Nutrient Deficient? How Can You Tell?

Healthy food for heart. Fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, berries and nuts. Healthy food, diet and healthy heart concept

Could you be low in essential vitamins and minerals? Learn how to spot nutrient shortfalls in your diet based on chronic symptoms.

Symptom: Symmetric low-back pain.

Possible deficiency: Vitamin D.

Sun exposure generates less vitamin D in darker-skinned people and the elderly. Obesity increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency, too.

What to eat: Salmon, egg yolks, vitamin D-fortified milk, and vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms.

Supplement with: 6,000 IU vitamin D3 daily for eight weeks for deficiency, then 1,500−2,000 IU daily to maintain levels.


Symptom: Swollen and/or bleeding gums.


Possible deficiency: Vitamin C.

About 6 percent of U.S. adults are vitamin C deficient. Vitamin C’s ability to shorten the common cold is strongest in those with a vitamin C deficiency or those who are under great physical stress, such as soldiers and marathoners.

What to eat: Red peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, and kiwifruit.

Supplement with: 200 mg vitamin C daily for optimal health.


Symptom: Goiter (swelling around neck) or hypothyroidism.


Possible deficiency: Iodine.

Especially at risk are pregnant women and those with hypertension who limit salt. Processed foods supply most salt intake, which is usually noniodized.

What to eat: Seaweed, saltwater fish, eggs, dairy products.

Supplement with: 150 mcg potassium iodide daily, or more if directed by your doctor and monitored.


Symptom: Angina (severe chest pain) or bone loss.


Possible deficiency: Vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2 directs calcium to bones, keeping them strong, and prevents calcium from accumulating in arteries, promoting flexibility.

What to eat: Cheese, natto (fermented soy), grass-fed butter, liver.

Supplement with: 120-240 mcg MK-7 daily; consult doctor if taking an anticoagulant drug.


Symptom: Numbness or tingling in limbs.


Possible deficiency: Vitamin B12.

Most at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency are vegans, older adults, weight loss surgery patients, antacid users, and those taking metformin (a diabetes drug).

What to eat: Fish, beef, yogurt, cheese, tempeh, nutritional yeast.

Supplement with: 500-750 mcg each of methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin daily.


Symptom: Poor attention span or the craving to chew ice.


Possible deficiency: Iron.

Low stores of iron (ferritin) may contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Iron is needed to make the brain chemical dopamine, necessary for focus.

What to eat: Lean beef, spinach, dark chocolate, cashews, fortified cereal.

Supplement with: 12-60 mg daily for deficiency, based on age.


Symptom: Muscle spasms or twitches.


Possible deficiency: Magnesium.

A majority of Americans don’t get enough of this mineral. Shortfalls may increase risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches.

What to eat: Nuts, seeds, legumes, spinach, oats, barley.

Supplement with: 300-400 mcg chelated magnesium (such as magnesium glycinate, or other form of magnesium ending in “ate”) daily.


Symptom: Miscarriages or male infertility.


Possible deficiency: Folate.

The MTHFR gene directs processing of folate. A common mutation in this gene (C677T) may increase miscarriages and male infertility. Supplementing with methylated folate may help.

What to eat: Dark green vegetables, legumes, asparagus, sunflower seeds.

Supplement with: 400-600 mcg L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate daily for fertility, guided by a trained doctor (find one at


Symptom: Distorted taste or poor appetite.


Possible deficiency: Zinc.

Although blatant zinc deficiency is uncommon in the U.S., it’s more likely in the elderly. Deficiency contributes to changes of aging, such as impaired immunity and increased inflammation.

What to eat: Oysters, beef, turkey breast, sprouted watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews.

Supplement with: 15-25 mg chelated zinc (such as zinc glycinate) daily


Symptom: Poor immunity or muscle weakness.


Possible deficiency: Vitamin E.

Overt deficiency is uncommon, but more than 90 percent of Americans don’t meet the dietary recommendations (RDA). Vitamin E intake above the RDA may improve immune function, especially in the elderly.

What to eat: Certain unroasted nuts and nut oils, including almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds.

Supplement with: 200-800 mg mixed tocopherols daily to support immunity.

SOURCE: This article by Jessie Shafer, RD and images by Katie Eberts is posted by permission Delicious Living (and its parent company New Hope Network), a trusted voice in the natural living community for 30 years.

About FoodTrients

Combining her passion for food and a lifelong commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle, Grace O has created FoodTrients®, a unique program for optimizing wellness. Grace O is a fusion chef with a mission: to cook up recipes for sustaining a long and joyful life that are built on a foundation of anti-aging science and her work in the health care industry. Mixing foods and unique flavors culled from a lifetime of travels from Asia to Europe and America, Grace O encourages young and old to celebrate a full life that embraces diversity. Lifestyle tips, age-defying recipes, and secrets of the healing properties of food are the centerpiece of FoodTrients™–all available through cookbooks, e-newsletters, and
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.