New Year, New Goals? Make Sure You Are Not Nutrient Deficient

Nutrition

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

Many people have the same goal in mind at the beginning of a new year -  lose a few pounds. The idea of losing weight usually includes eating less of certain foods and increasing physical activity. And both of these activities are necessary in order to maintain a healthy weight.  

However, a basic prerequisite to losing weight healthily is ensuring that your body gets all the important nutrients it needs to function efficiently. When your bodies are able to absorb critical nutrients from the good foods you eat, you will be in better shape to perform the necessary physical activity needed to lose weight.  

Reportedly, 9 in 10 Americans do not absorb or consume the required amounts of one or more key nutrients from the foods they eat. Some of these nutrients include potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, D, E and C.

“Iron also is underconsumed by adolescent girls and women ages 19 to 50 years,” according to the guidelines. “Low intakes for most of these nutrients occur within the context of unhealthy overall eating patterns, due to low intakes of the food groups— vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy—that contain these nutrients.”

A body that is nutritionally imbalanced may not accommodate your weight loss goals. And the truth is many people are not getting enough of the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy.  

“When deficiencies become the underlying cause of weight loss resistance, I find nutrient-based treatment can often help reset my patients’ metabolisms to balance out body chemistry,” said Dr. Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. Getting the correct amount of nutrients can help you burn fat, balance blood sugar, stabilize hormones and build and maintain muscle mass.”

Additionally, being overweight may have an impact on your bodies' ability to absorb nutrients.

Aspects of being overweight or obese have been shown to alter the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and/or excretion of micronutrients,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“For example, among persons who are obese, vitamin D has been shown to have decreased bioavailability from cutaneous [relating to or affecting the skin] and dietary sources and possibly to be sequestered by adipose tissue. Also, thiamin metabolism of obese persons appears to be altered, leading to a decrease in cellular absorption and an increase in intracellular conservation.”

It is, therefore, critical that before you start any weight loss program, you determine whether your body has the right proportion of each of the six basic nutrients it needs in order to stay healthy. These basic nutrients are water, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins.  

Examples of nutrient deficiencies that may stand in the way of your resolution to lose weight?

  • Magnesium. This nutrient is one of the major minerals inside our bodies’ cells. Outside of the cells, it is an important cofactor for hundreds of processes and reactions in the body, including energy. Studies with rats have shown that a low magnesium level can slow down growth of lean body mass (muscle and bone building) and promote an increase in body fat. Some healthcare professionals also believe that people with low magnesium tend to have high blood sugar. Dietary sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables (like spinach), legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
  • Phosphorus. People who are overweight or obese tend to have high-carb diets (including processed, nutrient void carbs like white rice, white bread, pasta and sweets). And one theory is that high-carb diets increase insulin release, which creates a reaction that consumes a lot of phosphorus. This could mean the phosphorus in the body isn’t available to do other reactions in the body, like burn off food. This low metabolism gets mistranslated to the body as “not enough food,” which may cause us to eat more. Supporting this theory is that high levels of phosphorus in the body are linked with lower body weight. You can eat salmon, yogurt, turkey (light meat), chicken (light meat), beef, lentils, almonds, peanuts and eggs for dietary sources of phosphorus.
  • Iron. This mineral may be critical for the energy you need to increase your physical activity. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a component of your red blood cells that delivers oxygen to all the cells in your body. Without adequate iron, your body can’t carry enough oxygen to your vital organs. Low iron levels may leave you feeling quite tired. So you can probably imagine that if you have low iron, you may not feel up for going to the gym and working out (which along with diet, is key in weight loss). Furthermore, excess weight appears to be associated with iron deficiency. One study reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggested that the treatment of iron deficiency anemia induced weight loss and improved metabolic parameters. To learn about foods that are rich in iron, click here.
  • B vitamins. There is some evidence that non-optimal levels of vitamin B12 may increase the likelihood of obesity. B vitamins are also important for the maintenance of the adequate energy levels you will need to complete any weight loss program. You can eat sunflower seeds, avocados, salmon, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower and yogurt to get more of B vitamins in your daily diet.
  • Water. There is credible evidence that increased hydration is associated with reduced body weight. So inadequate water intake may affect our ability to lose weight.  

Finally, to ensure that you are nutritionally balanced and that you can move ahead full-steam with your weight loss goals it is imperative to get a comprehensive nutrient test. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods helps, but it does not guarantee that your body is absorbing adequate nutrients from the foods you eat to remain healthy and help you lose weight.

If you discover you have nutrient deficiencies and imbalances, work with a competent healthcare professional to tweak your diet, take good quality supplements or even consider the use of liposomal technology.

Enjoy your healthy life!


The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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