Micronutrient deficiencies and diet steps to overcome them


Along with nutrient intake it is important to keep a close tab over nutritional deficiencies as different stages of life have different calorie or energy requirement to commence various life processes in accordance with the physical attributes. Hence, calorie requirement varies with physical activity level, age, height, weight and co-morbidities, pregnancy and lactation.

Micronutrient deficiencies and diet steps to overcome them (Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay)

The most common micronutrient deficiency seen is that of Vitamin A, B, C, D, Calcium, Folate, Iodine, Iron. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Sweedal Trinidade, HOD Dietary Services at PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC in Mahim, revealed the the micronutrient deficiencies and steps to overcome them –

  • Iron: According to WHO anaemia still tops the list, young girls and pregnant women are the most vulnerable group of population, in pregnancy the risk for maternal death pregnancy or low birth weight infant is high.

Solution: WHO recommends iron and folic acid supplementation for improving serum iron status in women of reproductive age.

Dietary sources:

i) Heme sources: Red meat, organ meat, shell fish are very good sources of heme iron with good bio-availability.

ii) Non heme sources: Kidney beans, pumpkin, sesame, squash seeds, garden cress seeds, sunflower seeds, black dates are good sources of non-heme iron however bio availability is low.

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin responsible for immune function and healthy eyesight. Deficiency of Vitamin A can result in blindness, suppression of immunity that can make the deficient population prone to infections.

Solution: Vitamin A supplementation is highly effective in preventing the deficiency and reducing morality in women and children. It is important to note that excess Vitamin A intake leads to vitamin A toxicity.

Dietary sources:

Bright colour fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotenes like carrots, spinach, broccoli, red yellow bell pepper, pumpkins, grape fruit, cantaloupe and sweet potato are good sources of Vitamin A.

It is a fat soluble vitamin having steroid hormone like function in the body and has major role in nutrient gene interaction, that is; it can turn on and off a number of genes. Vitamin D3 is responsible for calcium absorption required for maintaining good bone mineral density also helps in preventing rickets, osteoporosis, lowers risk of fractures and helps building strong immunity.

Dietary sources: Fish and fish oil supplement, cheese, fortified milk.

Vitamin B12 or cobalamine is a water soluble vitamin responsible brain and neurological function. Deficiency may lead to megaloblastic anemia, atrophic gastritis where in thinning of abdominal lining is seen, pernicious anemia wherein there is reduced absorption of vitamin B12 takes place, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite infestation are some of the conditions that affect small intestine. Besides this following fad diet, going vegan may also lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Dietary sources: Shell fishes, egg yolk, milk products, sea weeds are some of the good sources of Vitamin B12

Iodine is responsible for production of thyroid hormone that is responsible for regulating metabolic changes, growth and repair.

Dietary sources: Fish, egg dairy and seaweed are rich sources of iodine. Also WHO recommends use of fortified food grade salt in daily diet as an effective step to overcome this deficiency.

It is very important to note that not having an access to certain nutrients is not the only reason but also fad diets can lead to nutrition deficiencies.

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