Fruit & Vegetable Series Part 3: How to Fill the Gaps in Your Diet and Avoid Vitamin Deficiency
What are Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies?
We know that our food is not as nutritional as it once was, mainly as a result of changes in agricultural practices which have degraded the vitamin content of our fruits and vegetables in exchange for increased yield. Changes in our modern lifestyle have also helped contribute to deficiencies in our intake and absorption of vitamins and minerals. And if you have low absorption rates of minerals and vitamins then you may be low on the following:
- Fat-soluble vitamins, including D, K, A, and E, which could lead to bone abnormalities, blood clotting problems, visual and skin changes, and neurological problems, respectively.
- Water-soluble vitamins, including C and B (1- thiamine, 12 and folate)–easy bruising, dry skin, brittle nails, anemia, hair loss, and fatigue could be the result.
- Minerals, including selenium, zinc, copper, and iron, the lack of which could contribute to problems related to anemia, hair loss, dandruff, and a variety of other issues.
According to dietitian Mira Ilic, RD, LD, “Certain medical conditions, economic or demographic factors that influence access to food, life stages and special diets can increase the risk for vitamin insufficiencies that can compromise your health” (5 Vitamins You May Need More of and Where To Get Them, 2020).
What are Important Vitamins?
Although this article is not exhaustive as to the list of all vitamins that a person requires, we do focus on a number of the most important ones.
- Vitamin A—Apart from its benefits for vision, vitamin A is also important for healthy skin and immunity. It can normally be obtained through the consumption of green vegetables and orange or yellow vegetables and fruits. Vitamin A supplements can be useful but should be taken with caution as overdosing can be toxic.
- Vitamin B12—B12 assists with keeping nerve and blood cells healthy. This becomes more important with age because as you get older you have less acid to break down proteins and release B12 from the food you consume. It usually is not a problem if you have a diet that regularly includes fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. However, vegans and vegetarians may be at risk here and should consider taking B12 supplements.
- Folate and Folic Acid—This includes vitamin B9 which is important in red blood cell formation and for women during the first three weeks of pregnancy. Taking a supplement may be worth considering because it can be difficult for some people to get the daily recommended amount of folate through foods alone, like leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, melons, strawberries, and legumes such as dried beans, lentils, and peas.
- Vitamin D—Risk factors for low levels of vitamin D include living at high latitudes, high levels of air pollution, dense cloud covering, clothing that always covers your skin, and darker skin pigmentation. This is because, unlike other vitamins, our main source of vitamin D is not food — it’s the sun, hence why it is often called the sunshine vitamin! It is important to get sufficient levels of vitamin D because it contributes to healthy bones and teeth and deficiency has even been linked to certain cancers and heart disease. Therefore, if you live under conditions as described above it is worthwhile considering taking a supplement. Vitamin D-rich food also includes orange juice, milk, salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, mushrooms, and whole eggs.
- Vitamin B6—Many people do not reach the recommended amount of B6 from their diet alone, and older people in particular have a higher incidence of B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 is important for regulating sleep, appetite, and mood. It plays a key role in cognitive abilities and immune function and also helps you make red blood cells. Apart from supplements, it can be absorbed through foods like meats, whole grains, vegetables, bananas, potatoes, and nuts.
So, Do We Need Supplements?
The short answer is—No! Not if you live in the tropics where there is lots of sunshine and where you can get hold of all the foods mentioned above regularly AND if you are sure that it is cultivated properly and contains all the nutrients that are needed...
Tricky? Thought so. At the core of Nature’s Craft it is our belief that there should be a symbiotic relationship between consuming good and healthy food and taking supplements. The point of dietary supplements is just that - to supplement your diet. In other words, our products are designed to fill in the nutritional gaps that lead to health problems for so many people, but not to replace a healthy diet altogether. And with our vitamins, you can always rest assured that you are getting a meticulously designed, research backed formula which is made from top-quality natural ingredients and rigorously tested in 3rd party labs.
5 Vitamins You May Need More of and Where To Get Them. (2020). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-vitamins-you-might-be-missing/
Dietary Supplements: Make Sure You Get the Benefits. (2020). KnowYourOTCs.Org. https://www.knowyourotcs.org/dietary-supplements-make-sure-get-benefits/Wiginton, K. (n.d.). Pick the Right Vitamins and Supplements for You. Web MD. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/what-vitamin-should-i-take#3