Did you know the cause of nutrient deficiencies can go deeper than just dietary lack?
Let's talk NUTRIENT DEPLETERS and how they could be affecting your vitamin & mineral status!
Vitamins & minerals are essential nutrients required for maintaining the proper function of several hundred reactions in the body. For example, thanks to these nutrients, we’re able to do things like:
maintain bone strength
optimize skin health
convert food into energy
...and hundreds of other functions which keep us alive and well!
Because of this, it's important we do what we can to not only protect our existing nutrient stores, but also improve the absorption of vitamins & minerals from future foods we eat!
Below are 6 common NUTRIENT DEPLETERS + the problems & SOLUTIONS for each.
1. CHRONIC STRESS
Problem: When under chronic stress, the body uses vitamins & minerals more rapidly to meet the increased needs of the metabolism. Stress can further deplete nutrients by increasing the excretion of certain vitamins & minerals.
Solution: In addition to increasing the intake of nutrient-rich foods to replenish vitamin & mineral losses, practicing relaxation techniques can help get the body into a "rest & digest" state. This not only helps prevent stress-related deficiencies but also promotes better nutrient absorption too.
2. POOR SOIL QUALITY
Problem: Soil erosion and the long-term effects of conventional farming practices such as compaction and pesticide over-use have led to mineral-depleted soil qualities, leaving our food with a significantly decreased nutrient profile.
Solution: To protect soil quality, organic farms use practices such as natural biopesticide use, plant biodiversity + rotation, cover crops, and natural composting. By buying organic food whenever feasible, you can help support soil integrity and directly increase the nutrient availability of the foods you eat.
3. LOW STOMACH ACID
Problem: Low levels of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) hinder the digestion and absorption of vitamins & minerals from food. This not only leads to nutrient losses but can also affect gut health by causing an overgrowth of bad bacteria which further interrupts nutrient absorption.
Solution: Identify + address the underlying root cause(s) of low stomach acid (e.g., stress at meals, antacids, H. pylori). You can also work to increase your stomach acid output by doing things such as eating in a relaxed environment, drinking 1 tsp. of raw apple cider vinegar + 1/2 cup warm water before meals, or trying an HCl supplement with meals if necessary.
4. HEAVY ALCOHOL INTAKE
Problem: Heavy/high-risk* alcohol use (>4 alcoholic drinks/day for men & >3 alcoholic drinks/day for women) can cause damage to the organs involved in the absorption of vitamins & minerals. This can more specifically cause deficiencies in several B vitamins, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Solution: In addition to limiting regular alcohol consumption to below high-risk levels, taking action to improve gut health can help reduce inflammation and damage caused by heavy alcohol intake. Further, ensuring to eat plenty of nutritious whole foods is important in replacing lost nutrients.
5. EXTREME CALORIE RESTRICTIONS
Problem: Extreme and/or chronic calorie restriction is a stressor on the body that can in itself lead to nutrient losses. Further, some diets encourage a drastic reduction/removal of certain macronutrients, such as fat, which is required for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E & K, or entire food groups, such as fruit, which is an excellent source of vitamins & minerals.
Solution: Even when in a realistic calorie deficit, ensure you're eating
enough food to maintain optimal vitamin & mineral levels. In addition, instead of opting for processed low-calorie options, prioritize simple whole foods. For example, skipping the sugar-free artificial syrup and reaping the nutritional benefits of pure maple syrup!
6. CERTAIN MEDICATIONS
Problem: Long-term use of certain medications such as laxatives, diuretics, and anticonvulsants may affect vitamin & mineral status by changing the way some nutrients are absorbed, excreted, or metabolized.
Solution: Discuss with your primary care physician the possibility of any potential vitamin & mineral interactions your current medications may have. Oftentimes, supplementation may be recommended to prevent the risk of deficiencies.
While it can sometimes feel overwhelming to make adjustments for your health, know you can work through changes slowly, one at a time ― at a pace that works well for YOUR LIFE.
Remember, health & wellness is a journey, not a destination...so find joy in the ride while doing your best and not worrying about the rest.
Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. It's always recommended to consult with your primary care physician before beginning use of any form of supplementation.