Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies

Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies

We are more susceptible to nutritional shortages due to our regular diets, lifestyles, and environments, and some nutrients are necessary for our bodies to function properly and for optimal health.

A balanced diet can provide the majority of them, but a typical metropolitan diet does not. Here is a summary of some of the most prevalent nutritional deficiencies and how to spot them in your body:


A crucial mineral, iron is a significant part of red blood cells, where it joins with hemoglobin to carry oxygen to your cells. With more than 25% of individuals globally suffering from it, it is one of the most widespread vitamin deficiencies in existence. The two types of dietary iron are:

(a) Heme iron:- This type of iron is very well absorbed. It’s only found in animal foods, with red meat containing particularly high amounts.
(b) Non-heme iron:- This type, found in both animal and plant foods, is more common. It is not absorbed as easily as heme iron.

    According to the WHO, iron insufficiency affects more than 25% of individuals worldwide and is one of the most prevalent nutrient deficits. The percentage increases to 47% for preschoolers. They are prone to lack iron unless they are given foods that are iron-rich or iron-fortified. Due to monthly blood loss, approximately 30% of menstruation women and up to 42% of young, pregnant women may also be deficient.

    Also, since they only ingest non-heme iron, which is not as effectively absorbed as heme iron, vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of iron insufficiency. Anemia, in which your blood's capacity to carry oxygen decreases and your quantity of red blood cells falls, is the most frequent effect of iron deficiency. Tiredness, weakness, a compromised immune system, and diminished mental function are typical symptoms.

    The best dietary sources of heme iron include:

    • Red meat. 
    • Shellfish. 
    • Canned sardines.

    The best dietary sources of non-heme iron include:

    • Beans. 
    • Seeds. Pumpkin, sesame, and squash seeds are good sources of non-heme iron.
    • Dark, leafy greens. Broccoli, kale, and spinach are rich in iron.

    However, you should never supplement with iron unless you truly need it, it can be very harmful.

    Notably, vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron. Eating vitamin-C-rich foods like oranges, kale, and bell peppers alongside iron-rich foods can help maximize your iron absorption.

    2. IODINE

    Iodine is a mineral that is necessary for healthy thyroid function and thyroid hormone synthesis. Many body functions, including growth, brain development, and bone health, are influenced by thyroid hormones. They control how quickly your metabolism moves.

    One of the most prevalent nutrient deficiencies, iodine insufficiency affects around one-third of the global population.

    The most typical sign of iodine deficiency is a goitre, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Moreover, it could lead to a rise in heart rate, breathlessness, and weight gain.

    Serious injury is associated with severe iodine shortage, particularly in youngsters. Developmental problems and mental impairment could result.

    Good dietary sources of iodine include: 

    • Dairy
    • Eggs
    • Fish

    These sums, however, can differ significantly. Iodine is mostly found in soil and ocean water, hence food produced on iodine-poor soil will be deficient in iodine.

    Iodine enrichment of table salt is required in some nations, which has successfully decreased the prevalence of deficits. One of the most prevalent nutrient deficiencies in the world is iodine deficiency. It might result in thyroid gland hypertrophy. Children who suffer from severe iodine shortage may experience mental impairment and developmental problems.

    3. VITAMIN D

    Vitamin D insufficiency typically has modest symptoms that take years or decades to manifest. People with vitamin D deficiencies may experience weakened muscles, thinning bones, and a higher risk of fractures. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency may contribute to impaired immune function and a higher risk of cancer in addition to growth delays and rickets in children.

    While very few foods contain significant amounts of this vitamin, the best dietary sources are:

    • Cod liver oil. 
    • Fatty fish. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are rich in vitamin D. 
    • Egg yolks.

    If they are deficient, people may want to take a supplement or spend more time in the sun. It is challenging to obtain enough by diet alone.

    4. VITAMIN B12

    Cobalamin, another name for vitamin B12, is a water-soluble vitamin. Blood clotting as well as nerve and brain function depend on it. B12 is required for every cell in your body to function effectively, but your body cannot make it on its own. You must thus obtain it from food or supplements.

    Only animal foods have significant levels of B12, while some varieties of seaweed may also contain tiny amounts. As a result, those who avoid animal products run a higher risk of insufficiency. According to studies, between 80 and 90 percent of vegetarians and vegans may not get enough vitamin B12.

    Since this vitamin's ability to be absorbed decreases with age, more than 20% of older persons may also be vitamin D deficient.

    Megaloblastic anaemia, a blood condition that causes your red blood cells to expand, is one typical sign of vitamin B12 insufficiency. Impaired brain function and high homocysteine levels, a risk factor for many diseases, are other symptoms.

    Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:

    • Shellfish. 
    • Organ meat. 
    • Meat.
    • Eggs.
    • Milk products.

    Vitamin B12 isn’t considered harmful in large amounts because it’s often poorly absorbed and easily excreted.


    Each and every cell in your body needs calcium to function. Bones and teeth are mineralized by it, especially during periods of rapid growth. It is crucial for maintaining healthy bones as well. Calcium also functions as a signaling molecule.

    Your heart, muscles, and nerves could not work without it. Your blood's calcium levels are closely monitored, and any excess is deposited in your bones. Your bones will release calcium if your intake is insufficient.

    Because of this, osteoporosis, which is marked by softer and more fragile bones, is the most typical sign of calcium shortage.

    Even while taking supplements significantly improved these figures, the majority of people were still not obtaining enough calcium.

    Symptoms of more severe dietary calcium deficiency include soft bones (rickets) in children and osteoporosis, especially in older adults.

    Dietary sources of calcium include :

    • Boned fish.
    • Dairy products.
    • Dark green vegetables. Kale, spinach, bok choy, and broccoli are rich in calcium.

    Although it's preferable to receive calcium through food rather than supplements, those who don't get enough in their diet tend to benefit from supplements only.

    6. VITAMIN A

    Vitamin A is a necessary fat-soluble vitamin. It supports the development and upkeep of cell membranes, teeth, and good skin. Moreover, it creates eye pigments, which are essential for vision.

    There are two different types of dietary vitamin A:

    (a) Performed Vitamin A:- This type of vitamin A is found in animal products like meat, fish, poultry, and dairy
    (b) Pro-vitamin A:- This type is found in plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A, is the most common form.

      A shortage in vitamin A is not a concern for more than 75% of persons who consume a Western diet. Yet, many impoverished nations have a high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency. In some areas, between 44% and 50% of preschoolers are vitamin A deficient. About 30% of Indian women fall into this category.

      A lack of vitamin A can harm your eyes permanently or temporarily, and it can even make you blind. In actuality, this deficit is the primary contributor of blindness globally.

      A lack of vitamin A can also impair immunity and raise mortality, particularly in youngsters and those who are pregnant or nursing.

      Dietary sources of preformed vitamin A include:

      • Organ meat.
      • Fish liver oil.

      Dietary sources of beta carotene (pro-vitamin A) include:

      • Sweet potatoes.
      • Carrots.
      • Dark green, leafy vegetables.

      While getting enough of this vitamin is crucial, taking too much preformed vitamin A can be hazardous. Pro-vitamin A, such as beta carotene, is exempt from this. Your skin may turn a little orange from excessive consumption, but this is not harmful.


      It is possible to have vitamin deficiencies for practically all of them. Yet, the aforementioned flaws are overwhelmingly the most prevalent. Toddlers, teenagers, elderly people, vegetarians, and vegans appear to be more at risk for a number of deficiencies.

      Eating a balanced diet that includes full, nutrient-dense foods is the greatest method to prevent deficiencies. But, people who can't get enough from diet alone may need supplements.


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