Why You Should Care About Nutrient Deficiency

Nutrition

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

If you feel tired and sluggish, irritable, as if you lack the ability to concentrate or maybe even depressed, don’t simply attribute not feeling like your best self to stress and not getting enough sleep. Yes, you may need a vacation, but the truth is your body may not be getting the amount of nutrients it needs from your diet.

You need six basic nutrients to live! They are protein, carbohydrates, water, minerals, vitamins and fats. And to live healthily, you need each of these six nutrients to be present in your bodies in the right balance. This means too little or too much of any of these nutrients may have consequences for your health. For example, too much or too little protein is not good for our health. Similarly, having too much or too little water, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates or fats may cause you to not only feel bad but also become unhealthy and more prone to disease.

And you have probably heard about the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). It is sometimes referred to as the amount of nutrients necessary for you to maintain good health.  The more technical definition of RDA is “the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals in a particular gender and life stage group (life stage considers age and, when applicable, pregnancy or lactation).” Reportedly, nearly all americans ( more than 90%) consume less than the recommended amount of nutrients required to remain healthy.   

When you do not consume the right balance of nutrients, you increase your risk of having health problems, like hypertension, fatigue, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, diabetes, cancer, obesity and for women - menopause.

Consuming the right amount of nutrients can be very difficult, because your needs may change due to a myriad of factors including your activity levels and health condition. As a result, you have to be aware of those factors that may affect your nutrient levels and take steps to adjust the amount you take, in order to stay in balance!

The toll medication may take on your nutrient levels should not be overlooked. Nearly everyone has taken some form of medication in their lives. Reportedly, 75% of visits to physician offices and hospital outpatient departments involve drug therapy. The frequent ones are painkillers, statins, antidepressants and antidiabetics. And during the the past 30 days, 1 in 2 persons will have used at least 1 prescription drug.

Medications (including over the counter (OTC) drugs) will deplete your body of many of these nutrients that are critical for your health. And when patients complain about not feeling well after they start to take medications, many doctors may prescribe even more drugs to address the complaints, which further depletes their nutrient levels. This may be due to the fact that not enough doctors focus on the importance of nutrition or test for nutrient imbalances.  Instead, they simply prescribe medications to make the symptoms go away and those prescriptions may cause even more imbalance.  

According to the National Institutes of Health, (NIH), “[g]ood clinical care extends beyond mere diagnosis and treatment of disease to appreciation that nutrient deficiencies can be the price of effective drug therapy.”

Therefore it is important that as consumers of healthcare, you are equally aware of the importance of prescribed drugs as well as their effects of depleting your nutrients. With this knowledge you can identify nutritional deficiencies and imbalances and work with a competent specialist to increase (or maybe even decrease) the levels of certain nutrients.  

It is necessary to constantly need to engage in this juggling act, in order to maintain the right balance of each nutrient if you want to remain healthy.

One medical doctor reported seeing many cases of patients who have experienced nutrient loss and resulting symptoms from taking prescribed medications.

Take a look at this doctor’s account.

Kathy, a 57-year-old retired schoolteacher, was being treated by her internist with three medications: the thiazide diuretic, Diuril, for high blood pressure; Fosamax for osteoporosis; and the beta-blocker, Tenormin, for heart palpitations.

Kathy was referred to me because she suffered from fatigue, anxiety, depression and insomnia. .. So, rather than adding an antidepressant, an anti-anxiety pill or sleeping agent, I investigated the known nutrient depletions associated with these medications.

Any one of her three medications could be depleting her potassium and magnesium levels, resulting in arrhythmias, hypertension, fatigue and depression. Additionally I discovered that the diuretic she was taking could be depleting her zinc levels. Follow-up lab tests confirmed that Kathy was deficient in three essential minerals: magnesium, potassium and zinc...

Once her mineral levels were restored, Kathy’s energy and mood were back to normal. Best of all, not only was she spared the burden of taking additional medications, she was able to lower the doses of the three she was already taking.”

It really is not that difficult to figure out whether your nutrients are in balance. Always be  prepared to discuss a list of all your medications with your doctor and ask what nutrients you should be concerned about. At your annual physical, chances are your doctor checks to see whether your cholesterol and a few nutrients, like calcium, potassium and vitamin D are balanced. But, you also need to check those other nutrients, like water, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B, C, E, K, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, etc. to see if you are balanced.

Dont just be content with the response that your physical was “fine.” Ask for a special, comprehensive nutrient test at least once each year to see if the healthy foods you are eating are working for you. And if you get headaches, feel tired, depressed or irritable, the first thing you should probably ask yourself is - which of my nutrients are out of balance?

And again, if you need to take medications, ask yourself - which nutrients will the meds remove that I will need to replace?

When people say being healthy is a balance of being physically active, eating healthy foods and indulging in moderation, this may be true. But it also comes down to knowing the science of what your body personally needs, nutrient by nutrient and periodically testing to see if these nutrients are balanced.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.

 

 

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