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11 Foods High in Vitamin D

Health Team Ariela 11 Foods High in Vitamin D FoodNutrition

Published on Monday, July 10th, 2017 @ 7:40 pm Health Team Ariela

Without vitamin D, our bodies would be unable to absorb calcium. Calcium is vital for
building and maintaining strong and healthy bones – Vitamin D also blocks the release
of the parathyroid hormone, which makes bones weak and brittle by reabsorbing bone
tissue.

Vitamin D is unique because it is not found in fresh fruits and vegetables, the sources of
most other essential vitamins. Vitamin D is obtained through sun exposure, specific
foods, and supplements. Those with limited sunlight exposure should take care to get
the proper vitamin D intake from certain foods and supplements when necessary.

So how can you incorporate more vitamin D in your diet? Eat these foods!

1. Fresh Fatty Fish

Fatty fish will not only provide you with a good amount of vitamin D per serving, but
you’re also getting those healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The fish that contains the most
vitamin D? Herring. One ounce (28g) of herring contains 460 international units (IU), or
115% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin D.

A whole fillet of catfish (about 160g) contains 795 IU, or 199% of your DRI of vitamin D.
Other seafood that contains vitamin D include oyster (6 pieces, or 84g for 67%) and
salmon (3 oz. for 100%) among others.

2. Canned Fish
Canned tuna, salmon, and sardines are all good sources of vitamin D. A big plus of
buying canned fish over fresh fish is that they’re a lot more affordable. They have a long
shelf life, so you can stock up when they’re on sale and incorporate them into many
different dishes.

One ounce of canned salmon contains 130 IU (33% DRI) of vitamin D. Canned light
tuna contains 66 IU (17% DRI) per ounce, while just two sardines contain 65 IU (16%
DRI) of vitamin D.

3. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent food to consider if you’re vitamin D deficient. One large egg
contains 41 IU, or 10% DRI of vitamin D. They are also good sources of riboflavin,
vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. Eggs contain choline, an essential nutrient that
many people don’t even know exists, and don’t get enough of. Choline is a major factor
in brain health and cognitive function. Choline deficiency can lead to memory loss,
cognitive decline, learning disabilities, and nerve damage.

4. Caviar

Caviar has earned its reputation in exclusive luxury and fine dining. Accompanied by
champagne or not, this unique cuisine served in tiny portions, offers a surprisingly large
nutrition profile. One tablespoon of caviar contains 37 IU, or 9% DRI of vitamin D. It is
also an excellent source of vitamin B12 (53%), iron (11%), magnesium (12%), and
selenium (15%).

Admittedly, this will probably not be your go-to when trying to up your vitamin D intake,
but hey, use this info as an icebreaker at your next caviar-on-a-cracker cocktail party
(depending on the crowd, of course).
5. Mushrooms

Not all mushrooms contain vitamin D—in fact, most don’t. Most mushrooms are grown
in the dark and thus are not exposed to the ultraviolet light which encourages vitamin D
production.

Some mushrooms, however, are exposed to ultraviolet light which makes them a source
of vitamin D. They contain ergosterol, a “pro-vitamin” that is converted into vitamin D by
exposure to sunlight—much like the process that takes place when humans are
exposed to sunlight.

Commercially available mushrooms that have been exposed to UV lamps are labeled
“UV-treated” or “high in vitamin D” and contain 400 IU of vitamin D per 3 ounces.

6. Fortified milk

Almost all types of pasteurized cow’s milk are fortified with vitamin D containing on
average 100 IU of vitamin D per cup. Yogurts are also typically fortified, containing 80-
100 IU per 6 ounces. Other dairy products, like ice cream and cheese, are not fortified,
so don’t rely on them as sources of vitamin D.

7. Fortified Orange Juice

Certain brands fortify their orange juice with the same amount of vitamin D that you’ll
find in fortified milk. So if you’re lactose intolerant, or you prefer to steer clear of dairy for
other reasons, you can get 100 IU of vitamin D from a cup of fortified orange juice.

Not all orange juice brands fortify with vitamin D, so check the label to be sure.

8. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is technically a food, but one that is consumed in supplement form rather
than served on a hot plate at the dinner table. It’s worth a mention because it is an
excellent source of vitamin D, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. Cod liver oil is an
incredible anti-inflammatory food that benefits all of the systems in your body.

Cod liver oil will deliver all the vitamin D that is lacking, preventing depression, anxiety,
fatigue, low libido, infertility, and many other things that come with vitamin D deficiency.
9. Fortified Tofu

Just like milk and orange juice can be fortified with vitamin D, so can tofu. Fortified tofu
does not only contain vitamin D, but it is also an excellent source of vitamins B2, B6,
B12, and calcium.

Tofu, made from soybeans, is naturally an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium.
There are many benefits you can enjoy from eating this food. Research shows that it
may lower the risk of many diseases including cardiovascular disease, breast and
prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, liver damage, and age-related cognitive
decline.

Check the label to ensure that the tofu you’re cooking with is fortified.

10. Beef or calf liver

This seems to be one of those foods that either you hate or love. A 3.5 ounce serving of
beef liver contains 12-30 IU of vitamin D, while a 3.5 ounce serving of chicken liver
provides 12 IU of vitamin D.

Even though it might be a good source of vitamin D, liver is very high in cholesterol, so
those with high cholesterol should steer clear of this food and opt for a healthier source
of vitamin D, like fish

11. Fortified Cereal

Certain cereals, like Cheerios, for example, are fortified with vitamin D. A breakfast that
includes fortified cereal in fortified milk with a fortified glass of orange juice will certainly
provide all the vitamin D you need in a day.

A ¾ cup of dry fortified cereal contains about 50 IU of vitamin D.


The very best source of vitamin D is a few minutes a day spent in the sunshine. Those
that do not see sunlight often enough due to their location, schedule, or medical
condition are recommended to eat fatty fish high in vitamin D and to take cod liver oil,
which is an excellent source of many nutrients that will keep your bones and your whole
body strong.

AUTHORITY NUTRITION
Evidence Based

9 Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D


Written by Taylor Jones, RD on June 2, 2016

Vitamin D is unique, because it can be obtained from food and sun exposure.

However, up to 50% of the world's population may not get enough sunlight, and 40% of people
in the US are deficient in vitamin D (1, 2).

This is partly because people spend more time indoors, wear sunblock outside and eat a Western
diet low in good sources of this vitamin.

The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) is 400 IU of vitamin D per day from foods, but many health
organizations recommend getting 600 IU (3).

If you don't get enough sunlight, it should probably be closer to 1,000 IU per day (4).

Here are 9 healthy foods that are high in vitamin D.

1. Salmon
Salmon is a popular fatty fish and also a great source of vitamin D.

According to nutrient databases, one 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of salmon contains between 361
and 685 IU of vitamin D (5).

However, it is usually not specified whether the salmon was wild or farmed. This might not seem
important, but it can make a big difference.

One study found that wild-caught salmon contains 988 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-oz (100-gram)
serving, on average. That's 247% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) (6).

Some studies have found even higher levels in wild salmon, ranging up to 1,300 IU per serving
(7).
Farmed salmon contained only 25% of that amount, on average. Still, that means a serving of
farmed salmon contains about 250 IU of vitamin D, which is 63% of the RDI (6).

Bottom Line: Wild salmon contains about 988 IU of vitamin D per serving, while
farmed salmon contains 250 IU, on average.

2. Herring and Sardines


Herring is a fish eaten around the world. It can be served raw, canned, smoked or pickled.

It's also one of the best sources of vitamin D.

Fresh Atlantic herring provides 1,628 IU per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving, which is four times the
RDI (8).

If fresh fish isn't your thing, pickled herring is also a great source of vitamin D, providing 680 IU
per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving. That's 170% of the RDI.

However, pickled herring also contains a high amount of sodium, which some people consume
too much of (9).

Sardines are another type of herring that is also a good source of vitamin D. One serving contains
272 IU, which is 68% of the RDI (10).

Other types of fatty fish are also good vitamin D sources. Halibut provides 600 IU per serving
and mackerel provides 360 IU per serving (11, 12).

