Top 7 Nutrient Deficiencies

Here are some of the top nutrient deficiencies (extracellular and intracellular) that we see in our clinic. These nutrient deficiencies are root cause issues we have to treat in order to prevent and heal disease and restore cellular function.

Even if you eat a healthy diet and live a healthy lifestyle, today’s food is very depleted of nutrients due to standard processing and agricultural practices. The air, water, and soil are damaged. Unfortunately, it is very hard to actually get all the nutrients you need from food alone. And let’s face it, most of us have not lived healthy and have a lot of catching up to do, including ME!

This is why we always say, “supplements supplement the healthy lifestyle“. 

Symptoms of a general nutrient deficiency:

There are specific symptoms for each nutrient deficiency, however, there is also overlap in symptoms for the majority of nutrients. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness, aches, pain
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Irritability or other mood disturbances
  • Brain fog
  • Skin issues like dry skin or acne
  • Brittle hair or nails
  • Headaches

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important not to brush them off as a normal part of everyday life. In functional medicine, we are the detectives and we treat symptoms as the clues or evidence in a mystery to decipher what is going on in the body. Micronutrients play a role in every function of the body’s reactions and must always be addressed as a part of health.

How to know if you have a nutrient deficiency?

The best way to know if you have a micronutrient deficiency is with advanced micronutrient testing. The labs we use can reveal both serum and intracellular levels of nutrients, which paints a true picture of nutrient (and health) status. The goal is to use the data from the labs to create a personalized nutrition, supplement and lifestyle plan for each individual to optimize their nutrient and health status. 

Top 7 nutrient deficiencies we see in our clinic:

  1. Magnesium

    Magnesium is a major mineral involved in over 300 reactions. It is also the most common nutrient deficiency underlying most every cardiovascular condition including high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and cardiovascular disease.

    • Deficiency symptoms
      • Muscle cramps or restless leg syndrome
      • Fatigue and muscle weakness
      • Osteoporosis or brittle bones
      • Headaches and migraines
      • High blood pressure
      • Irregular heartbeat
      • Mood disorders
    • Deficiency causes

      Unfortunately, our food and soil are depleted of nutrients like magnesium these days. Also, processing of food leaches nutrients out. It is hard to get enough magnesium through diet alone and often supplementation (especially for cardiac conditions) is needed.

      Low magnesium levels are a very common health problem that affects most individuals. Daily magnesium intake should be (at a minimum) of 300-400 mg per day for most healthy individuals and most are not getting these intakes in. Individuals with cardiac conditions likely need a lot more.

  2. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that your body cannot produce and must be obtained in the diet. It plays many important roles in the body. B12 is critical for healthy blood cells and nerves. It is also responsible for lowering homocysteine, a key factor in heart health.

    • Deficiency symptoms
      • Brain fog
      • Fatigue and weakness
      • Pale skin
      • Numbness or tingling
      • Glossitis
      • Shortness of breath and dizziness
      • Anxiety or depression
      • High homocysteine levels
    • Deficiency causes

      Vitamin B12 deficiencies are fairly common, and we see them often in our clinic. They can present as symptoms in various ways, so often testing is needed to diagnose a true deficiency.

      B12 is abundant in animal foods so vegetarians/ vegans are at-risk populations. Furthermore, common causes of a B12 deficiency include low stomach acid, gut issues like leaky gut syndrome and SIBO or MTHFR mutations (of which about half the population has).

  3. Vitamin K2

    The importance of Vitamin K2 is still relatively unknown to most clinicians. Vitamin K has two forms. Vitamin K1 is the primary form from green, leafy vegetables and vitamin K2 arises from animal foods and fermented foods. K2 serves a diverse range of functions in the body besides blood clotting. It is especially important for heart health as K2 can help to reverse arterial calcification and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    • Deficiency symptoms
      • Blood clotting problems
      • Bruising or bleeding
      • Arterial calcification
      • Aortic stenosis
      • Atherosclerosis
      • Weak bones or osteoporosis
      • Anxiety and/or depression
      • Cancer
    • Deficiency causes

      In individuals with a healthy gut microbiome, the gut bacteria are able to convert K1 to K2. At-risk individuals, therefore, are those with gastrointestinal disorders like leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis and bile issues. Also, people who take long courses of antibiotics (which destroy host bacteria) are at risk. Lastly those on statins and blood thinners (like warfarin) are at risk for low K2 levels.

  4. Vitamin B1

    Vitamin B1, or thiamin, is an essential vitamin for producing cellular energy from the food you eat. B1 is used by almost every cell in the body. It is a very important vitamin for your heart, especially heart rate, as well. B1 has even been linked to improving cardiac function in those with congestive heart failure.

