Nutrient Deficiency: A Hidden Threat to Your Health

overview of foods that combat nutrient deficiency

If you’re constantly feeling like you’re dragging your feet, you have a cold you just can’t seem to shake, or your hair is suddenly falling out, you might just be nutrient deficient. And that’s no joke! Being deprived of essential nutrients is one of the biggest health risks out there. Nutrient deficiency will not only weaken your immune system but also increase your likelihood of suffering from illnesses, such as osteoporosis and depression, among many others. It can also contribute to your lack of sleep. Overall, your life will be better if your nutrients are in check.

Luckily, being nutrient deficient is one of the health issues that is most easily solved. Let’s examine how to identify it, and how to deal with it.

What is Nutrient Deficiency?

According to Tricia L. Psota, Ph.D., RDN, a lecturer at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington D.C., “Nutrient deficiencies alter bodily functions and processes at the most basic cellular level.” Psota adds, “These processes include water balance, enzyme function, nerve signaling, digestion, and metabolism. Resolving these deficiencies is important for optimal growth, development, and function.”

Basically, being deprived of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals will have all sort of effects on your health.

Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms

How can you identify nutrient deficiency? Specific symptoms will vary depending on the vitamin and/or mineral you are lacking, but a few common symptoms to look out for are:

  • Skin issues (dry or itchy skin, eczema, acne, acne-like bumps in the body)
  • Problems with eyes (dryness, night or color blindness, recurring conjunctivitis, infected eyes, etc.)
  • Coarse or splitting hair
  • Brittle or colorless nails
  • Teeth and mouth issues (bleeding gums, gingivitis, tooth loss)
  • Poor immunity (recurring colds and flu, anemia, slow wound healing, bruising)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues
  • Jaundice
  • Depression
  • Muscle cramps

While these symptoms might hint at nutrient deficiencies or other health issues, the only surefire way to know if you lack any specific nutrient is to perform a blood test. If you suspect you might be nutrient deficient, you should discuss it with your primary care physician on your next visit. You can also order an at-home nutrient deficiency test kit online.

How to Eliminate (or Avoid) Nutrient Deficiency

As we mentioned before, nutrient deficiency is one of the easiest health issues to fix. Why? Because nutrient deficiency is commonly caused by the lack of food we should be consuming in the first place. In most cases, increasing our intake of certain foods will correct any deficiencies. Here are a few examples:

Iron Produces Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells are responsible for oxygenating our body. No iron equals no oxygen, which, in turn, results in anemia. Anemia causes fatigue, pale skin and thinning hair. To increase your iron intake, you should eat iron-fortified cereal, beef, oysters, beans, lentils and spinach.

Calcium and Vitamin D Strengthen Your Bones

Calcium might have been milk’s greatest calling card since the time of our grandmothers. Nevertheless, it’s no lie that calcium is necessary to strengthen your musculoskeletal system. Milk, however, is not even the top calcium and Vitamin D powerhouse. You can consume seeds, canned sardines and salmon, beans and lentils, cheese, dark, leafy greens, and yogurt, among many other things, to get the calcium and Vitamin D you need each day.

You can also increase your Vitamin D intake by spending 10 minutes a day outside. Isn’t that a good reason to soak in some rays—even just for a few minutes?

Potassium Helps Your Heart, Nerves and Muscles to Work Properly

Potassium is an essential nutrient for your muscle- and nerve function. Muscle weakness, constipation, tingling and numbness, and, in severe cases, an abnormal heart rhythm, are all signs that you might be potassium deficient. To increase potassium intake, eat bananas, whole grains, milk, vegetables, beans and peas.


Nutrient deficiency is not something you’d want to ignore. It can affect most of your bodily functions and lead to serious, long-term illnesses. Make sure to keep your nutrients in check by eating a healthy, balanced diet.

To your health!

About the Author

Dawna is a mom of two young kids, puppy lover, ice cream lover, chocolate lover, and lover of any ice cream with chunks of chocolate in it. She is the author of seven books, a business owner, certified health coach, motivational speaker, and creator of the 5-Day Detox and the 14-Day Clean-Eating Program. Dawna appears regularly on local and national television. She has appeared on the Today show, Martha, MSNBC, HSN, and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna is a highly sought-after speaker and has done speaking engagements for Chobani, Disney, American Heart Association, Mass Mutual, Wharton Business School, Women’s Entertainment Television, PGA Tour, Super Bowl Leadership Forum, Susan G. Komen, and many more.
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