When it comes to calories, we’re very particular of what we eat. But sadly, what many people fail to understand is that the nutrient content of a particular food (and not just fats and calories) is more important for optimal health.
Talking about nutrients, we all know that they play a vital role in overall health and well-being. But though we can obtain essential nutrients from a balanced, real food-based diet, the typical modern diet is devoid of them.
In this article, we talk about three such nutrient deficiencies and the possible foods you can consume to beat them.
1) Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is a mineral that is essential for the production of the thyroid hormones and normal thyroid functioning. Thyroid hormones play a vital role in many processes in the body such as brain development, growth, and bone maintenance. They also control the metabolism.
Iodine deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies globally and affects about one-third of the world’s population.[2,3,4] A common symptom of iodine deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, also called as a goiter. It can cause an increase in heart rate, weight gain and shortness of breath. Severe iodine deficiency can lead to mental retardation and developmental abnormalities.
Good Dietary Sources Of Iodine
- Dairy: A cup of plain yogurt provides about 50 percent of the RDI (recommended daily intake).
- Whole Eggs: One large egg provides 16 percent of the RDI.
- Seaweed: 1 g of kelp contains 460–1000 percent of the RDI.
- Fish: 3 ounces (85 g) of baked cod provide 66 percent of the RDI.
2) Iron Deficiency
Iron forms the main component of red blood cells and binds with hemoglobin to transport oxygen to other cells. The two types of dietary iron are
Non-Heme Iron: This form of iron is found in both plant and animal foods. But it isn’t absorbed as easily as heme iron.
Heme Iron: This form of iron is very well absorbed and is only found in animal foods, particularly in red meat.
Affecting more than 25 percent worldwide, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies.[5,6] About 47 percent of preschool children could have iron deficiency. Thirty percent of menstruating women can have iron deficiency due to blood loss.
Vegans and vegetarians are at an increased risk of deficiency as they consume only non-heme iron, which isn’t as well absorbed as much as heme iron.[7,8]
Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. This results in the reduction in the number of red blood cells and decreases the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen throughout the body. People with an iron deficiency may feel weak, tired, have decreased immunity and an impaired brain function.[9,10]
Good Dietary Sources Of Iodine
- Shellfish such as mussels, clams, and oysters: 3 ounces (85g) of cooked oysters provide roughly 50 percent of the RDI.
- Canned sardines: A 3.75 ounce can (106g) provides 34 percent of the RDI.
- Red meat: 3 ounces (85g) of ground beef contains about 30 percent of the RDI.
- Organ meat: One slice of a liver (81g) contains more than 50 percent of the RDI.
3) Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions like a steroid hormone in the body. It circulates through the bloodstream and into cells, instructing them to turn genes on or off. Almost every cell in the body has vitamin D receptors.
Vitamin D is made out of cholesterol in the skin following exposure to sunlight. People who live away from the equator are likely to be deficient since they have less sun exposure.[11,12]
About 42 percent of people in the US may be vitamin D deficient. Of this, about 74 percent in the elderly and 82 percent in people with dark skin are deficient, since their skin produces less vitamin D on exposure to sunlight.[13,14]
The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are subtle and can develop over years or even decades.[15,16] Adults deficient in vitamin D may experience bone loss, muscle weakness, and increased risk of fractures. In children, it can cause soft bones (rickets) and growth delays.[15,17,18]
Good Dietary Sources Of Vitamin D
- Egg Yolks: A large egg yolk contains 7 percent of the RDI.
- Cod Liver Oil: A tablespoon contains 227 percent of the RDI.
- Fatty fish, such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, or trout: A small, 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon (85g) contains 75 percent of the RDI.
People who have a severe deficiency of vitamin D may want to take a supplement or increase their sun exposure. It is difficult to get sufficient amounts through diet alone.
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