The human body and all its systems are one of the most complex, amazing creations I’ve ever seen. Think about it. We owe a lot to God, our Creator for his brilliant and unique design of the human body.
I’m so committed to making sure that people take great care of themselves which is why I’ve chosen to be a doctor, leading others to elevate their health and their performance. One of the most foundational principles of healthy living is to make sure that you never (or at least very rarely) have micronutrient deficiencies.
In this article, I will be talking about micronutrients and why they are important for your body and the negative effects of micronutrient deficiencies.
At the very start of building our consulting business, Erica and I made micronutrient testing a foundational part of our packages because of the power of these tests, what they can tell us and how much better people function when their micronutrients are in balance.
What Are Micronutrients?
Most people think healthy lifestyle consists mostly of eating good proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits and healthy fats. And this is a big part of high performance living.
But micronutrients are just as important because when you have micronutrient deficiencies it can contribute to health challenges, like brain fog, fatigue, hormone imbalance, heart disease and the list goes on.
Micronutrient minerals include iodine, calcium, vitamins, iron, zinc, etc. They are responsible for supporting the healthy function of your body right from the growth of bones to the functioning of the brain.
Why Eating Healthy Foods is Not Enough
It’s easy to think that you can can easily fend off micronutrient deficiencies by having real, wholesome foods or what many people call a “balanced diet.” The trouble is a typical modern-day diet lacks many of these essential micronutrients (and macronutrients for that matter).
Even when you consider someone that eats really clean (like me and my family), we’re still not able to get all of our nutrients from food sources. This is due to a few different reasons:
1. Nutrient Depletion of Soil – The soil that grows the fruits and vegetables that we eat is not as nutrient rich as it once was. A lot of this is due to over farming the soil, not allowing it to rest which doesn’t give minerals enough time to replenish.
2. Produce is Picked Too Early – Due to our modern day technologies we can eat almost any fruit or vegetable any time of the year whether it’s in season or out of season. I’ve seen berries shipped in from Argentina in my grocery store. These produce items are typically picked before they have the chance to fully ripen which can decrease the level of antioxidants and nutrient density. This is just one of the reasons why it’s better to buy local produce. It’s more green and it can offer more nutritious foods.
3. The Use of Pesticides – The widespread use of chemicals in our food contributes to micronutrient deficiencies as well. These chemicals can disrupt the body’s ecology at the cellular level.
And what’s even more concerning is that some (widely used) pesticides are carcinogenic and can cause damage to the body’s organs and tissues. This is why it’s better (and more eco-friendly) to buy organic whenever possible.
These are just a few of the reasons why it’s actually pretty common to have micronutrient deficiencies. Even though it’s a common thing, it’s not normal and it can really hinder your ability to function at the level of a high performer.
Types of Micronutrient Deficiencies, Causes and Remedies
Deficiency of Iodine
Iodine is a necessary mineral for supporting thyroid functions and the creation of thyroid hormones. These hormones can support brain development, maintenance of the bones and the overall growth of the body.
Lack of iodine is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies today and it’s affecting nearly 1/3 of the world’s population. This particularly problematic for women who can experience thyroid and hormone dysfunction as a results of these deficiencies.
Iodine deficiency can also cause goiter (a condition that causes enlarged thyroid gland), breathing difficulties, increases in heart rate and weight gain. In the case of severe micronutrient deficiencies, there may be adverse effects like mental retardation and other abnormalities among children.
This is just one reason why it’s so critical for children to have appropriate micronutrients. It’s very important for their brain function and development.
Here are dietary sources that are rich in iodine:
- 1 egg contains 16% RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake) of iodine
- 1 cup of regular yogurt contains 50% RDI of iodine.
- 3 ounces or 85 grams of low mercury fish contains 66% RDI of iodine.
- 1 gram of kelp seaweed contains 460 to 1000% RDI of iodine.
Note: The quantity of iodine may vary vastly. The above facts are to help you understand which of the foods are rich sources of iodine.
