Did you know almost 10% of people in the United States have nutrition deficiencies? The most common deficiencies are iron, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
You can have nutritional deficiencies and not even realize it. For this reason, nutrition lab tests are essential tools for managing your health.
When you get nutrition tests, you also get insight into improving your health the right way. Keep reading this guide to learn more about nutritional deficiencies and nutrition lab tests.
What are Nutritional Deficiencies
There are many nutrients we take in daily that are important for our overall health. Most of the time, our body can get these nutrients from the foods that we eat.
But when your typical diet lacks in fruits and vegetables and is high in sugar and saturated fats, then nutritional deficiencies become more common than you realize.
Different health problems can cause a diet that is lacking in vitamins. Kidney disease or celiac disease can cause you not to absorb the right amount of vitamins and minerals.
Food intolerances due to inflammatory bowel disease or a problem with malabsorption in your gut can lead to big problems with nutrition. There are types of nutritional deficiencies that lead to disease, including:
- A lack of calcium can lead to rickets and osteoporosis
- An iodine deficiency leads to a goiter
- Iron deficiency can cause iron deficiency anemia
- Zinc deficiencies can cause stunted growth
- Vitamin C deficiencies can cause scurvy
It's also important to remember that every person is an individual, and some people may require more of certain vitamins to prevent disease than others.
Risk Factors for a Nutritional Deficiency
Surprisingly, nutritional deficiencies can happen to anyone and aren't specific to certain countries or locations. Risk factors for nutritional deficiencies include:
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Drinking heavily
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Chronic illness
Your socioeconomic status is also a risk factor. Many people cannot afford proper nutrition and end up eating alone.
What Causes a Nutritional Deficiency
Any deficiency in vitamins or minerals can cause a nutritional deficiency, but the basic causes are an inadequate intake or absorption of nutrients and vitamins.
This can be for many reasons, but the most common causes for this include:
- Being vegan, vegetarian, or following a strict diet
- Overcooking your food constantly
- Medical conditions that interfere with vitamin absorption
- Drinking alcohol can lead to a vitamin C deficiency
- Taking certain medications like antacids and seizure medications
Smoking can also decrease vitamin C as it tends to decrease the amount your body can absorb.
Symptoms of a Nutritional Deficiency
Eating well-balanced meals has benefits beyond maintaining a healthy weight. Eating a balanced diet keeps your body healthy and able to fight off disease and illness.
The symptoms and signs of a nutritional deficiency include:
- Brittle hair and nails
- Mouth ulcers or sores in the corners of your mouth
- Bleeding gums
- Trouble seeing at night
- Dry and scaly skin patches
- Hair loss
Nutritional deficiencies also can cause a condition called restless leg syndrome. This is a nerve condition that causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in your legs, along with a constant urge to move them. The link is not completely understood, but there seems to be a relationship between blood iron levels and restless leg syndrome.
Diagnosing a Nutritional Deficiency
If you suspect you might have nutritional deficiencies, it's important to make an appointment to see your doctor.
Your doctor will ask you about your past medical history, your current symptoms, and do a physical exam. Most likely, your doctor will order bloodwork to assess your current nutritional state and check for any deficiencies.
Over time, imbalances in your nutrition can lead to weight loss, loss of muscle mass, and even bone density. For this reason, blood tests are the most powerful tool to help identify nutritional problems early on and prevent disease onset.
Treatment for a Nutritional Deficiency
Treatment depends on if your nutritional deficiency is minor or more severe. Many times a simple change in eating habits can correct any deficiencies you might have.
People with iron deficiency anemia are often advised to eat more meat, poultry, eggs, and iron-fortified grains and cereals. If your deficiency is more severe, you may be referred to see a registered dietician and asked to keep a journal of the food you're eating each day.
A dietician will go over your diet in detail and help you to modify your habits by making recommendations based on your needs. Many times you'll be asked to add fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet.
Some deficiencies need more than just a change in diet alone, and you may need to take a vitamin or mineral supplement. Your dietician will work together to determine how often you should take your supplements and if they're safe, along with any medications you may be taking.
Lab Tests to Screen for Nutritional Deficiencies
Ulta Lab Tests has a huge selection of nutrition and vitamin panels you can choose from, depending on your needs.
One of the best panels to start with is a vitamins and minerals panel. This panel includes a group of tests that measures important blood, vitamin, and mineral levels. A complete blood count (CBC) checks the levels of your blood cells, platelets, white blood cells and will detect conditions like anemia.
Next is a comprehensive metabolic profile (CMP) which measures your protein level, electrolyte levels, calcium, kidney, and liver function. This test gives a good indication of nutrition by checking how your organs are functioning.
Having a low iron level can contribute to health problems like anemia and restless leg syndrome. You'll need to have your total iron level checked to rule out conditions like iron deficiency.
Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Vitamin D levels should also be evaluated. Vitamin B is found in milk, eggs, red meat, fish, and is essential for normal red blood cells. In addition, low zinc levels can cause slow wound healing and a decrease in immune system function. And Vitamin D is essential for the overall health of your bones.
Normal magnesium levels are critical for almost all of the chemical processes in your body and keep your bones strong. Magnesium is also essential for normal heart function and blood pressure regulation.
Other Lab Tests
Omega-3 and 6 are essential fatty acids that your body needs to maintain its daily functions. Your body doesn't make these fatty acids on its own, so you must consume them in your diet.
You can find Omega-3 and in foods like salmon, nuts, seeds, and sunflower oil. These fatty acids are essential for heart health and to lower your overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
Iodine is an essential element that your body needs to make thyroid hormones. Measuring your iodine level is a great way to see if your dietary intake is enough. And vitamin K is essential for healthy bones, tissues, and normal blood clotting.
FAQS About Nutritional Deficiencies
Did you know the foods you eat can have a huge impact on chronic health conditions? For example, if you have arthritis, you should avoid processed foods, and saturated fats, increasing the pain you experience.
When you have arthritis, certain foods and nutrients can be beneficial, like:
- Beans are full of fiber which help lower inflammation in your body
- Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for heart health
- Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants
- Nuts and seeds improve inflammation
Where is a good resource to find what nutrients to take in each day? It's a good idea first to take a look at the dietary guidelines established for Americans. You can check these guidelines for new recommendations for infants, toddlers, pregnant women, adults, and older adults.
Can magnesium prevent headaches? Some studies suggest that people who consume more magnesium in their diet may decrease their chances of getting migraines. You should talk to your doctor before trying this, as taking too much magnesium can cause health problems.
Nutrition Lab Tests With Ulta Lab Tests
Ulta Lab Tests offers highly accurate tests, allowing you to make the best decisions about your health.
Here are a few great things for you to love about Ulta Lab Tests:
- You'll always get secure and confidential results
- You never need health insurance
- You don't need a physician's referral
- Always affordable pricing
- A 100% satisfaction guarantee every time you order
If you order your nutritional lab tests today and your results will be provided to you securely online within 24 to 48 hours in most cases.
It's time to take charge of your health and visit Ulta Lab Tests today!