Bottom Line: Herring contains 1,628 IU of vitamin D per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving.
Pickled herring, sardines and other fatty fish such as halibut and mackerel are also good
sources.

3. Cod Liver Oil


Cod liver oil is a popular supplement. If you don't like fish, taking cod liver oil can be a good
way to obtain certain nutrients that are hard to get from other sources.

At about 450 IU per teaspoon (4.9 ml), cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin D. It's been
used for many years to prevent and treat deficiency in children (13, 14).

Cod liver oil is also a fantastic source of vitamin A, with 90% of the RDI in just one teaspoon
(4.9 ml). However, vitamin A can be toxic in high amounts.

Therefore, it's best to be cautious with cod liver oil and not take more than you need.

Cod liver oil is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which many people are lacking in.
Bottom Line: Cod liver oil contains 450 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon (4.9 ml). It is also
high in other nutrients, such as vitamin A.

4. Canned Tuna
Many people enjoy canned tuna because of its light flavor and the fact that it can be kept on-hand
in the pantry.

It is also usually cheaper than buying fresh fish.

Canned light tuna contains up to 236 IU of vitamin D in a 100-gram (3.5-oz) serving, which is
more than half of the RDI.

It is also a good source of niacin and vitamin K (15).

Unfortunately, canned tuna is often associated with methylmercury, a toxin that is found in many
types of fish. If it builds up in the body, it can cause serious health problems in humans (16).

However, some types of fish pose less risk than others. Light tuna is typically a better choice
than white tuna, and it's considered safe to eat up to 6 oz per week (17).

Bottom Line: Canned tuna contains 236 IU of vitamin D per serving. Choose light tuna
and eat 6 oz or less per week to protect against methylmercury buildup.

5. Oysters
Oysters are a type of clam that live in salt water. They are delicious, low in calories and full of
nutrients.

One 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of wild oysters has only 68 calories, but contains 320 IU of
vitamin D, or 80% of the RDI (18).

In addition, one serving of oysters contains 2–6 times more than the RDI of vitamin B12, copper
and zinc — far more than multivitamins contain.

Bottom Line: Oysters are full of nutrients and provide 320 IU of vitamin D. They also
contain more vitamin B12, copper and zinc than a multivitamin.

6. Shrimp
Shrimp are a popular type of shellfish.

Yet unlike most other seafood sources of vitamin D, shrimp are very low in fat.

Despite this fact, they still contain a good amount of vitamin D — 152 IU per serving, or 38% of
the RDI (19).
They also contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, although at lower amounts than many other
foods rich in vitamin D.

Shrimp also contain about 152 mg of cholesterol per serving, which is a significant amount.
However, this should not be a cause for concern.

Many recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol intake does not have a big effect on
blood cholesterol levels.

Even the 2015 Dietary Guidelines have removed the upper limit for cholesterol intake, stating
that overconsumption of cholesterol is not an issue (20, 21, 22).

Bottom Line: Shrimp contain 152 IU of vitamin D per serving and are also very low in
fat. They do contain cholesterol, but this is not a cause for concern.

7. Egg Yolks
Luckily for people who don't like fish, seafood is not the only source of vitamin D. Whole eggs
are another good source, as well as a wonderfully nutritious food.

While most of the protein in an egg is found in the egg white, the fat, vitamins and minerals are
found mostly in the egg yolk.

One conventionally grown egg yolk contains between 18 and 39 IU of vitamin D, which isn't
very high (7, 23).

However, pasture-raised chickens that roam outside in the sunlight produce eggs with levels that
are three to four times higher (24).

Additionally, eggs from chickens fed with vitamin D-enriched feed have levels increased up to
an incredible 6,000 IU of vitamin D per yolk (25).

Choosing eggs that are either from chickens raised outside or that are marketed as high in
vitamin D can be a great way to help meet your daily requirements.

Bottom Line: Eggs from commercially raised hens contain only about 30 IU of vitamin
D per yolk. However, eggs from hens raised outside or fed vitamin D-enriched feed
contain much higher levels.

8. Mushrooms
Excluding fortified foods, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D.

Similar to humans, mushrooms can synthesize this vitamin when exposed to UV light (26).

