Did you know that nearly 10% of people living in the U.S. have nutritional deficiencies? The most common of these deficiencies include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
Unfortunately, a person can have a nutritional deficiency and not even realize it, which is why nutritional lab tests are essential when it comes to managing your health. When you get a nutritional test, you gain insight into ways to improve your health the right way.
Read on to find out more about nutritional deficiencies and how nutrition lab tests can help.
What is a Nutritional Deficiency?
Daily, we take in many different nutrients, which are essential to our overall health (in the right quantities). Most of the time, our body gets these nutrients from the foods we eat. However, if your diet lacks fruits and vegetables and is high in sugars and saturated fats, then a nutritional deficiency can easily develop.
Different health problems can arise when a diet is lacking in vitamins. Conditions such as celiac disease or kidney disease can cause you not to absorb the right amount of minerals and vitamins. Food intolerances caused by inflammatory bowel disease or problems with malabsorption in your gut could lead to big problems with nutrition.
There are a few types of nutritional deficiencies that could lead to disease, including:
- Goiter, which is caused by an iodine deficiency
- Rickets and Osteoporosis, which are caused by a lack of calcium
- Stunted growth, which is caused by deficiencies in zinc
- Anemia, which is caused by iron deficiencies
- Scurvy, which could result from deficiencies in vitamin C
It’s also important to remember that since every person is a unique individual, some people might require more of a certain group of vitamins to help in preventing disease than others.
Risk Factors in Nutritional Deficiency
Nutritional deficiencies can affect just about anyone, and they aren't specific to a certain location or country. Some of the common risk factors for nutritional deficiencies include:
- Heavy drinking
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Chronic illness
- Diarrhea and vomiting
The socio-economic status of a person is also a risk factor. Many people can't afford proper nutrition and will end up with diets that lack the necessary vitamins and minerals.
What is the Cause of Nutritional Deficiency?
Any deficiency in minerals or vitamins could lead to a nutritional deficiency, though the basic causes are an inadequate absorption or intake of vitamins and nutrients. This can be a result of many reasons, though the common ones include:
- Being vegetarian, vegan, or following a strict diet
- Constantly overcooking your food
- Drinking alcohol, which could lead to a vitamin C deficiency
- Medical conditions that interrupt the absorption of vitamins
- Intake of certain medications, like seizure and antacid medications
- Smoking, which decreases the vitamin C content in the body and limits the amount the body can absorb
Symptoms of Nutritional Deficiency
Eating balanced meals comes with plenty of benefits beyond maintaining a healthy weight. It helps to keep your body healthy and strong enough to fight off illness and disease. The following are some signs and symptoms of a nutritional deficiency:
- Bleeding gums
- Brittle nails and hair
- Mouth ulcers and/or sore in the corners of the mouth
- Scaly and dry skin patches
- Trouble sleeping at night
- Hair loss
Nutritional deficiencies can also cause a condition referred to as restless leg syndrome. This is a condition of the nerves that cause uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in your legs, as well as a constant urge to move them. While the link is yet to be comprehensively understood, there seems to be a relationship between restless leg syndrome and blood iron levels.
Nutritional Deficiency Diagnosis
If you suspect a possible nutritional deficiency, you should make an appointment with your doctor. They will ask about your past medical history, the symptoms you’re experiencing, and they may do a physical exam. Your doctor will most likely order blood work to evaluate your current nutritional state and look for any deficiencies.
Keep in mind that imbalances in your nutrition could lead to loss of muscle mass, weight loss, and even loss of bone density. This is why getting blood tests is essential for identifying nutritional problems early and preventing the onset of disease.
Treating Nutritional Deficiency
The right treatment for you will depend on whether the deficiency is minor or severe. In many cases, a simple change in eating habits can easily correct any deficiencies you may have.
For iron deficiency, patients are often advised to eat more eggs, poultry, meat, and iron-fortified cereals and grains. If the deficiency is more severe, you might be referred to consult a registered dietician and keep a record journal of the foods you eat every day. The dietician will evaluate the diet in detail and help you modify your habits by making recommendations depending on your needs. In most cases, you will be asked to add vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your diet.
Some deficiencies will need more than just changing the diet alone, and you might be asked to take mineral or vitamin supplements. Your dietician will work with you to determine how often you need to take your supplements and if they are safe to take with the medications you might be taking.
Lab Tests for Screening Nutritional Deficiencies
Ulta Lab Tests offers a large variety of vitamin and nutrition panels that you can choose from based on your personal needs.
One of the best panels groups you can start with is the vitamin and minerals panels. It includes a group of tests meant to measure important blood, mineral, and vitamin levels. A complete blood count (CBC) will check the levels of your blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets and will also detect conditions like anemia.
Another great panel is the comprehensive metabolic profile (CMP), which is meant to measure your protein and electrolyte levels, along with calcium, kidney, and liver function. The CMP test gives a good indication of your nutrition status by checking how well your organs are functioning.
Having low iron levels may contribute to health issues like restless leg syndrome and anemia. You will need to have your total iron levels checked to rule out conditions like iron deficiency.
Vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin B12 levels also need to be evaluated. Vitamin B 12 is found in red meat, milk, fish, eggs, etc., and is essential for maintaining normal red blood cells. Additionally, low zinc levels could lead to slow wound healing and a lower strength immune function. Vitamin D is vital for the overall health of your bones.
Normal magnesium levels are critical for nearly all chemical processes in the body, and they help keep the bones strong. Magnesium is also vital for normal heart function and the regulation of blood pressure.
Other Lab Tests
Omega 3 and 6 are essential fatty acids to the body as they help maintain daily functions. Since the body doesn’t make them on its own, you must consume them in your diet. Some of the rich sources of omega-3 are nuts, salmon, sunflower, and seeds oil. These fatty acids are important for maintaining a healthy heart, and they lower your overall risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Iodine is important in your body as it helps the body make thyroid hormones. Measuring your body’s iodine level is a good way to establish whether you are getting enough iodine from your diet. Vitamin K is essential for healthy tissues, bones, and normal blood clotting.
FAQs on Nutritional Deficiencies
Did you know that your dietary intake has a huge impact on chronic health conditions? For instance, if you have arthritis, you should avoid saturated fats and processed foods to minimize the pain you experience. On the other hand, certain foods can be beneficial when treating arthritis. These include:
- Beans - these are full of fiber, which helps to lower inflammation in the body
- Fruits and vegetables - these contain antioxidants
- Fish - contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for a healthy heart
- Nuts and seeds - these help to improve inflammation
Where can I find a good resource to find what kind of nutrients I should take every day?
It’s wise to first take a look at the established dietary guidelines for Americans. You can look at these guidelines for new recommendations for toddlers, infants, adults, pregnant women, and elderly adults.
Can magnesium help prevent headaches?
Some studies suggest that consuming more magnesium in your diet could help lower your chances of getting migraines. However, we recommend talking to your doctor before trying this since taking too much magnesium can also lead to health problems.
Order Nutrition Lab Tests with Ulta Lab Tests
At Ulta Lab Tests, we offer accurate and reliable tests, enabling you to make the best decisions about your health. The following are some of the things you will love about Ulta Lab Tests:
- You don’t need health insurance
- Your results are always accurate, secure, and confidential
- The pricing is affordable, with a 100% satisfaction guarantee
- You don’t need a referral from a physician
- Your results are available within 24 to 48 hours for most tests
Take charge of your health and visit Ulta Lab Tests today!