Nutritional Deficiencies: Symptoms and Solutions for 24 Common Deficiencies

August 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

I am often asked why I prescribe (and take) so many supplements. Although this article is very lengthy, I think it contains important information that will help you appreciate the need for supplementation. I hope you find it useful.

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion compiled their Healthy Eating Index, they found only a slight reason to smile. Only ten percent of the population had a good diet. (Side Note: the USDA’s standards are very low, as compared to optimum health.)

This was based on ten aspects of diet, including how many servings of fruits, vegetables and meat were being consumed, along with how much sodium and cholesterol and variety were in a person’s diet. (Side Note: Eating cholesterol is not a problem. Your body produces four or five times more cholesterol than you eat. Another symptom of the USDA’s poor standards.)

The rest of their findings left something to be desired:

  • 16 percent of the population had a “poor” diet
  • The rest of the population (74%) ad a diet that “needed improvement”

As the USDA pointed out, poor or inadequate diets are linked to four of the top ten causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. As it turns out, most of us have less-than-deal diets that essentially leave our bodies starving for more nutrients.

Along with poor diets, studies have found that key nutrients in foods have greatly declined since 1909. This is most likely because the soil is not as nutrient-dense as it once was; and the processing of foods seriously degrades the nutrients that do exist. So not only are we eating fewer healthy foods, but those we do eat contain fewer nutrients than they once did. You should also understand that fresh produce is not the answer, either, since grocers typically wash produce every 10 minutes or so, and this seriously depletes the B vitamins and minerals in the food.

AS a result, many Americans – even those who think they are eating relatively healthily – may be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Some of the more common ones in the United States include:

Zinc Phosphorus
Iron Vitamin D
B vitamins Fiber
Magnesium Folic Acid
Calcium Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Vitamins E and C Chromium
Iodine Copper

(Side Note: nearly everyone I have ever tested is deficient in zinc. Read on to find out just how important that is.)

 

If you are experiencing any unusual health symptoms, a nutrient deficiency could be to blame. Below is a list of common and not-so-common nutrients, along with deficiency symptoms and foods you should eat if you think you need more of those nutrients. Please note that the recommended foods are not generally on the average individuals shopping list. If you are avoiding whole grains and dairy (Paleo diet), you are short-changing yourself even further. I also doubt many of us consume liver (a nutrient super star) on a regular basis. Also discussed are four little known misconceptions regarding copper, magnesium, iodine and chromium.

Biotin

  • Deficiency: Uncommon
  • Symptoms: Dermatitis, eye inflammation, hair loss, loss of muscle control, insomnia and muscle weakness
  • Recommended foods: Swiss chard, cauliflower, liver, salmon, carrots, bananas, cereals (whole grains only) and yeast

Calcium

  • Deficiency: Average diet contains 40% to 50% of RDA
  • Symptoms: Brittle nails, cramps, delusions, depression, insomnia, irritability, osteoporosis, palpitations, periodontal disease, rickets and tooth decay
  • Recommended foods: Spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, yogurt, milk, mozzarella cheese
  • Supplementation: Take calcium supplements. However, DO NOT take calcium carbonate, which is like swallowing rocks that can cause gut blockage, is unabsorbable and can do potentially more harm than good for your digestive tract. Calcium provides a marker for white bloods cells to identify bacteria or bad cells, which is helpful in reducing most fevers. When calcium is deficient, especially when a high fever is present, the white blood cells are unable to find the calcium markers to rid the body of the bad cells. Call your doctor’s office if fever persists.

Furthermore, your body uses protein to transport calcium in your blood stream. So, if you are a vegan or have trouble digesting protein, you can very well be deficient in the beneficial effects of calcium.

Chromium

  • Deficiency: 90% of diets are deficient
  • Symptoms: Anxiety, fatigue, glucose intolerance, adult-onset diabetes
  • Supplementation benefits: May help prevent heart attacks, improve cholesterol and much more
  • Recommended foods: Romaine lettuce, onions, tomatoes, brewer’s yeast, oysters, liver, whole grains, bran cereals, potatoes

Chromium is an essential mineral that we all need – in trace amounts – to help maintain normal blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol levels. However, many Americans are deficient in this nutrient, primarily because modern food processing strips away much of the chromium that naturally occurs in commonly eaten foods. {N.B. French fries have no chromium left in them.}

Chromium can prevent heart attacks

Among the research revealing the importance of getting enough chromium is a study by Johns Hopkins University researchers published in an issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Based on a study of chromium levels of 684 men who had previously had a myocardial infarction (heart attack), it was found that low levels of chromium were linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Specifically:

  • The men in the study had, on average, 15% lower chromium levels than men in a control group who had never had a heart attack.
  • Those with the highest chromium levels were 35% less likely to have a heart attack than those with the lowest levels.

