9 Common Nutrient Deficiencies and How to Recognize Them


9 Common Nutrient Deficiencies and How to Recognize Them

Balanced nutrition is essential – it involves the correct consumption of macro and micronutrients. Most importantly, It helps maintain a healthy and functioning body and brain.

And while a wholesome diet will contain sufficient nutrients, the Western diet is still witnessing a lack of certain nutrients and minerals. But would you be able to recognize when you’re suffering from one? We discuss the 9 most common nutrient deficiencies and tell you some warning signs to keep an eye out for.

What are nutrient deficiencies?

Nutrients are required to carry out numerous bodily functions, provide energy and facilitate chemical processes. Nutrient deficiencies refer to low levels of one or more nutrients, which can result in illness.

Just as there are different types of nutrient deficiencies, they can arise for many reasons. Not consuming a balanced diet is the principal cause. Certain medications and pre-existing conditions can impact the absorption of nutrients. Pregnancy can also bring about nutritional inadequacies due to the increase in the required intake of the mother and the fetus.

Common nutrient deficiencies and signs to detect them

Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America are calcium, iron, and vitamin D. Unexplained lethargy, brittle teeth and hair including brain fog can be an indication that your diet isn’t on track. For some deficiencies such as Vitamin B12, the signs are subtle and can be difficult to detect. Although the literature is lacking, it has often been said that cravings and nutrient deficiencies are linked.

1. Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that is vital for several critical functions in the body. From oxygen transportation, and energy production to neurological functioning, it’s safe to say that this mineral is crucial for overall health! Iron is required for blood production and is a major component of hemoglobin. The majority of it is typically stored in these red blood cells (about 70% in fact.) It’s crucial for the transfer of oxygen and the removal of carbon dioxide from the body.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, impacting more than 1.2 billion people worldwide. In the US, 30% of menstruating women experience this deficiency as well as more than 40% of young, pregnant women. It is also one of the most common nutritional deficits following bariatric surgery and levels should be monitored.

How to spot it: Extreme fatigue, weakness, brittle nails, pallid skin, dizziness and lightheadedness.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D has many important functions. Perhaps the most important is its bone-fortifying properties. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus. Without a sufficient level, bones can become brittle and muscles can weaken.

According to studies, vitamin D deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder among obese individuals.

How to spot it: Symptoms may be subtle, so it’s not always the easiest deficiency to diagnose.
Muscle and bone pain and muscle weakness are hints. Anxiety and depression-like symptoms are often associated with low levels. Vitamin D has also been associated with nutrient deficiencies that cause hair loss.

3. Iodine

Iodine is an essential micronutrient that plays a big role in normal thyroid functioning and regulating metabolism. Not only that, but it supports cognitive *function* and hormonal balance.

How to spot it: Severe swelling of the thyroid gland (called a goiter), unexpected weight gain and extreme fatigue are some tell-tale signs that you are experiencing an Iodine deficiency.

4. Vitamin A

Vitamin A (also known as retinol) plays a major role in forming and maintaining healthy skin and teeth and promotes healthy vision and cell membranes. It stimulates the production of white blood cells, therefore aiding in overall immunity.

Typically, the vast majority of people who follow a Western diet do not need to worry about deficiency. It is however more prevalent in developing countries.

How to spot it: Night blindness, dry skin and dry eyes are some of the main symptoms of a lack of this fat-soluble vitamin.

5. Vitamin B12

Also known as cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is required to ensure healthy red blood cells and a functioning nervous system.

According to research, more than 80% of vegetarians and vegans may be lacking Vitamin B12 as it is commonly found in animal products. As we age, absorption decreases which points to elderly people being susceptible to a deficiency.

Consuming a sufficient amount of B12 post-bariatric surgery is vitally important. The body’s ability to absorb the micronutrient is often impacted. Therefore, it is highly recommended that this bariatric vitamin be introduced to the diet in the form of a supplement.

How to spot it: Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, weakness, diarrhea.
These symptoms will often worsen and intensify over time.

6. Calcium

The question is: what ISN’T calcium needed for?

Required for heart contraction, blood coagulation, bone health and strength. Calcium is involved in various processes – it acts as a signalling molecule which is vital in overseeing a plethora of bodily functions.

How to spot it: Fatigue, fragile nails, poor dental health, muscle spams and cramps, abnormal cardiac rhythm,

7. Magnesium

Magnesium is another key mineral for the body. Involved in over 300 enzyme reactions and essential for bone and teeth structure and nervous system regulation, it’s important for multiple physiological processes.

How to spot it: Muscle cramps and twitches, abnormal heart rhythm, fatigue and headaches.

8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are “healthy fats” that are not produced by the body but are just as beneficial. Not all fats are bad; some play a key role in lowering the risk of disease.

You can get your dose by adding fish or fish oil supplements to your diet along with nuts, leafy vegetables and flax seeds. These polyunsaturated fats support your heart health by reducing triglycerides in the blood and decreasing the risk of heart failure. Omega 3s also play a huge role in cognitive development and functioning.

How to spot it: Skin issues such as dryness, joint stiffness and troubles and brain fog can be signs that you are low on Omega-3 fatty acids.

9. Folic Acid

Also known as B9, Folic acid plays an important part in sustaining healthy red blood cells. Folate is crucial for the replication and repair of DNA and RNA. It is particularly important during pregnancy as Folic Acid’s role in cell production and division…periods of growth.

How to spot it: Extreme lethargy, pallid skin, mouth sores or ulcers and neurological symptoms such as memory impairment and concentration issues.


A balanced diet rich in nutrients and minerals is essential for healthy growth, development and recovery. It’s also important to highlight that excess nutrients can be just as detrimental to a person’s health as nutrient deficiencies. Consuming a balanced diet either post or pre-bariatric surgery ensures that you are taking the correct steps to avoid inadequacies and future illnesses. To achieve maximum results with Spatz Gastric Balloon, inform yourself about possible deficits and discuss preventative measures with your medical professional.

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