The 5 most common deficiencies!

Even in the western world with all our health and technological advances, we still fall prey to a few simple nutritional insufficiencies. While they are common and it’s easy to understand how they happen - you should know the symptoms so you can spot them too! Today we’ll chat about the five most common ones health practitioners see and where to find them in food. We won’t go over magnesium deficiency because we talked about that in this blog


I would argue that this is the most common among young women today. The growing popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets (you can get plant-based iron) and lack of food education in school contributes to this. Iron deficiency symptoms may include: fatigue, muscle fatigue, dizziness, breathlessness, heart palpitations, heavy menstrual bleeding, and poor cognition. Iron is used to carry around oxygen in our blood and helps with neurotransmitter synthesis (notably dopamine and serotonin). Some foods you can find iron in include: red meat, green leafy vegetables, dried apricots, sun-dried tomatoes, kidney beans, chickpeas, liver meats, and fortified cereals.


This particular mineral is often found minimally in foods, and we largely get it from seafood, seaweed and iodised salt. Our bodies use iodine to produce thyroid hormones that regulate growth, energy and development among other things. Low iodine may lead to low thyroid function which looks like: dry skin, fatigue, hair loss and weight gain. Supplementing with iodine is not recommended unless advised by a health practitioner. Thyroid hormones are a delicate balance. 

Vitamin D

This should not be the case in Australia, but a side effect of the modern working environment and our busy lives means we spend less time in the sun. Very little (<10%) of our vitamin D comes from food sources, meaning you should be prioritising appropriate sun exposure. You won’t be able to spot too many symptoms for this one until it’s too late, but vitamin D is important for bone health, immune health and modulating inflammation. 10 - 15 minutes a day will keep your levels optimal. 


Calcium deficiency is also one of the ones you don’t spot quickly. While we all know calcium is great for strong bones and teeth, it’s also necessary for muscle contraction, nerve function, and blood clotting. Some symptoms you might note are muscle spasms that aren’t made better with magnesium supplementation. Since your body tightly regulates blood calcium levels, any deficiency will draw stored calcium from your bones. This is why it’s important to keep on top of calcium foods every day to ensure no long-term issues. Foods you can find calcium in include: tahini, brazil nuts, almonds, dairy, leafy green veg, tofu, sardines and salmon bones, and fortified foods. 


Frequent colds and flus, loss of appetite, and poor wound healing are all signs of zinc deficiency. This is because zinc is important in our immune system functions, a cofactor in making digestive enzymes, and important for collagen synthesis. Another function of zinc is as an antioxidant, and making new DNA/RNA strands (think reproduction here too). Foods that contain zinc are easy to find - red meat, dairy, seafood, pumpkin seeds, legumes, and whole grains. 

You may not recognise all these in yourself but did you learn something new? Let us know in the comments.

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published