Last reviewed by Drug Expert on May 25th, 2019.
Nutritional deficiencies are incredibly common, with millions of people around the world being deficient in at least one nutrient. Even if you eat a well-balanced diet, odds are you’re lacking in a particular vitamin or mineral. You may not think being deficient in a vitamin or mineral is a big deal, but being too low in just one nutrient can have serious effects on your health. What are the most common nutritional deficiencies that doctors see in their patients? How can you tell if you’re deficient in certain nutrients? And, most importantly, can you resolve nutritional deficiencies with supplements? Find out below!
The 10 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 Acids
- Vitamin K2
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
How To Tell If You Have Nutritional Deficiencies
Some nutrient deficiencies present no symptoms and show up on routine bloodwork. Other nutritional deficiencies can drastically affect your well-being. For example, being deficient in iron can lead to debilitating fatigue and anemia. Magnesium deficiencies can lead to neurological issues and heart rhythm abnormalities. As many people know, calcium deficiency can lead to brittle bones and early development of arthritis. The most common symptom among all nutrient deficiencies is severe fatigue and lethargy. This is what drives many patients to seek medical help and evaluation for nutritional deficiencies.
If your doctor suspects you have any kind of nutritional deficiency, they will order blood panels that will assess the levels of these nutrients in your system.
Can You Treat Nutrient Deficiencies With Supplements?
In most cases, your doctor will instruct you to improve your diet in order to resolve nutrient deficiencies. While this is actually the best way to fully absorb nutrients and reap their benefits, it’s not practical for everyone. After all, you’d have to eat just about everything every single day to ensure you were getting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals in your diet. This is why many people opt for nutritional supplements to counteract any deficiencies, but do these really work?
The answer is yes and no. Certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies can actually be resolved by taking dietary supplements. Other vitamins and minerals are really only absorbed properly through food sources. For example, Vitamin C supplements have been shown to increase Vitamin C levels and provide the expected necessary immune support. Other supplements are less beneficial, such as multivitamins. Research has shown that most multivitamins do not contain enough of any particular vitamin to significantly increase the amount in the individual’s system.
Whether or not supplements resolve deficiency depends on how long the deficiency has been present. An acute drop in a particular nutrient may not resolve from suddenly taking a supplement. Rather, long term deficiency typically does improve from taking a particular supplement over time.
It’s important to not overdo it with supplements. You may feel that taking a large dosage of a certain supplement will resolve a deficiency of that nutrient, but taking too much of any supplement can have adverse effects. It’s also important to consult with your physician before taking any new supplement.