5 Common Nutrient Deficiencies + How To Spot Them Quickly

Balance our complex nutritional needs and avoiding nutritional deficiencies can be challenging these days. It’s all too easy to reach for fast and convenient foods over the healthier, whole-food options that better sustain our energy and brain health.

Kavita Desai, Pharm. D. is a tireless advocate for women’s health and wants more of us to understand the unique impact these health and lifestyle factors can have on our health.

After a decade and a half in a hospital and community pharmacy setting, Desai launched a private integrated clinical pharmacy and medical center in 2006. She is also the founder of women’s health brand Revivele, an educational platform dedicated to putting women at the forefront of the health conversation regarding disease prevention and cognitive health.

Developing nutrient deficiencies from a poor or unbalanced diet can affect our overall health and put us at greater risk of disease. Here are some of the most common flaws that many people experience and what you can do about it…

Vitamin D deficiency

Why do we need it?
Vitamin D is actually a hormone not a vitamin! It is essential for many body functions such as
immunity, brain function, sleep, mental health and has antioxidant properties. But most of them
more importantly, we need vitamin D to help with proper absorption of calcium.

Symptoms of low vitamin D:
Anxiety and depression, bone pain, impaired wound healing, hair loss, muscle weakness or
get sick more often.

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Where to get vitamin D:
Vitamin D3 (the active form of vitamin D) is converted in our skin with regular, daily exposure to
UV light from the sun. It can also be obtained from foods such as fatty fish (such as mackerel
and salmon), egg yolks, beef liver and vitamin D-fortified foods. Because of the significant health
the benefits of vitamin D, and the difficulty of obtaining through diet or UV exposure alone, is
recommended to supplement daily based on your blood levels.

Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency

Why do we need it?
Omega 3 fatty acids can come from plant and fish sources. EPA and DHA are the two most
essential omega 3 found in fatty fish. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in plant-based foods
such as nuts and seeds.salmon on plate

Your body needs these fatty acids to do things like balance triglyceride levels, improve joint stiffness and mental health, and recent research is even starting to show how beneficial EPA and DHA are for brain health and preventing cognitive decline.

Symptoms of low omega 3:
Irritated and/or dry skin, depression, dry eyes, joint pain, poor memory and dry/brittle hair.

Where to get omega 3 fatty acids:
For EPA and DHA, the best food source is fatty fish. Due to potentially high mercury content in
larger fish, aim for smaller fish sources such as sardines and anchovies more often than larger ones
fish such as salmon. Plant-based sources of ALA include chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.

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Iron deficiency

Why do we need it?
Iron is a mineral that contributes to the production of hemoglobin, which helps transport oxygen through our
red blood cells throughout our body, and is also involved in the production of certain hormones. A
iron deficiency in the body can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which can be quite serious for
overall well-being.

Symptoms of low iron:
Fatigue, weakness, low energy, decreased concentration and memory, pale skin, inability to
maintaining body temperature, hair loss, spoon-shaped nails, poor immunity and restless legs
syndrome.the best zinc sources and supplements

Where to get iron:
Animal-based sources (heme-based) are better absorbed than plant-based sources of iron
(non-domestic). Therefore, vegetarians should make sure to consume much more iron containing
food than carnivores. Some good sources of iron include liver, red meat, poultry, seafood,
kidney beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds and nuts. If blood levels show significantly low iron
level, iron supplementation may be necessary.

Magnesium deficiency

Why do we need it?
Magnesium is found in every cell in your body and is essential for bone health, conversion
of food into usable energy, formation of proteins in the body, repair of DNA and RNA,
muscle contraction and relaxation, and optimal nervous system function.

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Symptoms of low magnesium:
Muscle cramps, numbness or weakness, loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting. More seriously
Deficiencies can lead to convulsions, heart rhythm changes and a number of chronic diseases such as
such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Where to buy magnesium:
Foods rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, spinach, almonds, edamame,
salmon, halibut and avocado.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Why do we need it?
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, nerve function, production of DNA and cell metabolism. Our bodies cannot make it on their own, so it is crucial that we get it from food sources or supplements.

Symptoms of low B12:
Extreme fatigue and lack of energy, anemia, a pins and needles sensation, mouth ulcers,
impaired vision, mood changes and nerve damage.

Where to get vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 is mainly found in foods from animal sources such as organ meats, sardines,
beef, tuna, salmon and eggs. Therefore, fortified foods (cereals or nutritional yeast) or
dietary supplements are recommended for anyone at risk of B12 deficiency such as vegans or


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