    • Deficiency symptoms
      • Fatigue
      • Poor appetite
      • Irritability, anxiety or mood disturbances
      • Tingling sensation in arms and legs
      • Blurry vision
      • Heart rate issues (usually low heart rate)
      • Shortness of breath
      • Heart failure
    • Deficiency causes

      While extreme vitamin B1 deficiencies are rare, more and more people are showing up with low levels of B1. There are various factors that can put people at a higher risk for low B1. These factors include alcohol dependency, advancing age, individuals with gastrointestinal disorders, immunocompromised individuals, diabetics, and those who use high-dose diuretics. Also, those with a high toxin burden are also at risk for depleted B1 levels in the body.

  5. Vitamin A

    Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin. It is needed for proper vision, a functioning immune system, regulation of cell division, and prevention of cancer. It also is needed in the body for its role as an antioxidant to quench oxidative stress and lower inflammation.  Vitamin A also plays a critical role in the development of the heart, lungs and kidneys in early childhood.

    • Deficiency symptoms
      • Poor wound healing
      • Acne, dry skin and other skin issues
      • Vision problems
      • Night blindness
      • Increased infections and illness
      • Inflammation
      • High oxidative stress
      • Delayed growth and poor development
    • Deficiency causes

      Vitamin A deficiency or low vitamin A levels can be caused by inadequate dietary intake of vitamin A, fat malabsorption issues, gastrointestinal disorders like leaky gut syndrome or liver disorders.

  6. Glutathione

    Glutathione is the master antioxidant of all our cells. It is a vital “nutrient” we test for in our patients. It is so important that the liver can synthesize it from three amino acids. It serves many important functions such as reducing free radicals, lowering inflammation, transporting toxins out of the body, boosting immunity, regenerating vitamin’s C/E, making DNA and keeping cells (like heart cells) fully functioning. In fact, research has shown that early deficiency of glutathione in heart cells results in advanced progression of cardiovascular disease and heart failure. A glutathione deficiency is found in nearly every chronically ill patient.

    • Deficiency symptoms
      • Increased oxidative stress/ inflammation
      • Poor detoxification
      • Mitochondrial dysfunction
      • Chronic disease (CVD, cancer, autoimmune disease, etc.)
      • Liver disease
      • Kidney problems
      • Asthma
      • Rapid aging
      • Fatigue
      • Brain fog
    • Deficiency causes

      A glutathione deficiency can result from a multitude of causes such as toxins, air pollution, poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, chronic stress, medications and aging. Whenever the body has excess oxidative stress or inflammation (from such factors mentioned above), glutathione is the first to get depleted. This depletion of glutathione causes cellular dysfunction and disease.

  7. Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is another nutrient that we see depleted in almost every initial test we do on patients. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for our health and wellness. This is why Dr. Wolfson literally prescribes sunshine to every one of our patients. Vitamin D is critical for regulating mineral balance, promoting healthy bones and teeth, regulating insulin levels, supporting cardiovascular function and preventing chronic disease like cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

    • Deficiency symptoms
      • High blood pressure
      • Abnormal lipids
      • Cardiovascular disease or cancer
      • Autoimmune disorders
      • Poor immune function
      • Hormonal imbalances
      • Low bone density
      • Muscle weakness or muscle cramps
      • Mood disturbances such as anxiety or depression
      • Fatigue
    • Deficiency causes

      Vitamin D is unique in that it is not naturally present in many foods. Therefore, the best way to get vitamin D is via sun. Groups at risk for a vitamin D deficiency are those that do not get enough sunlight (factors that influence sunlight production of vitamin D include time of day, season and where you live), skin color (darker skin pigment requires more sun exposure), age (elderly are far less efficient at converting sunlight to vitamin D) or liver or kidney issues (where conversion to active D3 takes place). For those that can’t get enough quality sun, supplementation is warranted.

Final recommendations regarding nutrient deficiencies:

Today, many individuals suffer from nutrient deficiencies. Nutrients play crucial roles in health and prevention of disease. If nutrient levels are suboptimal, disease always results.

We recommend knowing your INTRACELLULAR levels of nutrients. This type of testing includes an analysis of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other metabolites. Conventional nutrient testing is outdated. Typically, it tests for serum levels of nutrients. In functional medicine we are more concerned with if nutrients are actually getting into cells, where they belong and function.

Always test, don’t guess. Know your nutrient numbers. Your health depends upon it.

You can check out our advanced intracellular micronutrient test here. It comes with a free review by a Wolfson health coach who can help to guide you in creating the ideal, customized protocol for your health.

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