Eating a balanced whole-food diet, such as described in my nutrition plan, is a foundational requirement for optimal nutrition. It can be quite difficult to get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals from your diet if you do not eat real food.
Unfortunately, even if you do eat well, how and where your food was grown can also influence your nutritional intake. Soil quality, for example, can significantly influence the levels of certain nutrients in your food, even if you eat organic.
Your age and certain health conditions (digestive issues and others) can also impact your body’s ability to absorb and metabolize nutrients, potentially raising your risk for deficiencies, as can diets that restrict certain foods, such as strict vegan diets.
Below, I will review some of the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies,1 and how to address them. Eating real food is usually your best bet, but sometimes supplementation may be advisable, especially if you’re already experiencing signs of deficiency.
6 Most Common Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Studies from both the U.S.2,3,4,5,6 and the U.K.7 suggest a majority of people fail to get certain key vitamins and minerals from food alone. Topping this list are vitamins D, E, A, C, magnesium and calcium.
However, in my experience, the following nutrient deficiencies tend to have the most important impact on your health.
For even more in-depth information about the benefits of each of these vitamins and minerals, and how to optimize your levels, please see the corresponding hyperlinks provided.
|✓ Vitamin D||Oily fish and mushrooms|
|✓ Magnesium||Oily fish; nuts, especially cashews and Brazil nuts; seeds; legumes; brown rice; raw cacao; avocados; seaweed and dark leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard|
|✓ Vitamin C||Most fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruit, strawberries and kiwi|
|✓ Animal-based omega-3||Oily fish such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies|
|✓ Vitamin K2||Fermented foods such as natto and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut; certain cheeses; raw butter and kefir made from raw milk|
|✓ Potassium||Beans such as white beans and lima beans; deep greens such as spinach and broccoli; sweet potatoes; fruits such as cantaloupe, oranges, red grapefruit, plums and bananas; avocados and nuts and seeds|
Looking at this chart, it’s easy to see where the majority of problems stem from: a lack of oily fish, nuts, seeds, fermented foods and fresh vegetables in the diet.
This chart also hints at important interactions between different nutrients. Vitamins, A, D, K2, magnesium and calcium, for example, work in tandem with each other. If one is lacking, it will affect one or more of the others.
The Importance of Marine-Based Omega-3 Fats
Low concentrations of the animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA8 are associated with an increased risk of death from all causes, and omega-3 deficiency has been revealed as the sixth biggest killer of Americans.
When your diet is lacking in these anti-inflammatory omega-3s, you set the stage for health problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, just to name a few.
Along with probiotics, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D and zinc, omega-3 fats are also among the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).9
Telltale signs of omega-3 deficiency include dry, flaky skin, “chicken skin” on the back of your arms, dandruff or dry hair, soft brittle nails, fatigue, menstrual cramps and poor attention span.
Sardines and anchovies are one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fats,10 with one serving containing more than 50 percent of your recommended daily value.
They also contain other nutrients that many are deficient in, such as vitamin B12, calcium and choline. It’s best to purchase them in water, not in olive oil, as nutritionally inferior versions of olive oil are used in canned fish.
If you decide to take omega-3s in supplement form, I believe krill oil is superior to fish oil. The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it.
Nutrient Deficiencies Are Common Even Among Those Taking Supplements
Even WITH supplementation, intakes for certain nutrients fall short of the estimated requirements, and excessive intake of any given nutrient is extremely rare. As noted by the authors of one 2014 study:11
“Only 0 percent, 8 percent, and 33 percent of the population had total usual intakes of potassium, choline and vitamin K above the adequate intake when food and MVMM [multivitamin/mineral supplements] use was considered.
The percentage of the population with total intakes greater than the tolerable upper intake level (UL) was very low for all nutrients; excess intakes of zinc were the highest (3.5 percent) across the population of all of the nutrients assessed …”
Also, as noted by Medtech Boston:12
“On January 6, 2016, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and of Agriculture released the 2015 [to] 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans …
Consistent with the above findings, the Guidelines identified potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, D, E and C as nutrients ‘consumed by many individuals in amounts below the Estimated Average Requirement or Adequate Intake levels.’
And while the Guidelines state as a goal that people should ‘meet nutritional needs primarily through foods,’ they also recognize that dietary supplements are ‘useful in providing one or more nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less than recommended amounts …'”
Optimizing Your Vitamin D Can Go a Long Way Toward Improving Health
Vitamin D was one of the nutrients most people failed to get sufficient amounts of, even when taking vitamin supplements. One reason for this is probably because vitamin D is best obtained from sensible sun exposure, not pills or fortified foods.
This is how your body was designed to produce it, and oral supplementation appears to have certain drawbacks. That said, vitamin D-rich foods and D3 supplements may be necessary if you cannot get adequate sun exposure year-round.
Avoiding processed foods is another important consideration, as they tend to be loaded with the herbicide glyphosate (used on most conventional and genetically engineered food crops), and glyphosate has been shown to interfere with enzymes responsible for activating vitamin D in your liver and kidneys.
A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.
Signs indicating you may have a vitamin D deficiency include being over the age of 50, having darker skin, obesity, achy bones, feeling blue, head sweating and poor immune function.
The Importance of Magnesium
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, and researchers have detected more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins13 reflecting how important this mineral is for optimal biological functioning. The fact that magnesium is the third most common deficiency hints at the potential that magnesium deficiency might be involved in any health problem you may be experiencing.
