This week I am talking about micronutrient insufficiency , a topic I am very passionate about because I see it more often than not in clinic, and it has such far reaching health implications.
What are micronutrients? They are essential nutrients that our bodies require in relatively small amounts to allow our body to function & maintain health. Unlike macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, which are needed in larger amounts. Micronutrients include our vitamins & minerals, perform a range of functions, including enabling the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances needed for normal growth and development.
Deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and iodine are the most common around the world, particularly in children and pregnant women. Micronutrient deficiencies can cause visible and dangerous health conditions, but they can also lead to less clinically notable reductions in energy level, mental clarity and overall capacity. This can lead to reduced educational outcomes, reduced work productivity and increased risk from other diseases and health conditions.
There is often a lot of focus on tracking macros, yet very little on using this information to consider your micronutrient intake to see any trends in micronutrient insufficiency. With this in mind I really do recommend some periods of tracking to see where your nutrient intake is sitting.
The 2008 study from the University of Otago & Ministry of Health NZ Adult Nutrition Survey - a focus on health recorded the percentage of the population (both male & female) who were not reaching RDI targets for each micronutrient. This is the most recent study, but these statistics could very well be worse now.
Percentage of the population NOT reaching RDI targets:
Vitamin A around 15%
Vitamin B1 25%
Vitamin B6 20%
Vitamin C 5%
Calcium almost 75%
Iron 1:4 are deficient and this is closer to 50% in female athletes.
This is even more concerning when you consider many RDIs are simply minimum ranges required to survive, not to thrive. Our nutrient demands increase when we are sick, highly stressed, injured, pregnant & breastfeeding, and highly active.
Why are we seeing micronutrient insufficiency across the board? increases in intakes of processed foods, faster growing crops, pourer soil quality. USDA data suggests some fruits and vegetables contain half the amount of nutrients it did in the 1950s.
One thing that many chronic illnesses such as autoimmune disease all have in common is nutrient deficiencies, this has also been linked to those with poorer outcomes from covid, long covid. A focus of improving nutrient sufficiency across the board is really important here alongside specific dosing / intake of key nutrients to support health such as Vitamin D.
What can we do to help optimise our nutrient intake? Eat a diet full of whole and unprocessed foods such as good quality protein, oily fish, nuts, seeds and an abundance of dark green & brightly coloured vegetables and some fruits. Consider where you can crowd in more nutrient rich foods.
Nutrition is our best source of bioavailable nutrients. I am also an advocate of using a multi nutrient powder such as Nuzest’s Good Green Vitality and a really good Omega 3 supplement if you don't consume oily fish. I like to think of these as my nutritional insurance to complement a varied wholefoods diet.
If you would like some help optimising your nutrition, or accessing practitioner only supplements I am available 9-2pm every Wednesday at ReDefined, you are more than welcome to book in for a free discovery chat. If you would like more information or to book an appointment outside of those times please email me at email@example.com