Nutritional deficiencies

You may be walking around with nutritional deficiencies and not even know it. I doubt that your doctor will tell you. I know mine has never discussed nutrition. I’m a vegetarian and I have a feeling I may have some nutritional deficiencies. See below. Are you getting the adequate supply of these nutrients? If not, you may have to act like your own doctor and find out what nutrients you may be lacking. Here’s ones I suspect I’m lacking:

Protein (amount depends on weight. Multiply body weight by .37. That means I need around 70 grams but some books I read say that people eat too much protein and that women need around 50-60 grams)

Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, being about 16 percent of our total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein. However, protein plays a major role in all of the cells and most of the fluids in our bodies. In addition, many of our bodies’ important chemicals — enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and even our DNA — are at least partially made up of protein. Although our bodies are good at “recycling” protein, we use up protein constantly, so it is important to continually replace it.

What foods have the most protein?

Sources: Fish, eggs, dairy products (like cheese), legumes, and nuts all have substantial amounts of protein.

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Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. It is also needed to help make DNA, the genetic material in all cells.

Take vitamin B12 and folic acid together. A deficiency of one can mask the other. They are usually sold together.

Some people have trouble absorbing and using vitamin B12 because they don’t make enough of a substance called intrinsic factor or hydrochloric acid in their stomachs. Vitamin B12 may be absorbed best by taking sublingual supplements that dissolve under the tongue. A lack of intrinsic factor may lead to Pernicious Anemia. Too little vitamin B12 gradually causes neurological problems. It is important to know that the neurological effects may be seen before anemia is diagnosed.

The common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are anemia, neuropathy (any disorder of the nervous system), and neuropsychiatric disorders, including cognitive decline or dementia;* there may also be glossitis (inflammation of the tongue). Anemia is any condition in which there is a deficiency of hemoglobin or red blood cells; there are dozens of causes. Its characteristic symptoms are pallor of the skin and mucous membranes, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, lethargy, and fatigue.

Folic acid can correct the anemia that is caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, folic acid will not correct the nerve damage also caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. Permanent nerve damage can occur if vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated. Folic acid intake from food and supplements should not exceed 1,000 μg daily in healthy individuals because large amounts of folic acid can trigger the damaging effects of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Sources of B-12: fortified breakfast cereal, fortified soy milk, fortified veggie burgers, yogurt, fish (salmon, trout, haddock, clams), eggs, certain fermented soy products–such as tempeh, miso, and seaweed–contained vitamin B-12.

The bioavailability of the B12 in the diet is just as important as including B12 in the diet; it is pointless consuming lots of B12-rich food if it occurs in a form that the body cannot absorb. The bioavailability of B12 from different food sources has been shown to differ. It has been shown that B12 in fortified foods (such as breakfast cereals) is easier to absorb than the B12 in meat, poultry and fish sources. Insufficient stomach acid or a lack of intrinsic factor will drastically reduce absorption.

Except among vegetarians, dietary deficiency of vitamin B12 is rare in American adults, because the RDA of 2.4 mcg/day is easy to obtain through foods of animal origin. That fact, however, obscures a much more important one: physiological B12 deficiency—inadequate B12 in the circulation—is easy to come by as we grow older, regardless of our diet. That’s because B12 from food can become increasingly difficult for the body to absorb—most of it is eliminated as waste. As far back as 1986, Linus Pauling recommended that all adults take 100–200 mcg/day of B12, along with what came to be called “megadoses” of most other vitamins.

RDA for adults: 2.4 mcg.

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Iron is essential to most life forms and to normal human physiology. Iron is an integral part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health. In humans, iron is an essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport. It is also essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. A deficiency of iron limits oxygen delivery to cells, resulting in fatigue, poor work performance, and decreased immunity. On the other hand, excess amounts of iron can result in toxicity and even death.

Mild to moderate iron deficiency anemia is treated by iron supplementation with ferrous sulfate or ferrous gluconate. When you are suffering from iron deficiency invoked anemia, you can experience symptoms like brittle nails, tongue inflammation and “unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances such as ice, dirt or pure starch.”

There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells. Heme iron is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish, and poultry. Iron in plant foods such as lentils and beans is arranged in a chemical structure called nonheme iron. This is the form of iron added to iron-enriched and iron-fortified foods. Heme iron is absorbed better than nonheme iron, but most dietary iron is nonheme iron. Absorption of heme iron ranges from 15% to 35%, and is not significantly affected by diet. In contrast, 2% to 20% of nonheme iron in plant foods such as rice, maize, black beans, soybeans and wheat is absorbed.

Signs of iron deficiency anemia include:
-feeling tired and weak
-decreased work and school performance
-slow cognitive and social development during childhood
-difficulty maintaining body temperature
-decreased immune function, which increases susceptibility to infection
-glossitis (an inflamed tongue)

Sources of iron: eggs, spinach, enriched breakfast cereals, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, and baked beans), soybeans and tofu, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, tofu, kelp, almonds, baked potatoes, canned beans, canned asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, rice, maize, black beans, soybeans, wheat. Tuna, Halibut and Shrimp are some sources of heme iron.

Plant sources of iron are absorbed about 5% compared with animal flesh sources at about 20%. Plant sources of iron can be absorbed up to 3 times by combining with ascorbic acid or source of vitamin C such as orange juice, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, or broccoli. Diets high in phytate (nuts and grains), polyphenols (black tea), and caffeine can significantly inhibit iron absorption.

Vitamin C may aid in the body’s ability to absorb iron.

RDA: 18 mg/day for ages 19-50. (never take over 45mg)

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Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. It plays a role in the Citric acid cycle, which is the process by which biochemical energy is generated during aerobic respiration. Biotin not only assists in various metabolic reactions, but also helps to transfer carbon dioxide. Biotin is also helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails.

Biotin supplements are often recommended as a natural product to counteract the problem of hair loss in both children and adults. Biotin deficiency may lead to skin rash, hair loss, high cholesterol and heart problems.

Good dietary sources of biotin include: brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, liver, cauliflower, salmon, bananas, carrots, egg yolks, sardines, legumes and mushrooms.

Recommended Adequate Intake: 30mcg/day for ages 19-70.

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Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, has several important functions. More than 99% of total body calcium is stored in the bones and teeth where it functions to support their structure. The remaining 1% is found throughout the body in blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells. Calcium is needed for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and sending messages through the nervous system. A constant level of calcium is maintained in body fluid and tissues so that these vital body processes function efficiently.

Sources: milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, kale, calcium-fortified drinks (like orange juice) or food. Spinach has calcium but not as much as other foods. See the related link below for more info and sources.

Recommended Adequate Intake of calcium for ages 19-50: 1000mg/day

Vitamin D helps improve calcium absorption. Your body can obtain vitamin D from food and it can also make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Thus, adequate vitamin D intake from food and sun exposure is essential to bone health.

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-Take care of yourself. Either use supplements and/or eat food sources rich in your deficient nutrients if you’re not getting enough.
-See a nutritionist
-Or get a personalized nutrition test through the internet. I found an interesting website that offers them.


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