Tips for Dealing with the Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies

Frequent tiredness, pain, anxiety, brain fog, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, hair loss, or infections are conditions that a lot of people experience.

When an individual approaches a nutritionist with these issues, they would normally first check for potential nutrient deficiencies. Frequently, unexplained symptoms like the ones mentioned stem from insufficient intake of essential vitamins and minerals.

And if you happen to be experiencing one or more of them, chances are, you have a nutrient deficiency. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with them depending on the specific deficiency that you have.

Here, we’re going to talk about the 6 most common nutrient deficiencies that people experience and how you can deal with them:


Calcium plays a crucial role in various processes, including bone formation, muscle function, blood vessel contraction, nerve transmission, and hormone secretion.

Both men and women should aim for a daily intake of 1,000-1,200 mg to support these functions. However, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlight that many in the U.S. don’t meet these recommendations, marking calcium as a nutrient of public health concern.

You’ll notice calcium listed prominently on Nutrition Facts labels to draw attention to potential underconsumption. Inadequate calcium levels share symptoms with vitamin D deficiency, leading to reduced bone strength and osteoporosis.

To prevent low levels, make sure you include a variety of calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as tofu, tahini, leafy greens, and fortified plant milk.


Iron is vital for physical growth, cellular function, neurological development, muscle metabolism, and hormone synthesis. Its primary role is in producing hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.

When iron stores drop, tissues and muscles receive insufficient oxygen. This can then lead to iron deficiency anemia.

Individuals who have iron deficiency show symptoms like weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, hair loss, and frequent infections due to this condition. If you suspect iron deficiency anemia, ask your doctor for blood tests, including complete blood count (CBC), iron, hemoglobin, and ferritin levels.

Men should aim for 8 mg and women for 18 mg of iron daily from foods like beans, peas, pumpkin seeds, tofu, and spinach, paired with vitamin C for optimal absorption. For instance, a spinach salad with citrus vinaigrette is an ideal combo of iron and vitamin C.


Magnesium is a crucial mineral that plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body.

It plays a key role in muscle and nerve function, protein synthesis, blood sugar regulation, DNA synthesis, and blood pressure control. The body’s potent antioxidant, glutathione, also relies on magnesium for its production.

Despite these essential functions, many people fall short of the recommended 400 mg of daily magnesium. Deficiency symptoms include leg cramps, insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, and fatigue. Decreased magnesium in the soil contributes to this shortfall, impacting crop concentrations.

However, you can still meet your magnesium needs by incorporating various plant foods like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, cashews, soy milk, spinach, and black beans into your diet.

If you choose to supplement, consider starting with 100 mg of magnesium glycinate and gradually increasing to 300-400 mg per day (consult your healthcare practitioner before making changes).


Selenium plays a key role in reproduction, DNA synthesis, immune support, protection from oxidative damage, and thyroid hormone metabolism.

Inadequate selenium intake may contribute to thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism, Hashimoto thyroiditis, and Graves’ disease. It can also lead to Keshan disease, a type of heart condition, and male infertility.

To maintain health, both men and women are advised to consume a minimum of 55 mcg daily. Brazil nuts are an excellent source, providing a substantial 96 mcg in just one nut.

Other selenium-rich foods include oatmeal, whole wheat bread, lentils, and brown rice.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also impact the health of red blood cells, leading to anemia. Untreated, low B12 levels can also impair normal brain and nerve function.

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency is common in older adults who lack sufficient hydrochloric acid for B12 absorption and those deficient in intrinsic factor, a protein crucial for B12 uptake. Improperly planned vegan and vegetarian diets may also contribute to B12 deficiency.

Common symptoms include fatigue, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, tingling in the hands or feet, weight loss, and infertility.

To maintain health, adults should aim for at least 2.4 mcg daily. While animal foods are the primary B12 source, supplementation, dairy alternatives, or nutritional yeast fortified with this essential vitamin can provide sufficient intake.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common in our modern lifestyle, and this is due to reduced sunlight exposure and insufficient dietary intake.

This fat-soluble vitamin is crucial for promoting calcium absorption in the intestines and maintaining adequate serum calcium and phosphorous levels, essential for bone mineralization. Inadequate vitamin D can lead to brittle bones, causing conditions like rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.

Additionally, vitamin D possesses anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. While many healthcare professionals consider a vitamin D level of 50 ng/L sufficient, an optimal range for disease prevention is 60-80 ng/L.

To meet daily needs, aim for 10-15 minutes of sun exposure and include vitamin D-rich foods like mushrooms and fortified plant milk in your diet. Alternatively, consider a vitamin D3 + K2 supplement.

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