Chromium is beneficial for reducing cholesterol levels

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that chromium significantly lowers cholesterol levels. Among 300 patients, those receiving chromium had cholesterol reductions of 20 points, on average. Several other clinical studies also suggest that chromium is useful for lowering bad LDL cholesterol, while raising the good (HDL) kind.

 

Control diabetes and high blood pressure

Chromium is the active component of glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which primarily increases the action of insulin. When blood glucose levels begin to rise after a meal, the pancreas secretes insulin. The insulin lowers glucose levels in your blood by increasing the rate at which glucose enters your cells. In order for this to happen, insulin must attach to receptors on the surface of the cells; GTF is thought to initiate this process. (Side note: All of the blood sugar regulating nutrients I prescribe do contain chromium.) It is most effective for pre-diabetes, but is also helpful in Type 2 diabetes.

Why many Americans may be deficient

Although you can get all the chromium you need from a healthy diet, many Americans eat a diet that focuses on processed junk foods or other highly refined foods. If this applies to you, you may not be ingesting enough chromium.

Food that is highly processed does not retain its naturally occurring chromium. It is therefore essential to eat fresh, chromium-rich foods (listed above). Chromium deficiency can lead to:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Elevated blood levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia)
  • Elevated blood levels of glucose
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Syndrome X (a collection of symptoms including hyperinsulinemia, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and low HDL cholesterol levels. All of these factors increase your risk of heart disease)

I remember attending a seminar in the mid- to late 1990s where one of the original researchers presented his data with regard to the beneficial effect of chromium on HDL levels and heart disease. Seems like the medical world is finally catching up!

Are you getting enough?

Although there is no official recommended daily allowance for chromium, the National Institutes of Health say normal daily-recommended intakes are as follows:

  • Birth to 3 years of age: 10 to 80 micrograms per day
  • 4 to 6 years of age: 30 to 120 micrograms per day
  • 7 to 10 years of age: 50 to 200 micrograms per day
  • Adolescents and adults: 50 to 200 micrograms per day

However, be aware that certain conditions can increase the excretion of chromium from your body, which increases the amount of chromium you need to take in. These conditions include: diabetes, heart disease, physical injury or trauma, and mental stress. These levels are low based upon optimum health. I typically prescribe 600 to 1200 micrograms per day.

Copper

  • Deficiency: 75% of diets are deficient; average diet contains 50% of RDA
  • Anemia, arterial damage, depression, ADD and ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder (especially in young people), diarrhea, fatigue, fragile bones, hair loss, hyperthyroidism, weakness
  • Deficiency or toxicity tests: Blood, urine, feces and hair testing
  • Recommended foods (only if deficient. Be certain to test for deficiency vs. toxicity especially in children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD): crimini mushrooms, turnip greens, blackstrap molasses, raw cashews, sunflower seeds, spinach, asparagus, dark chocolates (while reducing zinc-rich foods, such as meats)

If copper toxicity is found (high levels of copper): zinc is the primary agent for depletion of copper and is important in the effort to eliminate toxic levels of copper to gain balance. In addition to zinc supplementation, zinc is found in meats while it is also important to reduce consumption of foods listed above that contain copper.

The key is balance. The challenge is the commonness of zinc deficiency and the prevalence of copper water pipes, which increase ingestion of copper.

Copper is so important to your daily functions that in a research paper the World Health Organization (WHO) stated:

Copper is an essential nutrient. The USA and Canada recently established a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults of 900 μg/day. Values for children are 340 μg/day for the first 3 years, 440 μg/day for ages 4 through 8, 700 μg/day for ages 9 through 13 and 890 μg/day for ages 14 through 18.”

             “Copper is required for the proper functioning of many important enzyme systems.”

To put it simply, copper is described by doctors such as Dr. Lawrence Wilson (nutritional consultant and former medical writer and researcher for the U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) as having:

“. . .a number of important functions in the human body. . .1. Bones and connective tissue. Copper is required to fix calcium in the bones and to build and repair all connective tissue. . .2. Energy production in the cells. Copper is needed in the final steps of the Krebs energy cycle called the electron transport system. This is where most of our cellular energy is produced. . .3. Immune response. Copper must remain in balance with zinc. When imbalances occur, one is more prone to all infections, in particular fungal and yeast infections that are so common today.”

