Vitamin deficiencies are prevalent, some even reaching epidemic status in the United States.
Deficiencies that are common in developing countries are appearing en masse from much the same
reasons: (1) Dietary consumption of nutrients are inadequate due to overconsumption of meat,
processed, and convenience foods and (2) under consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Many Americans underestimate the importance and impact of nutrient deficiencies on health. Below
are five common nutrient deficiencies and how to correct them.
Iodine is a mineral that is necessary for the proper function of the thyroid gland. Without it, thyroid
hormone will not be produced and result in hypothyroidism, possibly a goiter, and cretinism, if deficient
during pregnancy. It is estimated that forty percent of the worldwide population is iodine deficient. Low
iodine is also been associated with many diseases, especially cancer. Iodine deficiency is believed to be
caused by several factors. (1) Low concentration of iodine in the soil; coastal areas tend to have greater
amounts due to the atmospheric absorption, (2) Insufficient intake of iodine rich foods, seaweed and
seafood, and (3) excessive intake of goitrogen containing foods and bromine containing foods. Food
sources of iodine include water dwelling fish and seaweed. Hijiki, kelp, and spirulina are excellent
sources. Iodine deficiency can be a cause of muscle spasms, cramps, pain and depression!
Vitamin K2 is essential for optimal health. It is essential for bone strength, health of arteries and blood
vessels. It is intimately involved with tissue renewal, cell growth, healthy pregnancy, and cancer
prevention. Without vitamin K2, vitamin D cannot work efficiently. It action is also impaired by vitamin
D. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods, as opposed to vitamin K1 which is found in green leafy
vegetables. Symptoms of Vitamin K2 deficiency include tarter buildup on the teeth, osteoporosis, and a
calcification of blood vessels. Many people do not even know of the existence of this vitamin. Vitamin
K2 comes from grass-fed animal products as well as fermented soy products. K2 can also be obtained
via supplements. Since this vitamin has not been studied thoroughly, the optimum dose has yet to be
recommended, however studies use fairly high doses, about 45 mg/day. K2 deficiency has been
associated with muscle tightness, spams and pain.
Almost eighty percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium. This is due to the under consumption
of plant foods as well as depletion of magnesium in the soil. Magnesium is essential for many metabolic
processes. As magnesium supply dwindles, the cellular metabolism slows, causing other health
conditions. Low magnesium levels are associated with high levels of insulin, depression, Chronic fatigue
syndrome, ADHD, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Sleep problems, Migraine, Cluster headaches,
Osteoporosis, Premenstrual syndrome, Chest pain (angina), Cardiac arrhythmias, Coronary artery
disease, atherosclerosis, Hypertension, muscle cramps, muscle spasms and Type II diabetes.
Magnesium is essential for detoxification and also important in the prevention of migraines and heart
disease. It is been shown that high magnesium levels reduce all cause death. Seaweed and green-leafy
vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are great sources. If supplementing,
make sure you take the chelated form, magnesium glycinate. In addition, make sure the magnesium
supplement contains calcium as to not offset the balance.
Since very little vitamin D is found in plants and animals, the only way to get the proper amount of
vitamin D is from the sun exposure. Since many Americans work inside and wear products with
sunscreen, vitamin D is not produced in adequate amounts. Researchers estimate that over fifty
percent of the population currently is deficient in vitamin D. Certain populations, such as those over
fifty, having darker skin, and the overweight/obese have a greater chance of becoming deficient. Food
sources include cod liver oil, fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, and vitamin D fortified foods. Many
people need to supplement with vitamin D to maintain adequate amounts. Vitamin D3 is the most
efficiently used form. Chronic pain conditions have been associated with low levels of vitamin D.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Some studies suggest that Omega-3 deficiency is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Most Americans eat too many omega-6 fatty acids, offsetting the balance and causing an inflammatory
response. This intern leads to heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and
diabetes. Increasing the amount of omega-3 and decreasing the consumption of omega-6 will provide
optimal health protection. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids as well as consuming fatty fish, flax
seeds, and chia seeds will help restore the balance of omega three fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid
supplementation has been associated with inflammation reduction.
Many nutrient deficiencies can be avoided by simply eating the foods containing the appropriate
nutrients; however, the standard American diet does not contain adequate amounts of the above
mentioned nutrients to maintain health. These vitamins and minerals are critical to proper function and
responsible for many pathologic conditions. Since the food supply is depleted, the American diet devoid
of nutrients, and sedentary lifestyles becoming more common, a high-quality multivitamin, omega-3 and
vitamin D supplement are recommended in addition to a healthy diet for prevention of nutrient
Dr. Scott Schreiber is the owner and clinic director of MN Spine and Sport. He is a chiropractic
physician, double board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition, a certified nutrition
specialist and a licensed nutritionist.