Iodine is mostly present in the sea and the soil. However, if the soil where you are growing the food is iodine-poor, it may have a low quantity of iodine.
For extra support, I often recommend this supplement to the high performers that I work with.
Deficiency of Iron
Iron micronutrient deficiencies are also very common – but again, this is not normal. Lack of iron causes a condition called anemia.
Iron is critical in cell structure and this micronutrient is the primary reason for the formulation of hemoglobin (red blood cells). Iron also contains proteins that support muscle tissues and it helps in the functioning of the central nervous system.
These foods are rich in iron and including them in your diet is the best way to fight micronutrient deficiencies in iron:
- Fish, meat and poultry
- Leafy vegetables
- Legumes like beans and lentils
- Seeds of sesame and pumpkin
Deficiency of magnesium
Like calcium, magnesium is essential for supporting the bones and the teeth. It can also stimulate the reactions of more than 300 enzymes in your body.
About half of the US population is reported to be consuming lesser than the recommended intake of magnesium, from the year 2005 to 2006.
Deficiency of magnesium can cause certain types of heart diseases, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. The causes of magnesium deficiency can be because of drug use, a side effect of disease or even improper digestive function.
Foods that are rich sources of magnesium include
- Nuts – twenty almonds contain 17% RDI of magnesium
- Whole grains – 1 cup of oats has 74% RDI of magnesium
- Dark chocolates – 30 grams contains 15% RDI of magnesium
- Green, leafy vegetables like raw spinach has 6% of RDI of magnesium
Vitamin B12 is extremely important for blood flow and nerve function. It also supports cognitive function of the brain. Each cell in the human body requires B12 vitamin but your body cannot produce this vitamin naturally. It is usually obtained from foods and supplements.
A common symptom of this deficiency is blood disorder, also known as megaloblastic anemia that causes red blood cells enlargement.
Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is only available in animal products, therefore, vegans and vegetarians are at high risks of developing micronutrient deficiencies. Vitamin B12 deficiency is also very common among elderly people.
The most common Vitamin B12 dietary sources include:
- Organ meat – one slice (that is 2 ounces or 60 grams) of liver produces 1000% RDI of vitamin B12.
- Oysters – 3 ounces or 85 grams of cooked oysters have 1400% RDI of vitamin B12.
- Eggs – an egg contains about 6% RDI of vitamin B12
A fat-soluble nutrient by nature, Vitamin D plays the role of a steroid hormone for every cell in the body. It floats via the bloodstream and to the cells and instructs them to activate or deactivate the genes.
Sunlight can produce the Vitamin D required for your body, as this nutrient is released when your skin is exposed to the sun. Even though Vitamin D can be freely obtained from the sun, many people in North America are Vitamin D deficient, because we don’t have enough exposure to sunlight.
Most people are working in an office throughout the day with little to no sun exposure. This contributes to Vitamin D deficiencies.
42% of people in the US may have vitamin D deficiency. Another strange observation health scientists have made is that dark-skinned people are more prone to Vitamin D deficiencies as their skin absorbs less vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, as compared to people with lighter skin.
Deficiency of vitamin D can increase cancer risk, decrease immune system function, and cause weakness in muscles and bone loss.
One of the best things you can do is get outside for 20 minutes or so each day to increase your level of Vitamin D. Here are some great food sources as well.
Here are some that are known to boost vitamin D in your body.
- Cod liver oil – one tbsp. of cod liver oil has 227% RDI of vitamin D
- Egg yolks – one egg yolk has 7% RDI of vitamin D
- Salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are good sources of vitamin D. Three ounces of cooked salmon contain 75% RDI of vitamin D.
There are so many other micronutrient deficiencies we know of but the ones mentioned here are some of the most common. If you’re a high performer, you really can’t afford to have deficiencies in any of these areas. You’ll be off your “A-game” and the way you feel and function will suffer because of it.
If you want to get a baseline test of your micronutrient levels and uncover blind spots to your health and performance, then click here to apply for an initial consultation.