But that’s not all; Dr. Wilson adds that copper is also important for:

“4.The glandular system, particularly the thyroid and adrenal glands . . .In part, this is due to its nature and how easily it is influenced by the sympathetic nervous system. . .5. Reproductive system. Copper is closely related to estrogen metabolism, and is required to women’s fertility and to maintain pregnancy. . .6. Nervous system. Copper stimulates production of the neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. It is also required for monoamine oxidase, an enzyme related to serotonin production. As a result, copper is involved deeply with all aspects of the central nervous system.”

Of the problems associated with too much or too little copper in your system are:

“. . . most psychological, emotional and often neurological conditions. These include memory loss, especially in young people, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and others.. . .”

If you want to know more, read Dr. Wilson’s article on Copper Toxicity Syndrome.

Is your child exhibiting symptoms of ADD or ADHD?

The Canadian Mental Health Organization highlights the fact that diagnosing ADD and ADHD is extremely difficult. In particular, they state: “Children with these disorders are inattentive, overly impulsive and, in the case of ADHD, hyperactive.”

Again, it is important to emphasize that an accurate diagnosis cannot simply be determined on your own. You must seek the meticulous and detailed experience of a healthcare professional, especially one with experience treating these particular disorders.

The problem is that it is impossible to determine zinc/copper imbalances simply by observation. Testing is essential, particularly with the prevalence of copper water pipes in the U.S. (Side bar: New construction is more dangerous than old pipes. See the hyperlink above for more info.)

Essential Fatty Acids

  • Deficiency: Very common
  • Symptoms: Diarrhea, dry skin and hair, hair loss, immune impairment, infertility, poor wound healing, premenstrual syndrome, acne, eczema, gall stones, liver degeneration
  • Recommended foods: wild-caught salmon (avoid farm-raised salmon because they are fed corn which destroys the Ω3:Ω6 ratio), flax seeds and walnuts

A problem in the U.S. is the prevalence of commercial fisheries and feedlots where fish and beef cattle are fed corn for convenience. This “innovation” has seriously changed the balance of Ω3:Ω6 fatty acid ratio. The only statistic I am aware of is that (in grass-fed animals) this ratio is 1:1. Commercially raised animals exhibit a ratio of 1 part Ω3 to 13 parts (or more) Ω6. This is a real problem because Ω3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, while Ω6s are inflammatory. Sesame seed oil supplements (not cooked oil) can be used to block the conversion of Ω6 to inflammatory prostaglandins. Since Ω6s are ubiquitous in our food supply, I highly recommend everyone take a sesame seed oil capsule with each meal.

Folic Acid

  • Deficiency: Average diet contains 60% of RDA; deficient in 100% of elderly in one study; deficient in 48% of adolescent girls — requirement doubles in pregnancy
  • Symptoms: Anemia, apathy, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite, neural tube defects in fetus (spina bifida and worse), paranoia, shortness of breath, weakness
  • Recommended foods: Romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils. (Yes, parsley is more than just a garnish.)

I don’t know how many of you are aware of the neural tube defect epidemic in the 1970s. Many babies were being born with spina bifida or anencephaly (lack of brain development); research indicated that the problem was a folic acid deficiency. This led directly to the “enrichment” of white flour with another B vitamin – folic acid. As you may know, I don’t consider adding a smidgen of nutrition back into a food that has been denuded of its value (white flour) to be “enrichment.”

In addition, in my clinical experience, people with heart problems respond amazingly to high doses of folic acid. Need is determined by looking at the complete blood count; enlarging red blood cells (RBCs) indicate that the body needs more folic acid and vitamin B12 to produce more RBCs. My experience makes sense with regard to improving heart problems since RBCs carry oxygen to the tissues.

One of the major problems with folic acid, as with all of the B vitamins, is that it is washed out of fresh greens at the supermarket as the grocery attempts to “preserve” freshness with constant misting.

Iodine

  • Deficiency: Often mistakenly believed to be an uncommon deficiency based on the belief that there is enough supplementation of iodine with iodized salt.
  • Symptoms: Weight gain, breast cancer, cretinism (in infants), fatigue, hypothyroidism (leading to heart failure in severe instances), heart palpitations, heat intolerance, nervousness, insomnia, breathlessness, increased bowel movements, light or absent menstrual periods
  • Recommended foods: Seaweed, sea vegetables, yogurt, cow’s milk, eggs, strawberries, and mozzarella cheese. (Side bar: careful regarding seaweed and sea vegetables. Avoid those harvested from polluted waters.)

Thyroid hormone is needed to help the cells of organs and tissues work at night. Thyroid hormone helps your body use energy, helps you stay warm and allows your heart, brain and other organs to work at peak performance.

Thyroid hormone also regulates the formation of other hormones and governs sexual function. If your levels of thyroid hormone drop below normal, your heart, liver, kidneys and endocrine system are all affected.

