When you compare our lives today to the lives our ancestors led, it feels like we have it easy. We don't have to go out and find or hunt for every meal we eat. Most of us don't have to worry about predatory animals attacking us on a regular basis.
Considering that, doesn't it make you wonder how our ancestors ever managed to get all their essential vitamins and minerals?
The human body is a complex web that needs so many different vitamins and minerals to function well. As we juggle careers, families, and responsibilities on a daily basis, it's a serious challenge to plan our diet so we get all the nutrients we need. Even if you do, there's no guarantee your body will absorb and use those nutrients the way it should.
That's why so many of us have deficiencies. In fact, 31% of Americans either have or are at risk for one or more nutritional deficiencies. Here's what you need to know.
Symptoms of a Nutritional Deficiency
Seeing that shocking statistic, the natural next question is, "How do I know if I have a nutritional deficiency?"
The symptoms of a deficiency will vary from one nutrient to the next. After all, each vitamin or mineral has its own purpose in the body, so it makes sense that missing out on one would cause problems with that process.
There are some symptoms that appear with several nutrient deficiencies, though. These include:
- Ongoing or excessive fatigue
- Hair loss
- Getting sick often
- A drop in your memory, focus, or mental functioning
- Unexpected weight loss
- Changes in your appetite
- Mood swings or changes in your mood
While these are the most common symptoms, there are also a large number of unexpected symptoms and hidden hints for nutritional deficiencies.
Here's the scary part, though: in many cases, there are no symptoms at all. Even if you have symptoms, you may be used to them, and you don't realize that the way you're feeling isn't normal.
This is why it's so important to get tested for nutritional deficiencies.
How to Know if You Have a Nutritional Deficiency
Now that you know nutrient deficiencies can hide without showing any symptoms, you know why it's crucial to get tested on a regular basis. Even if you don't feel any symptoms, micronutrient deficiencies can have a serious impact on your health, especially if they continue for years or decades.
Some people think they can look at their diet to see if they have a nutritional deficiency. Even if you analyze everything you eat and see that you're getting enough of every vitamin and mineral, this isn't enough. Your body may not be absorbing certain nutrients the way it should, so you can be deficient even if you eat more than enough of a particular nutrient.
The only reliable way to know about your nutrient levels is to get a blood test. Different tests look for different nutrients, but you can get comprehensive results with a vitamin and mineral blood panel.
Getting this test on a regular basis can help you avoid countless health problems down the line. It allows you to know if you need to visit a doctor, adjust your diet, or both.
The Essential Vitamins and Minerals You Need
On top of eating an unbalanced diet, one of the most common mistakes people make is not realizing how many vitamins and minerals they need to think about. The most that people typically pay attention to is their iron, calcium, and potassium.
In reality, there are 27 essential vitamins and minerals that play a crucial part in keeping you healthy.
1. Folate (Vitamin B9)
If you haven't heard of folate, you've probably heard of folic acid. Folate is the natural dietary form of the vitamin, while folic acid is the man-made version.
Folate is essential for keeping your metabolism on track. It's also an important vitamin for cell growth, which means your entire body needs folate to heal and develop.
While it's important for everyone, folate is especially vital for women in their child-bearing years. A folate deficiency during pregnancy can cause problems in a baby's brain development, and to protect the baby, you need to start taking supplements before the pregnancy begins.
In nature, you can find carotene in many fruits and vegetables. It's especially plentiful in produce that is orange, yellow, or red.
Your body converts carotene into vitamin A, which is another essential vitamin for your health. Carotene is also an antioxidant, which means it protects your cells from one of the most severe threats to your health: cancer.
3. Vitamin A (Retinol)
While carotene helps to support your vitamin A levels, you can't rely on carotene alone. Vitamin A is one of the most crucial vitamins for your overall health.
Vitamin A supports healthy functioning in many of your vital organs, including your heart, lungs, and kidneys. It's also essential for a strong immune system, acute vision, and reproductive health.
4. Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
It goes by many names: vitamin B1, thiamin, and thiamine. Whatever you call it, B1 is a powerhouse for your health.
If you're a fan of carbs, vitamin B1 is the nutrient that allows you to convert those carbs to energy. It also lets your body process sugar, all while keeping your muscles, nerves, and heart running the way they should.
5. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Have you ever had one of those time periods when you're feeling tired and run down all the time, no matter how much sleep you get? Low levels of vitamin B2 could have been to blame.
This vitamin allows your body to break down carbs, proteins, and fats for energy, so if it's running low, you don't get the energy you need.
6. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
While some vitamins and minerals have very specific, niche functions, others impact almost every part of your body. Vitamin B3 is one of the latter.
Everyone needs vitamin B3, but it's especially crucial for preventing problems that tend to appear as you age. This includes mental decline, high cholesterol, and arthritis to name a few.
7. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
You've heard people call an essential element the "lifeblood" of a process. That expression emerged because blood is so vital to sustaining a healthy life, and vitamin B5 makes blood possible.
Your body uses vitamin B5 to produce red blood cells. Those red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your entire body.
8. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
When it comes to your brain and your mood, vitamin B6 is one of the most crucial vitamins you need.
This nutrient helps your brain function at its best, and in kids, it aids in brain development. Vitamin B6 also helps your body produce important mood-regulating hormones like norepinephrine and serotonin.
9. Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Many people have heard of biotin because it's so helpful for growing your hair and nails. It does far more than that, though.
Also called vitamin B7, biotin allows your body to process amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), carbs, and fats and put them to good use.
10. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
A vitamin B12 deficiency is very common, and it's one of the most frequent reasons people feel tired and weak.
If you don't get enough B12, you could develop a type of anemia that causes fatigue. Vitamin B12 is also important for keeping your blood cells and nerves in good shape.
11. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to strengthen your immune system. That's why so many people take it when they think they're getting a cold or flu.
On top of your immune health, vitamin C also helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth, and it allows you to absorb the iron you need as well.
12. Vitamin D: 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (D2, D3)
You've probably heard of vitamin D, but did you know there are different types?
Vitamins D2 and D3 are similar and a single test will check your levels for both of them. They're both essential for keeping your bones healthy and your immune system on point.
13. Vitamin D, 1,25-Dihydroxy
Beyond vitamins D2 and D3, you also need to know your overall vitamin D level. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and use it to keep your bones healthy. It also lowers your risk for certain types of cancer as well as heart disease and depression.
14. Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
Your body is constantly on the defense against something, from common colds to the cell damage that leads to cancer.
Vitamin E is essential for fighting off all of it. It keeps your immune system in tip-top shape, and as an antioxidant, it battles the free radicals that can cause cancer.
15. Vitamin K
Blood clotting is a crucial function in your body. If your blood doesn't clot well, you're at risk for bleeding too much, even to life-threatening levels. If you clot too quickly, you can form blood clots in your veins and arteries, which can lead to strokes and more.
Vitamin K is essential for maintaining the perfect balance and keeping your blood clotting at the ideal level.
Iron is one of the most well-known nutrients your body needs. It is essential in your body's ability to carry oxygen throughout your body.
Iron deficiencies are common, especially among women, and they're a frequent reason people feel weak and tired.
Phosphorous is one of those nutrients that serves many functions throughout the body.
It allows your kidneys to filter waste efficiently and keep toxins out of your body. In addition to this, it's a vital component of healthy bones and teeth.
18. Sodium & Chloride
While some people vilify sodium, the fact is that you can't cut it too low. It's an essential mineral in your diet because it allows your body to retain the water we need to function, on top of keeping your muscles functioning and performing other crucial tasks.
Chloride is a similar mineral that works alongside sodium. It keeps your body's acid levels at the right balance, and it lets your cells get the water they need.
Potassium is one of the most underrated nutrients you need in your diet. It's one of the most vital ways to keep your blood pressure in check and lower your risk for strokes and heart attacks.
On top of this, it allows your body to balance its fluid levels, and it keeps your muscles and nerves in working order.
If you've never heard of choline, you're not alone, but it's an unsung hero in your body.
Choline helps to keep your cell membranes intact, so your cells remain strong and healthy. It's also a major ingredient in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which serves many crucial functions in your brain.
Most people know that calcium is important for bone health, but that's only part of the story.
In addition, calcium helps your blood to clot appropriately and your heart to maintain a strong, healthy beat.
Surprise! You probably didn't realize copper was an essential mineral for your body, but it is.
Copper works with iron to build red blood cells, which are vital for every part of your body. It also keeps your immune system in shape and lends a hand id several other bodily functions.
You may know iodine as the solution doctors apply to your skin to prevent infections, but it serves other functions in your body too.
This mineral is especially crucial for supporting your thyroid gland: the gland that controls the hormones throughout your body.
Magnesium is another one of those minerals that aren't known for one specific job but many of them.
It plays a role in keeping your muscles and nerves functioning at their best, as well as regulating your blood sugar and even making DNA.
Much like vitamin C, zinc is best known for the support it lends to your immune system. It's also important for your body's ability to make DNA as well as natural proteins.
If you're trying to have children, selenium is one of the most crucial minerals for your reproductive system.
It's important for everyone, though, because it protects your body from free radicals and makes sure your thyroid gland is doing its job.
Chances are that you've never heard of molybdenum, but it's been hard at work in your body.
This mineral helps your body process and get rid of all the toxins it takes in throughout the day.
Keeping Your Vitamins and Minerals in Check
To keep your body functioning at its best, there are so many essential vitamins and minerals that need to be in balance. When it comes down to it, the only way to know if your body has what it needs is to get a blood test.
To take the next steps toward better health today, learn more about nutrient testing and order your first blood test online.
We offer these 27 essential vitamin and mineral lab tests as part of our selection of 1,500 lab tests, and we provide explanations on each biomarker. You can select your lab tests, order directly online, choose a convenient patient service center near you, and review your test results typically in 1 to 2 days after your blood is collected. Take charge of your health and get tested today at ultalabtests.com.