Chances are, you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Whether you’re a professional athlete, business executive, or stay-at-home parent; whether you’re a regular at fast food restaurants, take a daily multivitamin, or are on a raw diet, you are unique and have different nutritional needs than your neighbors, colleagues, teammates, and family members.
Even the healthiest eaters and most active athletes can have these deficiencies due their unique biochemical makeup and the sheer amount of nutrients burned during exercise.
Studies have shown that over 90% of Americans have insufficient levels of at least one vitamin, mineral, or micronutrient, with Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Magnesium, and Vitamin A among the most common deficiencies. No one age group, gender, race, or class of “healthy eaters” is immune. Even if you go to the doctor regularly, you and your doctor might not be aware of these deficiencies because the tests most doctors run look in the wrong places.
For athletes, what nutrient deficiency translates into is the body not being able to operate at peak performance, reduced strength or endurance, or slower recovery time. For the rest of the population, it often translates into slower metabolism, lower energy, headaches, and general fatigue (regardless of how many cups of coffee you have throughout the day!)
What’s more, many blood tests don’t tell you the whole story (and can, in fact, be extraordinarily misleading!)
Serum levels (what’s tested in a standard blood screen) are not always a good representation of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients available within your cells. And this is the important value to look at. That’s because within your cells are where energy is produced.
There are many steps in the cellular energy production process, and vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients are critical to this process being carried out properly. With insufficient levels of these nutrients, the body doesn’t have the resources it needs to do everything it should do, when and where it needs to do them efficiently, which can lead to anything from headaches to hormonal imbalances, birth defects, or heart problems.
As an example, my serum blood tests have always come back absolutely perfect, smack dab in the middle of each of the ranges, right where they’re supposed to be. But I was getting terrible headaches, and was tired all the time even when getting plenty of sleep. It turned out, when you look at the Magnesium within my cells, that I was extremely deficient (worse than 99% of the population) in Magnesium, which my blood test results didn’t even hint at (my serum levels of Magnesium were perfect).
For any deficiencies that exist, they can be addressed by adding nutrient-rich snacks or through supplementation. Everyone is unique, and unfortunately, a single multivitamin is insufficient to get all the nutrients our bodies need because of the variability in our genetics, lifestyles, and diets. Where deficiencies exist, supplementation can work, but keep in mind, bodies don’t absorb nutrients as well from supplements as they do from food.
Food contains lower concentrations of vitamins and minerals than supplements, but if you’re like most people, your body has gotten used to your “normal” behavior and diet, and changing too much too fast can lead to negative effects. Like anything else, moderation is the key. Changes need to be made slowly. Too much change to fast, and shift in vitamins and minerals can actually hurt and make you feel worse rather than better.
Nuts, seeds, potatoes, tomatoes, and green leafy veggies are some of the best “bang for your buck” food sources of vitamins and minerals if you want to experiment “blind” and see if eating them (in moderation!) helps.
If nothing else seems to be working, or if you find yourself getting headaches, are frequently tired for no apparent reason, or are interested in improving your athletic performance by better understanding your body’s unique nutritional needs and deficiencies, you can ask your doctor to order a cell segmentation test to test for micronutrient levels within your cells. If for some reason he or she refuses, or if you want additional information about your body’s unique biochemical make-up, there are equivalent screens that can be ordered online (at MY LIFE COVERED for example) from reputable labs.
Whatever you choose to do, remember, every single one of us is unique, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. The best thing you can do is listen to your body.