A shortage of iodine causes devastating changes to your thyroid gland and leads to malfunctions of metabolism and immune response. Many other parts of your body contain large stores of iodine, including the breasts. Next to your thyroid glands, breasts are the body’s second largest storage sites for iodine. That is simply because iodine is needed for proper breast development, function and maintenance of the breasts’ shape and structure. Without iodine your body simply could not function.

Iodine and your diet: Are you getting enough?

One of the most common misconceptions that many people have been sold is that table salt provides you with all of the iodine that your body needs to remain healthy. This could not be further from the truth. With only 10% of iodized salt being bioavailable, it is hardly enough to supply your body with the necessary amounts of iodine. Furthermore, as mentioned in the above article, the substitution of bromine for iodine in baked goods causes further depletion.

Despite all of the data showing the importance of iodine in the body, many people are still unaware of the need to maintain their iodine levels. Recent research shows that iodine levels in humans over the last 30 years have plummeted by an average of 50%. This decline is thought to be one of the most logical reasons for the increased number of many serious chronic health problems, including possibly breast cancer. Another article on thyroid health is linked here.

One researcher who has studied this issue in depth is David Brownstein, MD, author of the book “Iodine: Why You Need It. Why You Can’t Live Without It.” I highly recommend it. Dr. Brownstein tested over 4,000 people, checking their iodine levels. He found that 96% of the people studied had iodine levels that were below normal. What was even worse is that most of them had levels so low, that they were below any detectable limits. It is for this reason that eating a diet rich in iodine is so important for your overall health. Some suggestions for eating a well-balanced diet while boosting iodine include:

  • Seafood: It is recommended that you eat two to three meals of seafood per week in order to get the beneficial fish oils. Eating fish just two times a week will also provide most adults with enough iodine to meet their average iodine requirement. However, you must be careful to choose only wild-caught seafood from non-polluted areas. Also, avoid fish at the top of the food chain (tuna and shark, for example) to avoid mercury contamination.
  • Dairy Products: Milk and cheese are great sources of iodine with one cup of milk having around 55 The fad of avoiding all dairy products further depletes iodine reserves.
  • Organic Yogurt: A natural probiotic, yogurt is a great food full of iodine and is easy to add to your diet. Look for natural varieties that do not contain excess sugar or artificial flavors. My personal favorite is Elli Quark, sweetened with stevia and available online.
  • Seaweed (kelp) and eggs: These foods provide additional dietary sources of iodine; however, as with fish sources the seaweed needs to come from unpolluted areas.
  • Some vegetables: Veggies may contain iodine, but only if they are grown in iodine-rich soils. This is becoming less and less common as agribusiness uses chemical fertilizers.

Iodine deficiency, hypothyroidism and breast cancer

Recent research shows that prolonged deficiencies of iodine can cause or exacerbate breast cancer. Animal studies were conducted over 40 years ago that show breast tissue of animals with iodine deficiency developed cancer when the deficiency was not corrected. The same study showed that the risk of breast cancer was directly related to the length of time the iodine deficiency was present.

Iodine deficiency is also known to cause a condition known as fibrocystic breast disease. It is a pre-cancerous condition of the breast tissue, which makes the breast very painful and fibrous. Due to the fibrous and dense nature of breast tissue in fibrocystic disease, it is very hard for doctors to detect the presence of breast cancer. Several studies have shown that supplementation with iodine significantly decreased breast pain, tenderness and nodules in women with fibrocystic breast disease. This makes it easier to evaluate breast tissue properly when testing for the presence of cancer.

Other studies have shown that women with breast cancer tend to develop an enlarged thyroid (a symptom of iodine deficiency) more often than women who do not develop breast cancer. This is especially true among women who have swelling of the thyroid gland due to iodine deficiency, a condition known as goiter.

Given the fact that both the breasts and the thyroid glands must compete for iodine in the body when a deficiency is present, it makes sense that these conditions would develop in the absence of proper iodine levels.

Additional studies show that women with breast cancer are more likely to develop hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, than are women who are healthy. The researchers believe an association between hypothyroidism and breast cancer may be due to the biologic effect that the thyroid hormones have on the cells of breast tissue. It is believed that iodine deficiency leads to excess estrogen, which then leads to breast cancer or fibrocystic breast disease. The ovaries normally concentrate iodine, but when iodine is deficient, the ovaries simply produce more estrogen. This exposes the breasts to higher concentrations of estrogen in the blood stream, which makes the risk of fibrocystic breasts or breast cancer much higher.

