails? 

These are sometimes called Beau's lines, and may be due to a zinc deficiency but could be indicative of low iron or anemia. Nails can be spoon-shaped at the tips with iron deficiency as well.

Dry, brittle and peeling

Dry, brittle, thin or peeling nails? 

Could just be dry nails, but possibly also…

  • a lack of protein
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Deficiency in one or more B vitamins

No half moons? 

Ever noticed the lighter-toned half-moons at the base of your fingernail? Or perhaps you haven't noticed them because they're absent all together! 

This is usually due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency and is also associated with anemia. 

So, how do we get all the nutrients we need, and improve our health?

Even with striving to maintain a healthful, balanced diet, it’s apparent that many of us may not be getting all the nutrients we need for optimal health.

Things that contribute to acquiring nutrient deficiencies:

  • Lack of nutrient bioavailability

  • Poor dietary choices

  • Restricted diets

  • Food sensitivities & intolerances

  • Gastrointestinal disorders

  • Poor nutrient absorption (through the small intestine)

  • Some medications

As always, getting your full complement of nutrients is encouraged through whole food sources, but sometimes our diet just isn’t meeting all of our needs and this is where supplementation may be necessary.

Check out my blog on Healthy Supplements HERE

The Bottom Line

  • Do your best to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (Eat the Rainbow!), along with healthy proteins and fats every day
  • If possible, buy locally and choose organic–both produce and animal products. 
  • Avoid processed food products and limit high glycemic carbohydrates. 
  • Ideally your plate at every meal, including breakfast, will be at least ½ to ⅔ fresh veggies and fruits. 
  • Speaking of local, summer is a great time to check out your local farmers’ markets!
  • For better nutrient bioavailability, there are certain food pairings that increase the uptake and absorption of one or more nutrients = synergistic effect.  For example, pairing sources of Vitamin C with sources of Iron to increase the uptake and absorption of the Iron.  One way to do this is in a fresh, vibrant spinach salad with juicy strawberries!
  • So check out this delicious Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Berry Vinaigrette!

 

Recipe ~ Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Berry Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 cups baby spinach leaves (organic preferable)
  • 4 cups strawberries, fresh sliced (organic preferable)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped & toasted (or other fave nut or seed, lightly toasted) 
  • Dairy option: crumbled goat cheese

Dressing - in a small bowl, whisk together the following:

  • ½ avocado or virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic (or raspberry-infused wine vinegar for a lighter, less sweet option)
  • 2 Tbsp honey (unpasteurized preferable)
  • Pinch smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Salad preparation

  1. In a large bowl, gently toss all salad ingredients.
  2. Pour dressing over top and toss gently to just combine.
  3. If using, sprinkle goat cheese over the top of the salad or just on individual plates as it can get “mashed into” the salad very easily. 
  4. Spinach does not generally keep very long, and becomes wilted quickly. This salad is best served immediately.

References

The Wellness Business Hub: Yes, We Do Have Nutrient Deficiencies!

CanPrev: Nutrient Deficiencies - Why Nearly Everyone Has Them

Scientific American: Have Fruits & Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

Dr Axe: Balance Hormones Naturally

 

For more info on this and other natural health topics:

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