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Nutrient Deficiencies - why?

What our health looks like depends on our nutritional status. Nutrients come from our environment - minerals are in our soils, which feed our plants, that animals eat. When we eat plants and meat we are absorbing those nutrients. The nutrients enter our body cells and can be stored, activated or change the pH. From here nutrients can do two things:

  • Perform a function (a positive outcome)

  • Display a symptom (a negative outcome) which is the body crying out for attention.

Nutrient deficiencies can occur for several reasons as discussed below.


Picture showing a man with a drained battery life and caption reading 'Not enough of these' pointing to fruits and vegetables
Nutrient Deficiencies can occur when we don't eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Reasons Nutrient Deficiencies may occur


What do our symptoms mean? Symptoms can be generated based on the body crying out for attention from nutrient deficiencies for the following reasons:


1. There is a lack of the nutrient (malabsorption) - the nutrient has to get from our gut to our blood stream.

There may be:

  • Low levels from food choices

  • Low levels from soils

  • Reduced time for absorption if you have loose stools from fast bowel movements

  • There may be a reduced villi surface area in small intestine to absorb nutrients. In Coeliac Disease, for example.

  • You may have reduced levels of Hydrochloric Acid and/or Digestive Enzymes to begin the breakdown of our food

  • You may have an imbalance of microbiome

  • Medications may be interacting

2. There may be poor tissue uptake - the nutrient has to get from the bloodstream to our tissue cells

  • There may be blockages across the cell membrane. Symptoms will show up highlighting this. For example:

    • If glucose can't get into our cells (due to Insulin Resistance), we will ultimately see Diabetes developing.

    • If magnesium can't get into our muscle cells, we will see muscle cramps.

    • Mercury (from dental amalgams) can be a big blocker here of nutrients.

3. There may be enhanced loss of the nutrient where the tissue is bypassed

  • Trace elements get absorbed from the small intestine and head to the liver via the portal vein. If bile excretion is intense, they may get excreted straight out of the body from fast bowel motions.

4. Nutrients may get blocked

  • For example, you may have adequate levels of iron, yet if you have heavy metals present, or parasites, the iron may be blocked or sequestered so you may appear iron deficient.


Shows two hands. One with fresh, nutritious foods getting the thumbs up while sugary, processed foods get the thumbs down.
Fresh nutritious foods get the thumbs up for nutrients, while processed foods get the thumbs down.

Common Nutrient Deficiencies described


1. Iron deficiency

Needed for haemoglobin (Hb) inside our Red Blood Cells (RBC) to transport oxygen around our body. Do you feel tired and lethargic?

A person with symptoms of extreme fatigue, chest pain and weakness as signs of Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency can result in anaemia

2. Iodine deficiency

Needed for our thyroid gland to work optimally. Are you tired, feel like your metabolism doesn't work efficiently?

Symptoms of constipation, puffy face, weight gain, depression as symptoms of Iodine deficiency
Iodine Deficiency can result in Hypothyroidism

3. Vitamin D deficiency

Is produced from cholesterol and acts as a hormone regulating so many processes in our body. Signs are not always obvious, but weakness and tiredness are signs.

Bone pain and general weakness are symptoms of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency can result in Rickets and Osteoporosis

4. Vitamin B12 deficiency

Often our brain doesn't function as it normally does when we are deficient, as it may cause megaloblastic, macrocytic anaemia. Importantly our Homocysteine may rise, which may predispose to cardiovascular issues.

Circle of symptoms like weight loss, fatigue, headaches, memory issues band more as signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in poor memory and mood issues


5. Calcium deficiency

The cause is hotly debated, and it is best to obtain calcium from food sources. Rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults can occur.

Symptoms of anxiety, confusion, brittle nails and poor memory are signs of Calcium Deficiency
Calcium deficiency can result in Hypocalcemia

6. Vitamin A deficiency

Immunity issues and eyesight can be affected, especially night vision.

Symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency shown as dry and inflamed eyes, hazy cornea, and dry, scaly skin
Vitamin A deficiency can result in Night Blindness

7. Magnesium deficiency

Many, many, many issues with Magnesium deficiency!! Magnesium deficiency is linked to other deficiencies. A very important mineral to stay on top of! For me personally, I think a lot of health issues can be corrected with magnesium.

Symptoms of Magnesium deficiency may be vomiting, nausea, numbness, seizures, and tingling sensations
Magnesium Deficiency is known as Hypomagnesaemia

8. Zinc Deficiency

No taste, or smell, or hunger, feeling sluggish, burping, farting, moody, depressed, acne, and the list goes on. The competition between zinc, iron and copper is intricate.

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency like acne, anxiety, hormonal disturbances, slow healing and more
Zinc deficiency signs are many and varied

9. Vitamin C Deficiency

Bleeding gums, wounds are slow to heal, with smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers most at risk.

Bleeding gums, fatigue, rashes are all signs of Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency can result ultimately in scurvy

10. Vitamin B Complex Deficiency

  • Vitamin B1 deficiency (Thiamin) can cause Beriberi

  • Vitamin B2 deficiency (Riboflavin) can impact iron absorption and Vitamin B6 conversion to its active format

  • Vitamin B3 deficiency (Niacin) can cause Pellagra

  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) can result in burning feet syndrome

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) can result in amino acid metabolism being affected

  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin) skin rashes, brittle nails and thinning hair may occur

  • Vitamin B9 (Folate) can cause megaloblastic, macrocytic anaemia (like Vitamin B12 deficiency)

Obtaining sufficient nutrients is so important for optimal health. A lot of deficiencies will result in similar symptoms and tiredness, weakness and other general symptoms which can be hard to pinpoint. See additional blogs on my website for further detailed information on deficiencies.


If you would like to discuss your personal circumstances, or have your nutrient status from your pathology results reviewed in line with your current situation, feel free to make a booking with me on the bookings tab on my website.



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References:

  • Hidden J & Drake V, (2012), An Evidence-based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals, 2nd Ed, Thieme

  • DrTisDigital, (2015),Visual Textbook of Nutritional Medicine

  • Common Nutrient Deficiencies


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