Iodine is thought to suppress the growth of tumors, induce the death of tumor cells and regulate the genes that influence hormone metabolism, the life cycle of cells, growth and differentiation.

Hypothyroidism and iodine supplements

It is always very important to realize that if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and are taking iodine supplements, your doctor needs to monitor your situation closely. As the iodine supplements begin to increase the efficiency of your thyroid function, you may require adjustments in the dosage of your thyroid medication.

You should contact your doctor regarding your dosage if you experience any of these common symptoms of hypothyroidism:

Palpitations Fatigue
Heat Intolerance Increased Heart Rate
Nervousness Trembling Hands
Insomnia Weight Loss
Breathlessness Muscle Weakness
Increased Bowel Movements Warm, Moist Skin
Light/Absent Menstrual Periods Hair Loss

Iron

  • Deficiency: Most common mineral deficiency
  • Symptoms: Anemia, brittle nails, confusion, constipation, depression, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, inflamed tongue and mouth lesions
  • Recommended foods: Swiss chard, spinach, thyme, shitake mushrooms, green beans, liver and red meat

Magnesium

  • Deficiency: 75% to 85% of diets deficient. Average diet contains 50% to 60% of RDA
  • Symptoms: Anxiety, confusion, heart attack, hyperactivity, insomnia, nervousness, muscular irritability, restlessness, weakness
  • Recommended foods: Swiss chard, spinach, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black beans, navy beans

Magnesium rarely edges out other, more talked about nutrients like vitamin E or calcium to make front-page news, but it should. Magnesium plays a vital role in several hundred of your body’s functions, including energy production and normal heart function, but the majority of Americans are not getting enough in their daily diets.

As many as 68% of Americans do not consume the daily recommended amount of magnesium, according to a government study. 19% do not consume even half of the amount they need. Even the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) points out that, “For many people, dietary intake may not be high enough to promote an optimal magnesium status, which may be protective against disorders such as cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction.” (https://ods.od/gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessionnal/) Please paste into your browser; I could not get it to work as a hyperlink.

According to ODS, “Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.” It helps to do the following:

  • Maintains normal muscle and nerve function (e.g. quiets restless legs and Charley horses)
  • Keeps heart rhythm steady
  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Keeps bones strong
  • Regulates blood sugar levels
  • Promotes normal blood pressure
  • Maintains energy metabolism and protein synthesis

“There is an increased interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” says ODS, and it is this increasing knowledge that magnesium is a major player in heart health that has piqued many scientists’ interest. Highlights of studies on the topic include:

  • The American Heart Journal reported that patients with good magnesium levels who had undergone surgery to replace damaged coronary arteries were less likely to die or have a heart attack in the following year than those with poor magnesium levels.
  • A strong link was found between optimum levels of magnesium and a lowered risk of coronary heart disease, as reported in the American Journal of Cardiology
  • In a study of cardiac bypass surgery patients by Duke University Medical Center, it was found that those with low magnesium levels were twice as likely to experience a heart attack or die from al causes as those with normal levels.
  • A long-term study of men by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that those with the lowest magnesium intake were twice as likely to have had coronary heart disease problems than those with the highest intake.
  • Evidence suggests that low magnesium levels increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which may increase the risk of complications after a heart attack, according to ODS.
  • Heart disease patients who received a magnesium supplement twice a day for six months had a 14% improvement in exercise duration and were less likely to experience exercise-related chest pain than those who received a placebo.

“A growing body of evidence,” explains Jerry L. Nadler, MD, division chief of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Virginia, “suggests that magnesium plays a pivotal role in reducing cardiovascular risk and may be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes itself.”

Recommended dietary allowances for magnesium are as follows:

  • Boys and girls aged 1-3: 80 mg/day
  • Boys and girls aged 4-8: 130 mg/day
  • Boys aged 14-18: 410 mg/day
  • Girls aged 14-18: 360 mg/day
  • Men aged 19-30: 400 mg/day
  • Women aged 19-30: 310 mg/day
  • Men 31 and over: 420 mg/day
  • Women 31 and over: 320 mg/day

Again, these levels are low by optimum wellness standards. An excellent way to assess whether you are getting enough magnesium is by bowel function. If you are constipated, you need more. Also, if you suffer from nighttime muscle cramps you need more. Serum magnesium is one of the measurements in my standard blood chemistry test. Nearly everyone I test needs supplementation.

A 2011 meta-analysis published in Diabetes Care examined epidemiological studies with more than 500,000 participants and showed a diabetes risk reduction of 14% with every 100 mg increase in daily, dietary magnesium. A later, more rigorous double-blind study confirmed that after four months on magnesium supplementation, both fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels were significantly lower in the intervention group when compared with the placebo. A standardized measure of insulin resistance was also lower in the intervention group than in the placebo group. For more details, click here to link to the article.

