While we all get sick from time to time, most of the general population operates under the assumption that they’re essentially healthy. But is this really true? Are you actually as healthy as you think you are? A quick look at nutrient deficiencies among the U.S. population says you likely aren’t.
9 out of 10 Americans Have Nutrient Deficiencies
According to research gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 92 percent of Americans suffer from at least one mineral or vitamin deficiency. In other words, the entire county is undernourished (despite being significantly overfed).
The cause of nutrient deficiency on such a large scale must be – at least in part – directly tied to American diet. High in fast foods and heavily-processed junk food, the American diet often lacks the fresh, nutrient-rich foods that are necessary in order to maintain proper nutritional balance.
The dangers of not getting enough nutrients are alarming and widespread. Just check out this interactive tool, which examines the role nutrients play in supporting healthy bodily functions. A failure to get the necessary nutrients can lead to failure in very specific areas of your health. In other words, this isn’t something to play around with.
But the biggest problem with nutrient deficiencies is that it isn’t always easy to identify why the deficiency exists in the first place.
“Even if you do eat well, other factors – such as your age and certain health conditions (digestive issues and others) – can impact your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in your food,” Dr. Joseph Mercola explains. “Meanwhile, soil quality, storage time, and processing can significantly influence the levels of certain nutrients in your food, such that even healthy produce may not be as nutrient-rich as you may think.”
Overcoming the 4 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies
The first step in overcoming a nutrient deficiency is to know you have one in the first place. While you can always have your doctor run some blood work and other tests to figure out if you’re lacking in a specific area, you can also pay attention to your symptoms and figure a lot out on your own.
If you are deficient, chances are you’re lacking in one of the following areas. Let’s highlight these common nutrient deficiencies and how you can overcome.
- Iron Deficiency
According to Healthline.com, “The most widespread nutritional deficiency worldwide is iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. This is a blood disorder that causes fatigue, weakness, and a variety of other symptoms.”
When you’re iron-deficient, your body actually produces fewer red blood cells. The blood cells that are produced are smaller than normal cells and are less efficient at delivering oxygen to tissues and organs.
There are two basic types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. The best dietary sources of heme iron are red meat, organ meat (such as liver), shellfish (like clams, oysters, and mussels), and canned sardines. The best dietary sources of non-heme iron include beans, seeds (like pumpkin or sesame), and leafy greens (such as broccoli, kale, and spinach).
- Vitamin D Deficiency
By one estimate, as much as 75 percent of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. And with a lack of vitamin D being directly tied to increased rates of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, there’s reason to be concerned.
The signs and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include achy bones, darker skin, obesity, feeling blue, poor immune functioning, and head sweating. For best results, get tested a couple of times per year. It’s also important to spend some time outdoors every day, as well as to eat foods that are rich in vitamin D. Some people – especially those who are required to spend a significant amount of time indoors – will need to take vitamin D3 supplements.
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Essential for blood formation, brain functioning, and nerve health, vitamin B12 isn’t something you can afford to be lacking in. But if you are deficient, count yourself one among millions.
Studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans are the most likely to be lacking in vitamin B12, though plenty of other people are affected as well (including many in the elderly population).
The best way to beat a vitamin B12 deficiency is through a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of shellfish, organ meat, eggs, and milk products.
- Omega-3 Fats Deficiency
Did you know that omega-3 deficiency is considered the sixth biggest killer of Americans? That’s right; research shows that a lack of omega-3 kills nearly 100,000 Americans every year.
The majority of Americans consume far too much omega-6 fats (typically found in oils and processed foods), but not enough omega-3 fats (which are important for keeping inflammation levels down). The long-term effects of this imbalance include an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, depression, and diabetes.
While increasing your diet of healthy fish is the best method for correcting this deficiency, you may also choose a supplement (such as krill oil or fish oil).
Take Your Health Seriously
Your health is too important not to take seriously. You only get one life and one body. A failure to take care of your body could lead you into a chronic sickness, or worse.
Learn to listen to your body and don’t ignore the signs and symptoms that something is wrong – no matter how innocuous they may seem. Your body has systems in place to warn you, but you have to act when the alarm bells ring.
Millions of Americans don’t. Be the exception.