Every nutrient plays an important role in our body. Macro nutrients are the nutrients that our body needs in more quantity as compared to micronutrients but this does not make micronutrients any less important. Lack of nutrients in the body due to inadequate intake over a period of time results in deficiencies. Our body shows various signs for various nutrient deficiencies. They can be rectified by food or nutritional supplements as advised by doctor or qualified nutritionist.
How the deficiencies affect our bodies is also differed by age. Let’s see some common nutrients and how the lack of them affects us.
1) Iron- Iron deficiency causes anemia, in which the number of your red blood cells and your blood’s ability to carry oxygen drops. It is very common and causes fatigue and decreases immunity.
Sources- Organ meat, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, bajra
2) Vitamin D- The most common deficiency after B12 would be vitamin D. Deficiency includes bone loss, weak muscles and also increases the risk of fractures.
Sources- Sunlight, cod liver oil, egg yolk
3) Vitamin B12- Most of the vegetarians and vegan are deficient in this nutrient. Symptoms can be from headaches, fatigue, lethargy to even brain fog.
Sources- Meat, eggs, milk products, organ meat
4) Iodine- It is essential for normal functioning of thyroid gland. In children it causes physical and mental retardation (cretinism). In adults the last stage causes goitre where the thyroid gland is enlarged.
Sources- Eggs, Dairy, fish, iodised salt
5) Calcium- From the early stage of life for growth & mineralisation of healthy teeth and bones to the maintenance of bones calcium is required. Calcium deficiency in later stages results in osteoporosis and in children leads to rickets (soft bones).
Sources- Ragi, milk and milk products, amaranth
6) Vitamin A- We have all been asked to eat carrots and green leafy vegetables since childhood as they are good for eyes. Vitamin A deficiency not only leads to eye damage but it is extremely important for healthy hair and skin.
Sources- Organ meats, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables
7) Magnesium- This mineral is not talked about but did you know magnesium is involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions in our body making it extremely important. Magnesium is essential for bone and teeth structure, low intake may worsen already existing conditions or diabetes, heart diseases, osteoporosis. Magnesium supplements are suggested to people who suffer from muscle cramps and fatigue. If you have sleep disturbances one of the deficiencies could be magnesium.
Sources- Nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate
8) Protein- The macronutrient that can cause a lot of problems if not sufficient. Protein deficiency leads to muscle loss (wasting). It leads to cravings, fatigue, hair-skin-nail issues, stunted growth in children, greater risks to fractures.
Sources- Eggs, milk and milk products, fish, lean meat
These are just some nutrients that we have mentioned but as talked about earlier each and every nutrient plays a vital role. The key is to include variety in your diet this way you will make sure to not skip any nutrient (especially micronutrient). Include all local and seasonal foods available to make sure you are not deprived of any nutrient.
About the author: Ms. Prachi Shah is Clinical Dietitian & Consulting Nutritionist, Founder, Health Habitat