Signs of deficiency

What we often call “clues”! Americans may have less-than-optimal magnesium levels and not experience signs of deficiency. For instance, while the recommended daily amount of magnesium for adult men is 420 mg/day, most eat only 327 mg/day. Early signs of actual deficiency include: loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness.

More severe magnesium deficiency can result in: numbness and tingling muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, coronary spasms. Severe magnesium deficiency can lead to low levels of calcium and potassium in the blood.

How to get more magnesium in your diet

Eating a variety of magnesium-rich foods is the best way to get more of this essential nutrient. Remember that it’s possible to have sub-optimal magnesium levels and not experience any actual symptoms.

“A diet rich in magnesium would benefit everyone especially people with risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, such as obesity, hypertension, elevated blood lipid levels, or a family history of diabetes,” said Monika Waelti, PhD, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.

Some of the best food sources of magnesium include:

  • Whole grains (only unrefined; refining removes the magnesium)
  • Avocados
  • Squash
  • Almonds
  • Leafy Greens (unfortunately, magnesium is washed out when the grocery stores spray water on the greens)
  • Some Beans and Peas

“Hard” drinking water is also a good source of the nutrient. “Hard” water typically has a higher concentration of magnesium salts than “soft” water.

“Increasing dietary intake of magnesium can often restore mildly depleted magnesium levels,” ODS reported. So go ahead and indulge in some magnesium-rich favorites like guacamole with some whole-grain crackers, baked acorn squash, fruit salad and mixed greens. You’ll be well on your way to a healthy magnesium level and, as more and more research is pointing out, a healthy heart to go along with it.

Manganese

  • Deficiency: According the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is estimated that as many as 37% of Americans do not meet the RDA for this mineral; may be common in women
  • Symptoms: Atherosclerosis, dizziness, elevated cholesterol, glucose intolerance, hearing loss, loss of muscle control, ringing in the ears, Peyronie’s syndrome in men (progressive scarification of the genitals. I have treated this condition and found only one reference to the need for manganese in the work of Dr. Royal Lee.)
  • Recommended foods: Mustard greens, kale, chard, raspberries, pineapple, romaine lettuce, collard greens, maple syrup
  • Foods that inhibit manganese: Foods that contain phytic acid, such as beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains and soy products; also foods high in oxalic acid, such as cabbage and sweet potatoes also affect manganese absorption, but to a lesser degree.

Niacin (B3)

  • Deficiency: Commonly deficient in the elderly
  • Symptoms: Bad breath, canker sores, confusion, dementia, depression, dermatitis, diarrhea, emotional instability, fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, memory impairment muscle weakness, nausea, skin eruptions, inflammation, arteriosclerosis
  • Recommended foods: Crimini mushrooms, tuna (be cautious of mercury and other pollutants that can be found in fish), wild-caught salmon, chicken breast and asparagus

Corn, molasses and salt pork are all poor sources of niacin and are staples of the Southern diet. When I was a youngster, growing up in rural Florida, the crazy aunt in the attic was practically a cliché. The lack of niacin-rich foods led to pellagra, the late stage of severe niacin deficiency. Its cause and cure were not discovered until well into the 20th century.

Pantothenic Acid (B5)

  • Deficiency: Average diet of the elderly contains 60% of RDA
  • Symptoms: Abdominal pains, burning feet, depression, eczema, fatigue, headaches, hair loss, immune impairment, insomnia, irritability, low blood pressure, muscle spasms, nausea, poor coordination and an inability to relax
  • Recommended foods: Calves’ liver, mushrooms, cauliflower, avocado, broccoli, turnip greens, sunflower seeds

Pantothenic acid is critical to the proper functioning of the adrenal glands – hence the immune impairment and low blood pressure associated with deficiency. High stress increases our need for pantothenic acid and, since we cannot store it, we need adequate intake every day. That’s why I always recommend a complete B-complex as the basis of my nutritional programs.

A low pantothenic acid coupled with high stress results in overtaxed adrenals and an increase in cortisol, which can lead to weight gain (particularly in your abdomen) and water retention. In fact, adequate pantothenic acid can balance your cortisol production in mild cases.

Potassium

  • Deficiency: Common in the elderly
  • Symptoms: Acne, constipation, depression, edema, excessive water consumption, fatigue, glucose intolerance, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, mental impairment, muscle weakness, nervousness, poor reflexes and heart palpitations
  • Recommended foods: Chard, button mushrooms, spinach, avocado papaya, lima beans, lentils, melons, bananas

The biggest problem with potassium is that the more sodium you consume, the more potassium you excrete. The key is balance. The only way to determine whether you have a deficiency or excess of potassium is via a blood test since the symptoms are identical regardless of which side you fall on.

