Top 10 Nutrients You May Be Lacking - And How the Deficiency Could Be Making You Ill

For those who don't have time to grab a lunch or just formed a habit of skipping meals, how does lack of variation in your diet affect your health?

Do you feel tired? Drained? Experiencing muscle soreness?

A registered nutritionist Rob Hobson investigates and reveals what many of us may be lacking.

According to him, when we talk about how the food affects our health, the priority tends to focus on weight. This often includes limiting the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat in our foods.

Research findings from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey have shown that most of us manage to achieve the recommended daily intakes of micronutrients. But even those with less than perfect diets can still meet these guidelines, especially as many of the foods we eat are fortified either by law or commercial means.

Diagnosed nutrient deficiencies are relatively common and these more likely to occur in groups with clinical problems that affects absorption of nutrients, eating disorders, alcohol abuse or those who choose to cut out many foods such as vegans with poorly planned diets or those embarking on exclusion diets such as gluten or dairy-free diet.

Here are ten of the important nutrients that you may be lacking in your diet.


Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and helps to maintain muscle and nerve function, healthy bones and a healthy heartbeat.

It also helps regulate blood sugar and is involved in converting food into energy within the body.

True deficiency is rare but very low intakes may lead to sleeplessness, anxiety, tiredness and fatigue or muscle weakness.

Examples of foods that contain magnesium are:

  • dark green vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • beans (cannellini and edamame) and lentils
  • wholegrains (brown rice)
  • oily fish (e.g. mackerel)


Calcium is essential for healthy strong bones and teeth. A small amount circulates the bloodstream and is required for muscle contraction including that of the heart.

The current trend for cutting out food groups can impact on calcium intake as people explore vegan diets and decide to go dairy-free.

Examples of foods that contain calcium are:
  • all dairy food including cheese, milk and yogurt
  • dark green vegetables (kale, watercress, broccoli)
  • tofu
  • nuts (almonds)
  • canned fish such as salmon


Potassium helps to maintain body fluid levels as well as regulate blood pressure and heart function.

Increasing your potassium intake through the diet can also help to reduce high blood pressure.

Simply adding more vegetables to your diet is the easiest way to boost your intake of potassium.

Examples of foods that contain potassium are:
  • vegetables (Swiss chard, spinach, avocado and squash)
  • bananas
  • dried fruit (apricots)
  • oily fish (salmon)
  • beans (adzuki and cannellini)
Avocados contain more potassium than bananas with an average fruit providing 975mg (about 25% of the recommended daily intake).


Iodine is essential for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland and is involved in the production of thyroxine, which is a hormone that helps your metabolic rate healthy.

Low iodine during pregnancy can impact on your baby's health, which is a particular concern amongst teenage girls.

Examples of foods that contain iodine are:
  • seaweed
  • cod
  • prawn
  • poultry
  • canned tuna
Dried seaweed is very high in iodine and is used to make sushi and can be added to miso soup and salads.


Omega 3 fatty acids are essential and can help to maintain healthy cell membranes including those of the skin, and may be benefit to the heart by increasing the amount of HDL good cholesterol and reducing inflammation.

The recommended intake is 450mg per day, which you can get by eating a serving each of oily and white fish each week.

Omega 3 can be gleaned from some plant foods but these are poorly processed by the body.

If you don't eat oily fish, then you may want to consider a supplement such as Healthspan Omega 3.

Example of foods that contain omega 3 are:
  • fresh mackerel
  • fresh and smoked salmon
  • canned anchovy, sardines and salmon
  • flaxseed oil
  • walnuts


Fiber in the diet help to maintain a healthy gut and aid good digestion. It has also been shown to help control blood glucose and cholesterol levels as well as reducing the risk of health disease, diabetes and bowel cancer.

Fiber also helps to bulk out the diet and maintain fullness, which may help with weight loss.

Example of foods that contain fiber are:
  • beans and pulses
  • lentils
  • wholegrains (brown rice, barley and oats)
  • all fruits and vegetables
  • nuts and seeds


Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that also helps fight free radical damage in the body caused by a poor diet and environmental factors.

This mineral also plays a key role in the normal functioning of the immune and reproductive system as well as thyroid health.

The amount of selenium in foods if heavily reliant on the soil which plants are grown.

Example of foods that contain selenium are:
  • Brazil nuts
  • seafood (tuna, halibut and sardines)
  • meat, poultry and offal (especially liver)
  • seeds
  • mushrooms


Folate is a B vitamin that works with B12 to maintain healthy red blood cell production and is also required to maintain a healthy immune system.

This vitamin is also critical for women during the first three months of pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects.

Folate may also help to reduce the risk of stroke in people with above normal levels of the amino acid, homocysteine.

Example of foods that contain folate are:
  • beans and legumes (chickpeas, pinto beans)
  • lentils
  • dark green vegetables (spinach, kale and chard)
  • liver
  • avocado


Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and helps to regulate the amount of this mineral and phosphate in the body, which is important for bone growth and repair.

It has also been associated with maintaining a healthy immune system and respiratory health.

Vitamin D exists in very few foods and is mostly synthesized from sunlight.

Example of foods containing vitamin D are:
  • oily fish (mackerel, salmon and tuna)
  • eggs
  • milk
  • mushrooms
  • fortified foods such as breakfast cereals


Iron is essential for the production of healthy red blood cells as well as growth, normal cell function, energy metabolism and the synthesis of certain hormones and tissues.

Example of foods containing iron are:
  • red meat and liver
  • mussels
  • dark green leafy vegetables (kale, chard)
  • eggs
  • dried fruit (figs, apricots)

Source: Daily Mail

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