Without sufficient amounts of magnesium your body simply cannot function at its best. Insufficient cellular magnesium levels set the stage for deterioration of proper metabolic function that can lead to more significant health problems. For example, magnesium plays an important role in:
- Your body’s detoxification processes
- Preventing headaches
- Managing cardiovascular health
- Reducing insulin resistance14,15,16 and metabolic syndrome17 if you’re at high risk. The mechanism by which magnesium controls glucose and insulin homeostasis appears to involve two genes responsible for magnesium homeostasis.18 Magnesium is also required to activate tyrosine kinase, an enzyme that functions as an “on” or “off” switch in many cellular functions and is required for the proper function of your insulin receptors
Mind Your Sodium to Potassium Balance
Sodium and potassium are two other key nutrients that need to be in balance for optimal health. It’s particularly important for heart health. In addition to getting too little potassium in their diet, most people also get too much sodium. If you eat mostly processed foods, you’re virtually guaranteed to end up with this imbalance.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), an excess of sodium in your body may cause you to retain water, putting an extra burden on your heart, blood vessels and kidneys. Past recommendations have assumed that in some people this may lead to high blood pressure.21 But, sodium is just one-half of the ratio needed to keep your body healthy. The second half of the equation is potassium.
The separate roles of sodium and potassium, and their relationship to heart health, have been studied over the years. Researchers have also evaluated the relationship between a combination of sodium and potassium and heart health. One recent study showed the sodium-to-potassium ratio was more strongly associated with blood pressure maintenance than were either sodium or potassium individually.23
Other studies have also suggested that the ratio of sodium to potassium is one of the most important risk factors for managing normal cardiovascular function.24,25,26 Women who eat a higher amount of potassium-rich foods are able to better manage their normal cardiovascular function.27
Potassium-Rich Foods Low in Sodium
The best way to balance your sodium and potassium ratio is to increase your intake of foods rich in potassium, while maintaining a moderate amount of sodium intake. Whole foods naturally high in potassium and low in sodium include:29,30
|✓ White beans||✓ Spinach||✓ Sweet potatoes|
|✓ Broccoli||✓ Cantaloupe||✓ Cherry tomatoes|
|✓ Blackberries||✓ Oranges||✓ Red grapefruit|
|✓ Plums||✓ Prunes||✓ Raisins|
|✓ Bananas||✓ Artichokes||✓ Lima beans|
|✓ Acorn squash||✓ Nuts and seeds||✓ Apricots|
|✓ Avocado||✓ Garlic||✓ Bee pollen|
Vitamin E for Brain Health
Vitamin E is particularly important for brain health, so the fact that an estimated 81 percent of 2- to 8-year-olds, 98 percent of teenagers and 95 percent of adults are at risk for deficiency is disconcerting to say the least.31 Recent animal research warns that vitamin E deficiency may actually affect the brain, and studies have also found it may help delay the loss of cognitive function.32
Vitamin E also helps protect against free radical damage and the effects of aging. The term “vitamin E” refers to a family of at least eight fat-soluble antioxidant compounds, divided into two main categories: tocopherols (which are considered the “true” vitamin E) and tocotrienols, each of which has subfamilies of four different forms.
Your best source of intake is vitamin E-rich foods. When opting for a supplement, chose a full-spectrum vitamin E (meaning the broader family of mixed natural tocopherols and tocotrienols). Avoid the synthetic form. You can tell what you’re buying by carefully reading the label. Natural vitamin E is always listed as the “d-” form (d-alpha-tocopherol, d-beta-tocopherol, etc.), while synthetic vitamin E is listed as “dl-” forms.
Tips to Supercharge Your Diet With Nutrients
As much as possible, I recommend getting the nutrients your body needs from whole foods. As shown above, many of the most common nutrient deficiencies can be traced back to a rather limited range of foods, specifically:
- Fatty fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and vegetables
Trading processed foods for real, whole foods, with a focus on these three categories, can go a long way toward correcting an array of nutritional imbalances and/or insufficiencies. Following are a few additional tips that can help boost your intake of the wide variety of nutrients your body needs:
- Homemade Bone Broth: Bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients.
- Sprouts: Sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables, allowing your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat.
- Juicing: Juicing not only helps you to consume more nutrient-rich veggies; it also helps you absorb the nutrients they contain. Juicing will help to “pre-digest” the veggies for you, so you will receive most of the nutrition, rather than having it go down the toilet.
- Fermented Foods: Fermented foods support the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which helps with mineral absorption and plays a role in producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2, the latter of which is important for the proper functioning of other nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D.
11 pounds in 22 days?
Is it REALLY possible to lose 11 lbs. of fat in 22 days? Actually yes… BUT only when you’re a level 4 fat burner. Unfortunately, most people are stuck as level 1 fat burners. So, how do you become a level 4 fat burner to lose up to 11 lbs. in 22 days? Simply eat these foods daily:
Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
Because you're about to learn easy throat exercises that cure (not just treated) your stubborn snoring – in 3 minutes – starting TONIGHT!
...even if straps, sprays and even torturing CPAP masks have failed you in the past.
Most people heal their snoring in just a few minutes per day using these powerful throat exercises. And they're so easy, you can do them, regardless of your age or physical shape.
Use them anytime, anywhere... even while stuck in traffic or watching TV.
Plus the results are permanent!
Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?
True. And it's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.
However, there's good news- Calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...
It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive. It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know. Read more to find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:
To your health!
PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.
Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating condition-and you"re not sure what the culprit is-now's the time to find out...while you can still do something about it!
--> Grab your FREE copy of this groundbreaking soft cover book today (while supplies still last.)
Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!
The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.
Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because they only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)
Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.