Pyridoxine (B6)

  • Deficiency: 71% of male and 90% of female diets deficient
  • Symptoms: Acne, anemia, arthritis, eye inflammation, depression, dizziness, facial oiliness, fatigue, impaired wound healing, irritability, loss of appetite, loss of hair, mouth lesions, nausea and intertrigo (an inflammation or rash of the body folds – like under the breasts or stomach overhang)
  • Recommended foods: Bell peppers, turnip greens, spinach, tuna, banana, chicken breast, turkey breast

Vitamin B6 is the precursor for a coenzyme that participates in some 100 enzyme-reactions in amino acid, glucose and fat metabolism. It is, therefore, critical to metabolic health and energy production. It is also a co-factor in the absorption of magnesium. If you need it, you simply can’t get magnesium into your system. Again, I determine need based upon your blood chemistry and symptoms.

Riboflavin (B2)

  • Deficiency: Deficient in 30% of elderly Britons
  • Symptoms: Blurred vision, cataracts, depression, dermatitis, dizziness, hair loss, inflamed eyes, mouth lesions, nervousness, neurological symptoms (numbness, loss of sensation, “electric shock” sensations), seizures, sensitivity to light, sleepiness, weakness, neonatal jaundice, cataracts, anorexia/bulimia and cognitive function
  • Recommended foods: Mushrooms, calves’ liver, spinach, spelt, dairy products, eggs and buckwheat

Since riboflavin is water-soluble, there is little chance of an overdose. About the worst that can happen is your urine turns bright yellow as your body excretes what it doesn’t need.

Selenium

  • Deficiency: Average diet contains 50% of RDA
  • Symptoms: Growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, increased incidence of cancer, pancreatic insufficiency (inability to secrete adequate amounts of digestive enzymes), immune impairment, liver impairment, male sterility, thyroid hormone impairment
  • Recommended foods: Button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, cod, shrimp, snapper, tuna, halibut, wild-caught salmon (watch out for mercury and PCBs in seafood), 2 brazil nuts daily

Thiamin (B1)

  • Deficiency: Commonly deficient in the elderly
  • Symptoms: Confusion, constipation, digestive problems, irritability, loss of appetite, memory loss, nervousness, numbness of hands and feet, pain sensitivity, poor coordination, weakness, liver function impairment
  • Recommended foods: Asparagus, romaine lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, sunflower seeds, tuna, green peas, tomatoes, eggplant, Brussels sprouts

On your blood work, a vitamin B1 deficiency elevates the most sensitive of the liver hormones, Gamma Glutamyl Transferase (GGT). GGT is the first enzyme to elevate when liver cells are dying. Unfortunately, standard chemistry panels prescribed by medical doctors do not include this important marker. It is part of every blood test that I perform.

Vitamin A

  • Deficiency: 20% of diets deficient
  • Symptoms: Acne, dry hair, fatigue, growth impairment, insomnia, hyperkeratosis (thickening and roughness of skin), immune impairment, night blindness, weight loss
  • Recommended foods: Milk, eggs, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, kale, collard greens, chard, red bell peppers

This is one nutrient I watch carefully, particularly in the elderly. It is too easy to induce an overdose, resulting in muscle weakness and bone pain. The reason this happens is that vitamin A is stored in the liver and can accumulate over time. However, vitamin A is very important to eye health, so you definitely want to get adequate amounts.

Some nutritionists recommend beta-carotene as a substitute. The only problem with that approach is that you have to have a healthy gut to convert beta-carotene to its active form: vitamin A. Beta-carotene is found in orange foods; think squash, yams and cantaloupe, for example.

Vitamin B12

  • Deficiency: Serum levels low in 25% of hospital patients
  • Symptoms: Anemia, constipation depression, dizziness, fatigue, intestinal disturbances, headaches, irritability, loss of vibratory sensation, low stomach acid, mental disturbances, moodiness, mouth lesions, numbness, spinal cord degeneration
  • Recommended foods: Snapper, scallops, red meat (N.B. serious absorption issues when the stomach lacks sufficient intrinsic factor; very common in the elderly)

Vitamin B12 deficiency is the biggest challenge faced by vegetarians. There is no vitamin B12 in vegetables. Some nutritionists tout blue-green algae (aka Spirulina) as a source, but the amounts are miniscule and don’t correct the deficiency. I base this conclusion on the hundreds of blood tests I have performed on patients, many of whom are ingesting blue-green algae.

