Vital Nutrition: Common Vitamin Deficiencies

Although modern diets provide plenty of our most vital nutrients, many of us underconsume a few key vitamins and minerals. Learn about the most common vitamin deficiencies and how to ensure you’re getting enough.

| September/October 2015

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Although they are relatively lower in calcium, plant-based diets correlate with good bone health.

Photo by iStock

In an age when crackers, cookies and even bottled water are vitamin-fortified, vitamin and mineral deficiencies are relatively uncommon. In fact, a 2014 study raised concerns that, between fortified foods and supplement use, consumption of micronutrients has begun to exceed recommended daily intakes. For many vitamins and minerals, high levels can impair health.

Nevertheless, when the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee made public their scientific report on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the group noted shortfalls in certain nutrients and linked them to underconsumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy. Another potential reason for the nutrient shortfalls may involve modern agriculture, which has reduced soil levels of vital minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron.

Much of the time, nutrient deficits can be corrected with improved diet and, in the case of vitamin D, sensible sun exposure. Our hope is that this list gets you thinking about your particular set of nutrient needs and whether you’re getting enough of these crucial vitamins and minerals. To document full-blown deficiency, blood tests are needed. If you fear you’re deficient or at risk for deficiency, your health practitioner can help you determine whether supplementation is wise and how much to take.

Vitamin D

Why it’s critical

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with depression, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Vitamin D is also crucial for regulating calcium levels, improving muscle function and protecting lung function. Cells in most bodily tissues have vitamin D receptors.

How common is deficiency?

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