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5 Common Nutrient Deficiencies in Adults You Shouldn’t Simply Shrug Off

September 15, 2023

Are you feeling tired, sluggish, or even experiencing unusual symptoms? It’s time to investigate what your body might be missing! Nutrient deficiencies are more common than you might think, and failing to address them can have serious consequences for your overall health, especially when you are at a certain age.

In this blog, we’ll dive into five nutrients that are commonly deficient in adults and their sneaky symptoms.


1. Calcium


Bone mass deteriorates after about age 50 in men and after menopause for women, putting them at higher risk for osteoporosis, rickets, and osteopenia. Symptoms such as extreme fatigue, dry skin, tooth decay, and depression may also arise from low calcium levels. Additionally, research shows low calcium intake is associated with an increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Aim to consume calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, leafy greens, and seafoods to ensure you’re getting enough calcium. Supplements may also be necessary for individuals who cannot meet their daily requirements through diet alone. Take note, however, that excess calcium intake through supplements may also have negative health consequences, so always consult first with your physician.


2. Protein


Evidence reveals about 1 in 7 males and 1 in 25 females aged 71 years and older do not meet their daily requirements for protein in Australia. Deficiency may manifest as muscle loss, fatigue, weak immune system, and slow wound healing. Further, low protein intake can impair cognitive function, making it a more important macronutrient as we age.

Include more protein sources into your meals such as eggs, fish, greek yoghurt and plant-based alternatives like tofu and tempeh to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of protein daily. Supplementing with protein powders may also be an option for individuals with dietary restrictions or increased protein needs.


3. Iron


A survey shows that the prevalence of iron deficiency in Australia is the highest among females aged 14-50. Not surprisingly, these groups also have the highest requirement for iron intake. Symptoms of iron deficiency can range from fatigue, weakness, and difficulty concentrating to pale skin and brittle nails. It can also lead to a condition called iron-deficiency anemia, with symptoms including shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and decreased immunity.

Liver, poultry, seafood, beans, lentils, and spinach are excellent sources of iron. It’s worth noting that the body absorbs iron from animal sources more efficiently than from plant-based sources, but incorporating vitamin C-rich foods with plant-based iron sources can enhance absorption.


4. Folate


Approximately 9% of females aged 19 and over do not meet their folate or vitamin B9 requirement based on their food intake. Pregnant women, in particular, need adequate folate intake to support proper fetal development and prevent neural tube defects. Additionally, folate deficiency can result in megaloblastic anemia, which causes weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Leafy greens, beans, lentils, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals are all fantastic ways to boost your folate intake. But here’s the catch: cooking can affect the folate content in these foods. To get the most out of these nutrient powerhouses, try enjoying them raw or lightly cooked.


5. Thiamin


Thiamin, or vitamin B1, is a crucial nutrient that plays a key role in energy metabolism and proper nervous system function. Interestingly, researchers found that 7% of males and 16% of females in Australia had inadequate thiamine intakes.

Lack of thiamine can lead to various health problems, including beriberi, a condition resulting in weakness, muscle wasting, and cardiovascular issues. Additionally, thiamine deficiency can cause Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, characterized by confusion, memory loss, and difficulty with coordination.

To prevent thiamine deficiency, incorporate more thiamine-rich foods, such as pork, fish, seeds, and brown rice, into your diet.

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