This problem is particularly severe in the elderly, who often have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor in the stomach. When you add vegetarianism or the avoidance of red meat to this scenario, you are simply asking for trouble. The neurologic symptoms are particularly severe and may lead to a mistaken diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, when simply taking B12 can turn the condition around.

Unfortunately, if allowed to progress unchecked, irreversible damage is done to the spinal cord leading to a very specific gait where the individual has to watch their feet to avoid falling. Also each foot “slaps” the floor, rather than having a typical heel/toe gait.

The vitamin B12 I prescribe is sublingual. You hold it under your tongue to allow the vitamin to absorb directly into the capillary blood under your tongue, rather than swallowing it.

Vitamin C

  • Deficiency: 20% to 50% of diets deficient
  • Symptoms: Bleeding gums, depression, easy bruising, impaired wound healing, irritability, joint pains, loose teeth, malaise, tiredness
  • Recommended foods: Parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, strawberries, oranges, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts

Although I do recommend buffered vitamin C, the best form is an organic vitamin C complex that retains all of the co-factors that aid both its absorption and function in the body.

Vitamin D

  • Deficiency: 62% of elderly women’s diets deficient
  • Symptoms: Burning sensation in mouth, diarrhea, insomnia, myopia, nervousness, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, rickets, scalp sweating
  • Recommended foods: Shrimp, milk, cod liver oil, eggs (you can also get Vitamin D from sensible sun exposure)

Recent research has revealed that vitamin D is essential to human health. Some of its multiple roles include: maintaining the health of bones and teeth; supporting the health of the immune system, brain and nervous system; regulating insulin levels and aiding in diabetes management; supporting lung function and heart health; and influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development. Pretty important, isn’t it?

You would think that living in So. Cal., there would be no problem with vitamin D levels. That would be wrong. After testing literally hundreds of individuals, I can assure you that vitamin D deficiency is extremely prevalent. I highly recommend you get your blood tested to determine if you need this critical nutrient.

Vitamin E

  • Deficiency: 23% of male and 15% of female diets deficient
  • Symptoms: Gait disturbances, poor reflexes, loss of position sense, loss of vibration sense, shortened red blood cell life
  • Recommended foods: Mustard greens, chard, sunflower seeds, turnip greens, almonds, spinach

The gamma form of vitamin E is critical to heart health. Since almost all vitamin E supplements are the synthetic d-alpha-tocopheral, there is no gamma in the supplements. Therefore, when research on vitamin E and heart health was conducted using d-alpha-tocopherol, it was doomed to failure. That is the source of the medical “fact” that vitamin E doesn’t promote heart health.

Vitamin K

  • Deficiency: Deficiency in pregnant women and newborns is common
  • Symptoms: Bleeding disorders
  • Recommended foods: Spinach, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, carrots, green string beans, asparagus, red bell peppers, strawberries, eggs, tomatoes, green peas

Zinc

  • Deficiency: 68% of diets deficient
  • Symptoms: Acne, amnesia, apathy, brittle nails, delayed sexual maturity, depression, diarrhea, eczema, fatigue, growth impairment, hair loss, high cholesterol levels, immune impairment, impotence, irritability, lethargy, loss of appetite, loss of sense of taste, low stomach acid, male infertility, memory impairment, night blindness, paranoia, white spots on nails, wound healing impairment
  • Recommended foods: Calves’ liver, mushrooms, spinach, beef tenderloin, pumpkin seeds, green peas

Studies done on mice have demonstrated that zinc deficient mothers passed zinc deficiency on to their offspring through 3 generations, even with supplementation. Since the vast majority of patients I have tested are zinc deficient, supplementation is very important.

It is even more critical for men, since it is a key component seminal fluid and men lose zinc with every ejaculation.

Another key issue to me, as a craniopath, is that zinc is required to produce cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). If you lack CSF, your cranial pump will never function properly, resulting in brain fog, poor memory and other neurotransmitter deficits. CSF carries hormones that coordinate your nervous system and allow your brain to function optimally.

In conclusion, thank you for reading this far. I hope you found this information helpful. I also want to encourage everyone to get your blood work done so that we can optimize your health by allowing me to prescribe the essential nutrients you need. I have access to a professional cooperative that allows me to prescribe blood work anywhere in the country. I will be setting up an account with them as soon as I get settled in Idaho. For those of you in Southern California, I will be maintaining my California license, so prescribing blood work will not be a problem. I can then provide you with the nutrients you need and consult with you by phone, if you have questions. I wish you a long and healthy life.

 

 

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Entry filed under: Heart Health, Vitamins + Supplements. Tags: , , , .

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