Nutrient Functions and Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms – Part 1

Nutrient deficiencies aren’t a thing of the past, reserved for sailors trapped at sea. It is possible, even common, to lack some of the essential nutrients your body needs to function optimally.

Nutrient deficiencies alter bodily functions and processes at the most basic cellular level. These processes include water balance, enzyme function, nerve signaling, digestion, and metabolism. Resolving these deficiencies is important for optimal growth, development, and function.

Nutrient deficiencies can also lead to diseases. For example, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies can cause osteopenia or osteoporosis, two conditions marked by brittle bones. Inadequate iron can cause anemia, which zaps your energy.

Telltale symptoms are usually the first clue that you are low in one or more important vitamins or minerals. Here’s how to recognize some common nutrient deficiencies.

Vitamin E
Deficiency Potential: Very Common
What it does: Antioxidant, regulates oxidation reactions, stabilizes cell mebrane, immunce function, protects against cardiovascular disease, cataracts, macular degeneration.
Where it’s found: Wheat germ, liver, eggs, nuts, seeds, cold-pressed vegetable oils, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, avocados, asparagus.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Skin, hair, rupturing of red blood cells, anemia, bruising, PMS, hot flashes, eczema, psoriasis, cataracts, wound healing, muscle weakness, sterility.
Deficiency Potential: Very Common
What it does: Bones, teeth, helps heart, nerves, muscles, body systems work properly, needs other nutrients to function.
Where it’s found: Dairy, wheat/soyflour, molasses, Brewer’s yeast, Brazil nuts, broccoli, cabbage, dark leafy greens, hazelnuts, oysters, sardines, canned salmon.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Osteoporosis, osteomalacia, osteoarthritis, muscle cramps, irritability, acute anxiety, colon cancer risk.
Deficiency Potential: Common
What it does: Assists insulin function, increases fertility, carbohydrate/fat metabolism, essential for fetal growth/development.
Where it’s found: Supplementation, Brewer’s yeast, whole grains, seafood, green beans, broccoli, prunes, nuts, potatoes, meat.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, decreased fertility.
Deficiency Potential: Very Common
What it does: 300 Biochemical reactions, muscle/nerve function, heart rhythm, immune system, strong bones, regulates calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D.
Where it’s found: Green vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, whole unprocessed grains.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, cramps, nubness, tingling, seizures, heart spasms, personality changes, heart rhythm.
Deficiency Potential: Common
What it does: Antioxidant, works with vitamin E, immune function, prostaglandin production.
Where it’s found: Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, liver, butter, cold water fish, shellfish, garlic, whole grains, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Destruction to heart/pancreas, sore muscles, fragility of red blood cells, immune system.
Deficiency Potential: Most Common
What it does: Supports enzymes, immune system, wound healing, taste/smell, DNA synthesis, normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence.
Where it’s found: Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, dairy.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Growth retardation, hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, eye & skin leasions, loss of appetite, taste, weight loss, wound healing, mental lethargy.
Co Q10
Deficiency Potential: Common
What it does: Powerful antioxidant, stops oxidation of LDL cholesterol, energy production, important to heart, liver and kidneys.
Where it’s found: Oily fish, organ meats, whole grains.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, angina, mitral valve prolapse, fatigue, gingivitis, immune system, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia.
Deficiency Potential: Less Common
What it does: Energy, heart function, oxidize amino acids for energy, metabolize ketones.
Where it’s found: Red meat, dairy, fish, poultry, tempeh (fermented soybeans), wheat, asparagus, avocados, peanut butter.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Elevated cholesterol, liver function, muscle weakness, reduced energy, impaired glucose control.
N-Acetyl Cyseine (NAC) & Glutatione
Deficiency Potential: Most Common
What it does: Glutathione production, lowers homocysteine, lipoprotein (a), heal lungs, inflammation, decrease muscle fatigue, liver detoxification, immune function.
Where it’s found: Meats, ricotta, cottage cheese, yogurt, wheat germ, granola, oat flakes.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Free radical overload, elevated homocysteine, cancer risk, cataracts, macular degeneration, immune function, toxin elimination.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Deficiency Potential: Common
What it does: Energy, blood flow to nerves, glutathione levels in brain, insulin sensitivity, effectiveness of vitamins C, E, antioxidants.
Where it’s found: Supplementation, spinach, broccoli, beef, Brewer’s yeast, some organ meats.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Diabetic neuropathy, reduced muscle mass, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, failure to thrive, brain atrophy, high lactic acid.
Deficiency Potential: Less Common
What it does: Bone formation, involved in healing process, energy production, hair and skin coloring, taste sensitivity, stimulates iron absorption, helps metabolize several fatty acids.
Where it’s found: Oysters, seeds, dark leafy vegetables, organ meats, dried legumes, whole grain breads, nuts, shellfish, chocolate, soybeans, oats, blackstrap molasses.
Deficiency Symptoms and problems: Osteoporosis, anemia, baldness, diarrhea, general weakness, impaired respiratory function, myelopathy, decreased skin pigment, reduced resistance to infection.