In a world where the focus on our health has dramatically shifted towards it, it’s hard to comprehend why we’re still not getting the vitamins and minerals that our body needs. Partly, we are not to blame; a change in how we grow our food, from the vegetables to the animals, has meant that some of the essentials are lost without us totally realizing it. Our need to eat foods which have been processed and our desire not to wait for meals (hello, drive thru!) has also lead towards a deficit.
So what are we actually missing out on - and how can we go about reversing this?
This inorganic mineral is responsible for a lot happening within your body. It helps conduct the structure of all of your bones, as well as being required for the synthesis of DNA. It can be found in green, leafy vegetables and legumes, so if you’re adding these to your diet then you should be getting your RDA in abundance. Some cereal brands have also started adding it to their product to ensure that you’re getting a healthy dose in the morning.
Once upon a time, when organic farmers were the norm and you would rely on your pet cow for both dairy products and the manure to spread on your crops, sulfur was a regular part of our diet. Nowadays, with the introduction of fast farming and a whole load of change to where our food is coming from, we aren’t getting as much as we need. Sulfur helps with disease resistance, increasing enzyme production within your body to fight off any unwanted illnesses. You can buy sulfur crystals to help your body get back right, or start tracing your food; knowing exactly where it comes from and the process used to create it is a good first step to take.
We are actually getting more access to fluoride than ever before, with certain water companies adding it to our regular flow so we don’t even notice that we’re getting it. However, a lot of people are purposely not ingesting it as it’s not an essential nutrient. It helps to protect against things like tooth decay, which can be a real concern later on in life. You don’t need a lot of it - too much fluoride is definitely a bad thing, but allowing a little into your water and toothpaste will really help with the condition of your teeth and bones.
This is the vitamin that is most well-known for the effects that it has to the clotting of your blood. Our blood needs to be able to clot once we bleed, else we just won’t stop bleeding - it’s as simple as that. It works hand in hand with Vitamin D, and if you have been tested for deficiency in either Vitamin K or D, you will be deficient in the other one too. It is a fat-absorbed vitamin, so you need to be eating a good amount of fat in your diet to feel the benefits from it. If you have eradicated fat from your diet entirely, then there is a high chance that your body is operating on a deficit. Vitamin K is important for the prevention of such diseases as cancer and Alzheimer’s, as well as osteoporosis and diabetes. It is naturally occurring within green plants, so ensuring that your plate is full of them either at lunch or dinner time is a great way to go about getting more of this vital nutrient in your system.
Potassium can be found in so many yummy foods that it’s actually harder to avoid it than it is to remind yourself to eat foods that contain it. If you have been experiencing things like dehydration, headaches and menstrual cramps that are hurting a bit more than they normally would, this can often be attributed to a lack of potassium within your diet. It is required to keep your vital organs functioning, so the more you can get, the better. It’s famously found in bananas, but the levels of potassium in this fruit compared to avocados, sweet potatoes and wild-caught salmon is considerably lower. That doesn’t mean that you should stop eating bananas, though - they’re a natural mood-booster as they help to release the dopamine hormone, giving you a buzz.
More commonly known as salt, sodium is something that we need in our diet. However, too much of a good thing can turn into being bad for your body with this mineral. The more potassium that you take in, the more it will help with the breakup of sodium in your body. We do need a certain amount of salt to help our blood flow, as well as helping our nerves and muscles to work as they should. It can be easy to go overboard, as a lot of our food already contains the RDA for salt intake. If you know that you’re not getting as much as you need, the symptoms can be quite clear; you may just be having headaches, but more severe cases can see a drastic reduction in the stability of your mental health, as well as seizures.
A lack of Vitamin C can cause a condition called scurvy to occur; typically associated with 18th century sailors which resulted in bleeding gums, intense bruising and blood spots appearing on the skin, it had appeared to have been completely eradicated … until cases were reported in Australia last year. Our diets are lacking in the fruits - such as oranges - which are big providers of this natural disease-fighter. We definitely need to be trying to get it into our systems as much as we can.
Iron deficiency anemia is unfortunately on the rise currently due to poor diets. This means that your body isn’t producing as many blood cells as it should. The result of this is that those who are suffering from a lack of iron are more prone to become fatigued quickly, becoming pale in complexion and having an increase of headaches. The less common symptoms include a desire to eat non-food items such as paper or clay; this is due to your body reacting in a way to get you to ingest more iron from any means possible. There are certain tablets that you can take for it (especially within pregnancy, where you may be prescribed medication by your doctor), as well as drink supplements that contain a good amount to get you back to rights.
There’s no such thing as Vitamin B - just a whole host of vitamins that fit under the umbrella! Each one plays a very important role, mainly centered around the nervous system and the functions of the skin. Folic acid counts as a B vitamin, which pregnant women are recommended to take to help with the development of their baby. These vitamins can be found in everyday foods like dairy and cereals.
Not much is spoken about Vitamin E, but it’s still an essential for your body. You don’t need to eat it every day, as your body is clever enough to store it for the future on the days that you have ingested a lot. It can be found in foods such as seeds and nuts, so snacking on these throughout the day can really help to boost your Vit E levels. It helps to keep your eyes and skin healthy, as well as teaming up with the other vitamins to help fight against diseases - so what’s not to love?
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