Why should you care about nutrient deficiencies?

According to a study done in 2017 almost a third of those above the age of nine are deficient in at least one or more essential nutrients. These deficiencies manifest in a multitude of ways including chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, cancer, dementia, obesity which account for 70% of deaths.

Along with chronic diseases, deficiencies can also result in depression, personality changes, chronic fatigue, poor work habits, and a lack of motivation - ultimately, many many illnesses or health concerns can be tied back to a deficiency.

The good news is that you can significantly decrease your chances of contracting these health issues and improve your day to day life by optimizing your health and environment.

Numerous studies including the Framingham Heart Study, the Multiethnic Cohort and large clinical trials concluded that the most common nutrient deficiencies are in:

  • Vitamin A

  • Eggs, orange and yellow veggies and fruits (cantaloupe, peppers, summer squash, mangos, sweet potato, pumpkin), broccoli, spinach and other leafy greens (cabbage, kale, spring greens), carrots, pistachios, salmon, beef liver, cod liver oil

  • Vitamin D

  • The sun :) , salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, red meat, liver, egg yolks

  • Supplementation usually recommended

  • Vitamin E

  • Avocado, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, broccoli, kiwi, mango, tomato, oatmeal, barley, rice, leafy greens, shellfish

  • Folate

  • Broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, liver

  • Vitamin C

  • Peppers, oranges, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, grapefruit, kiwi, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cauliflower

  • Calcium

  • Plain yogurt, mozzarella, sardines, cheddar cheese, milk, tofu, salmon, cottage cheese, kale, chia seeds, leafy greens

  • Vitamin B6

  • Pork, chicken, turkey, soybeans, peanuts, oats, bananas, milk, chickpeas, potatoes

  • Vitamin B12

  • Clams, sardines, beef, tuna, trout, salmon, milk, cheese, eggs

  • Magnesium

  • Leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, potatoes, rice, plain yogurt, oatmeal, kidney beans, bananas, salmon

  • Iron (mostly females)

  • Kidney beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, soybeans, lentils, peas, tofu, tempeh, whole grain breads, oatmeal, figs, dates, prunes, beef, chicken, clams, eggs, seafood, broccoli, leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, almonds, cashews

As you can see, the common threads here are fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and carbs, quality proteins and unsweetened/minimally processed dairy.

Yes, I know some of the long term changes feel SO far off, especially when you’re young dementia, cancer, heart disease all seem like a lifetime away and as if they’re inevitable, but they’re not and the sooner you start to implement healthy choices into your lifestyle, the better.

This is not to say you need to upheave your current lifestyle and stop eating your favorite foods if they’re not on this list. That wouldn’t be enjoyable and it’s not realistic. But, I bet you can find one food in each of the categories listed above that you enjoy. By adding these foods into your diet you will also see a change in your overall energy levels, improvement in your professional performance, attitude, relationships, and mindset.

A PS on the nuts/nut butter/beans:

When looking for nut butter try to avoid ones with added oils or sugar. Look for products with just the nut or the nut and salt. And, when looking for beans in a can, double check to make sure there's no added oils and that it also contains just beans or beans and salt.


Bird, J. K., Murphy, R. A., Ciappio, E. D., & McBurney, M. I. (2017, June 24). Risk of Deficiency in Multiple Concurrent Micronutrients in Children and Adults in the United States. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/7/655.

Bertone-Johnson E.R., Powers S.I., Spangler L., Larson J., Michael Y.L., Millen A.E., Bueche M.N., Salmoirago-Blotcher E., Wassertheil-Smoller S., Brunner R.L., et al. Vitamin D supplementation and depression in the women's health initiative calcium and vitamin D trial. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2012;176:1–13. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr482. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22573431

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Georgia: [updated 2016 Mar; cited 2021 May 14]. CDC’s second nutrition report: a comprehensive biochemical assessment of the nutrition status of the U.S. population; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/4Page_%202nd%20Nutrition%20Report_508_032912.pdf.

Karakis I., Pase M.P., Beiser A., Booth S.L., Jacques P.F., Rogers G., DeCarli C., Vasan R.S., Wang T.J., Himali J.J., et al. Association of Serum Vitamin D with the Risk of Incident Dementia and Subclinical Indices of Brain Aging: The Framingham Heart Study. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2016;51:451–461. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150991. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26890771

Kolonel L.N., Henderson B.E., Hankin J.H., Nomura A.M., Wilkens L.R., Pike M.C., Stram D.O., Monroe K.R., Earle M.E., Nagamine F.S. A multiethnic cohort in Hawaii and Los Angeles: Baseline characteristics. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2000;151:346–357. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a010213. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10695593

National Institutes of Health [Internet]. Maryland: [updated 2021 Mar 26; cited 2021 May 14]. Vitamin C fact sheet for health professionals; [about 14 pages]. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/.

National Institutes of Health [Internet]. Maryland:[updated 2021 Mar 26; cited 2021 May 14]. Magnesium fact sheet for health professionals; [about 13 pages]. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/.

National Institutes of Health [Internet]. Maryland: [updated 2021 Mar 26; cited 2021 May 14]. Vitamin A fact sheet for health professionals; [about 13 pages]. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/.

National Institutes of Health [Internet]. Maryland: [updated 2021 Mar 26; cited 2021 May 14]. Vitamin B6 fact sheet for health professionals; [about 12 pages]. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/.

National Institutes of Health [Internet]. Maryland: [updated 2021 Mar 26; cited 2021 May 14]. Vitamin D fact sheet for health professionals; [about 14 pages].https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

National Institutes of Health [Internet]. Maryland: [updated 2021 Mar 26; cited 2021 May 14]. Folate fact sheet for health professionals; [about 16 pages]. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/.

National Institutes of Health [Internet]. Maryland: [updated 2021 Mar 26; cited 2021 May 14]. Vitamin B12 fact sheet for health professionals; [about 12 pages]. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/.

Wang L., Ma J., Manson J.E., Buring J.E., Gaziano J.M., Sesso H.D. A prospective study of plasma vitamin D metabolites, vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, and risk of hypertension in men. Eur. J. Nutr. 2013;52:1771–1779. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0480-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23262750

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