Eating a diet filled with healthy, nutritious foods, such as fruits, veggies, complex carbs, and lean proteins, can certainly do the body some good, and so it's important to know when you're missing out on nutrients, as a deficient can lower your ability to be productive, energized and mentally alert during the day due to a lack of fuel, say experts at WebMD.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on making sure that their bodies are functioning optimally and that they feel full of energy, life, motivation and joy, four sentiments that are more likely to be experienced when the body is getting the nutrients it needs. Foods that are high in nutrition points, as well as supplements for those who might not meet daily quotas, can help the body run smoothly and have enough gas to get through physical and mental tasks. However, it can be hard to know when you're missing out on nutrients or getting in your complete fill, as counting the amounts of nutrients found in standard meals is not an easy task. Instead, think about these eleven ways that your body might not be getting the nutrients it needs and then determine how best to address the issue.
1. You're A Vegetarian
Vegetarians can miss out on many nutrients if healthy, nutrient-dense foods are not included in the diet, says Brian Tanzer, Nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe, over email with me. "A vegetarian diet rich in wholesome and nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains legumes can be a great way to reduce your risk for chronic disease and improve your overall health and wellness. When done properly a vegetarian diet can meet all of your nutritional needs with a few important exceptions. Vegetarian diets are typically low in nutrients such as vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc and choline," he says.
2. You Don't Eat Fish
There are plenty of healthy omega 3 fatty acids in fish and algae products, and so if you don't eat them, you could be missing out, advises Tanzer. "EPA and DHA can be found in cold water fish such as salmon and tuna and are important nutrients which help promote cardiovascular, brain and eye health. The omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid typically found in plant-based foods such as flaxseeds and walnuts can be converted to EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is poor," he says.
3. You Don't Go Out Much
According to experts at WebMD, as well as Kathy McManus, PhD, head of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, in interview with them, not getting adequate sunshine could mean that you are missing out on vitamin D, which is important for strong bones, nails and teeth, as well as better brain health. Take a supplement and get a few minutes of sunshine each day.
4. Not Eating Real Meals
Not eating enough food or sticking to regular meals can definitely lower the amount of nutrients you get in a day, says Sydney Spoon, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, over email with me. "When people consistently skip meals or snacks, it gives them less opportunities to incorporate healthy foods into their diet. When eating too little of calories or eating minimal nutrient-dense foods, it is likely people are lacking in at a least a few vitamins or minerals, which help your body function at its best," she says. She recommends Perfect Bar for on the go snacking and meals.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
"Water is essential for nutrient absorption and drinking sufficient amounts of water helps the body process and transport nutrients to cells throughout the body. If you are not drinking adequate amounts of water and are dehydrated, you are failing to absorb and distribute many essential nutrients," say nutrition experts at CORE, over email with me. "Further, it has been shown that a pH balanced body absorbs nutrients from foods and supplements more readily and assimilates vitamins and minerals at an optimal level when your internal pH is balanced," as noted.
6. Not Eating Enough Raw Foods
"By adding some raw foods into your diet, it helps you absorb the crucial vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health. You don’t need to start eating a fully raw diet, but adding fresh foods to your plate during each meal is a good way to get the crucial nutrients you need,” says Carolyn Harrington, founder of Maty’s Healthy Products, over email with me. Consider adding in some raw foods with cooked ones to get maximum nutrients.
7. Not Combining Protein, Carbs & Fat
Combining nutrients is a great way to get in complete ratios that your body needs, advises Miguel Garza, CEO of Siete Family Foods, over email with me. "When I need a quick satiating meal, I often throw any protein into a tortilla. From quick grain free sandwich wraps to authentically delicious tacos, the tortilla provides just the right amount of awesome to every meal," he says. Pairing a carb, protein and fat for meals will help maximize absorption.
8. Your Hair Falls Out
If you notice your hair falling out, your ends getting straw-like and brittle, and your strands getting dry and dull in hue, then it could be a sign of a nutrient deficiency, especially in the nutrients zinc, vitamin C, healthy fats, and iron, among others, advises experts at WebMD. If you notice any signs, up your nutrient game stat.
9. You're Eating All Refined & Processed Carbs
If the majority of your diet is packed with sodas, sugary drinks, and foods, processed meals and refined carbohydrates, rather than lean proteins, fruits, and veggies, and complex carbohydrates, then you're likely missing out on key nutrients due to their absence in the majority of these more "junk food" type items, says experts at Health line. Try and eat as many whole foods as possible.
10. You're Always Tired
If you notice that you are always tired and feel low in energy and alertness, then it might mean that your body and brain are not getting the nutrients they need to perform optimally and that you need to be more mindful of your diet and nutrient intake in order to give your body its best chance to be productive and successful. Eat healthy foods and maintain a good sleep schedule when possible.
11. You're Cranky
If your mood is unstable and you find yourself lashing out or acting cranky during the day, it could mean that you are missing out on vital nutrients that would produce serotonin in the body to better the mood and stabilize emotions, says experts at The University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin B6, as well as other B vitamins, could enhance such production, as explained.
If you notice that you might be missing some of these mindful happens relative to the diet or find that your mood, fatigue levels or overall essence are off, then it might mean that you are not getting enough nutrients and should re-evaluate how much you are eating and how wisely you are choosing your meals.
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