If a client comes to see me presenting with low energy levels, lethargy, weight management problems, sleep concerns or poor dietary habits one of the first things I’ll do is check for nutrient deficiencies. This means looking at their diet, assessing symptoms and looking at their recent blood tests.
Even if you who are super health-conscious, busy schedules and the demands of modern life can make it hard to get all the nutrients you need each day. Because of this, some deficiencies are more common than others. Here’s what some of them are and ways you can correct them:
Some research has shown that over 80% of New Zealanders tested were iodine deficient.
Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones which helps control metabolism, growth and development (in particular pregnant mothers); including in your brain, central nervous system and control of your ability to lose weight. These hormones are required for energy production and oxygen consumption in the cells. Iodine is found in the thyroid gland at 70-80%. Unfortunately, due to poor soil content in New Zealand iodine isn’t found abundantly in foods, causing deficiency. Deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, and enlarged thyroid gland (goitre), affects fertility, pregnancy and neurodevelopment disorders in new-borns.
The best food sources of iodine (which I recommend you consume daily) include:
seaweed, especially kelp. Or putting seaweed onto your vegetable garden, which transfers to growing vegetables high in Iodine.
Selenium is key mineral for making selenoproteins. One of the most important selenoproteins is glutathione, an antioxidant which helps detoxification and some studies have shown it may even be protective against cancers. Selenium also help to increase immunity, takes part in antioxidant activity that defends against free radical damage and inflammation, and plays a key role in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Once again New Zealanders dietary intakes of Selenium is lower than many other countries because of deficiencies in our soil.
The best food sources of selenium:
brazil nuts (eat 3 daily), also beef and fish.
Vitamin D plays a vital in our ability to absorb calcium and it is important for healthy bones and muscles. Vitamin D is also crucially important for cell growth, immune function, decreasing inflammation, hormonal health and deficiently in this essential vitamin has been linked to mood disorders such as depression, infertility, joint pain, and insomnia.
Over 80% of New Zealanders were found to be vitamin D deficient. The best way to ensure optimal vitamin D levels is to get outside in the sun and expose a large area of your body arms/legs/stomach/back in the sun for 10-20 minutes between 10am – 3pm (without sunscreen as it blocks vitamin D absorption) at least 3-4x a week. What we absorb in summer has to support our vitamin D levels throughout winter, as our body uses a certain amount of vitamin D daily. Because of this, often people need to supplement our vitamin D in winter to ensure optimal health and a healthy mood.
The best sources of vitamin D:
sun exposure, with smaller amounts found in egg yolks, fatty fish, cod liver oil.
Magnesium has gotten a lot of attention lately—and for good reason! This mineral is used in over 300 hundred biochemical reactions in the body and plays a role in the health your heart, it helps to regulate muscle and nerve contraction, synthesises protein, stabilizes blood pressure levels and blood sugar levels to name a few. Many people take this "relaxation mineral" to help the body handle stress and promote GI regularity.
There are many ways in which magnesium is lost from the body, poor dietary habits (too much processed foods), regular coffee consumption, alcohol, being under stress, pharmaceutical drugs, depleted soils. It’s a very common mineral to be deficient in, yet most people have no idea about this magnificent and vital mineral.
The best food sources of magnesium:
dark leafy greens, raw caocao powder, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, avocado, bananas, beans and legumes, whole grains.
Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. It is an extremely important mineral that is present in all cells and is essential for transporting oxygen through your body. There are two dietary forms of iron, heme (found in animal products) and non-heme (present in plant foods). The type of iron that’s found in grains and vegetables is not absorbed by the body as well as the iron found in meat. This means that even though as a vegetarian you might be eating decent amounts of iron, your body can’t process it as effectively, therefore, you'll require more non-heme iron to maintain a normal iron store in your body. To help your body absorb iron eat foods rich in vitamin C (e.g. berries, citrus fruits, capsicum or tomatoes) at the same time as you’re eating iron-rich foods.
The best food sources of iron:
beef, lamb, dark leafy green vegetables, spirulina, legumes, lentils, dried fruit such as medjool dates, black strap molasses are good sources of iron.
I hope this helps you understand a bit more about why these nutrients are essential for great health and in particular for great energy!
If you need help with exploring this or finding out if you are deficient in any of these nutrients, please don't hesitate to make contact.