However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas animals produce vitamin D3.
Although vitamin D2 does help raise blood levels of vitamin D, it may not be as effective as
vitamin D3 (27, 28).

Nonetheless, wild mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D2. In fact, some varieties
contain up to 2,300 IU per 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving (29).

Commercially grown mushrooms, on the other hand, are often grown in the dark and contain
very little vitamin D2.

However, certain brands are treated with UV light. These mushrooms can contain anywhere
from 130–450 IU of vitamin D2 per 3.5 oz (100 grams) (30).

Bottom Line: Mushrooms can synthesize vitamin D2 when exposed to UV light. Only
wild mushrooms or mushrooms treated with UV light are good sources of vitamin D.

9. Fortified Foods
Natural sources of vitamin D are limited, especially if you're a vegetarian or don't like fish.

Fortunately, some foods that don't naturally contain vitamin D are fortified with it.

Cow's Milk

Cow's milk, the type of milk that most people drink, is naturally a good source of many nutrients
including calcium, phosphorous and riboflavin (31).

In several countries, cow's milk is fortified with vitamin D. It usually contains about 130 IU per
cup (237 ml), or about 33% of the RDI (32, 33).

Soy Milk

Because vitamin D is found almost exclusively in animal products, vegetarians and vegans are at
particularly high risk of not getting enough of (34).

For this reason, plant-based milks such as soy milk are also often fortified with it, as well as
other vitamins and minerals usually found in cow's milk.

One cup (237 ml) typically contains between 99–119 IU of vitamin D, which is up to 30% of the
RDI (35, 36).

Orange Juice

Around 75% of people worldwide are lactose intolerant, and another 2–3% have a milk allergy
(37, 38).

For this reason, some countries fortify orange juice with vitamin D and other nutrients, such as
calcium (39).
One cup (237 ml) of fortified orange juice for breakfast can start your day off with up to 142 IU
of vitamin D, or 36% of the RDI (40).

Cereal and Oatmeal

Certain cereals and instant oatmeal are also fortified with vitamin D.

One half-cup serving of these foods can provide between 55 and 154 IU, or up to 39% of the
RDI (41, 42).

Although fortified cereals and oatmeal provide less vitamin D than many natural sources, they
can still be a good way to boost your intake.

Bottom Line: Some foods are fortified with vitamin D, including cow's milk, soy milk,
orange juice, cereals and oatmeal. They contain between 55 and 130 IU per serving.

Take Home Message


Spending some time outside in the sun is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
However, getting sufficient sun exposure is not possible for many people.

Getting enough from your diet alone is difficult, but not impossible.

The foods listed in this article are some of the top sources of vitamin D available.

Eating plenty of these vitamin D-rich foods is a great way to make sure you get enough of this
important nutrient.

An evidence-based nutrition article from our experts at Authority Nutrition.

7 Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Incredibly Common


Written by Adda Bjarnadottir, MS on October 6, 2015

Many nutrients are absolutely essential for good health.

It is possible to get most of them from a balanced, real food-based diet.

However, the typical modern diet lacks several very important nutrients.

This article lists 7 nutrient deficiencies that are incredibly common.

1. Iron Deficiency
Iron is an essential mineral.

It is a main component of red blood cells, where it binds with hemoglobin and transports oxygen
to cells.

There are actually two types of dietary iron:

Heme iron: This type of iron is very well absorbed. It is only found in animal foods,
and red meat contains particularly high amounts.
Non-heme iron: This type of iron is more common, and is found in both animal and
plant foods. It is not absorbed as easily as heme iron.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, affecting more than
25% of people worldwide (1, 2).

This number rises to 47% in preschool children. Unless they're given iron-rich, or iron-fortified
foods, they are very likely to lack iron.

30% of menstruating women may be deficient as well, due to monthly blood loss. Up to 42% of
young, pregnant women may also suffer from iron deficiency.

Additionally, vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk of deficiency. They consume only
non-heme iron, which is not absorbed as well as heme iron (3, 4).

The most common consequence of iron deficiency is anemia. The quantity of red blood cells is
decreased, and the blood becomes less able to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Symptoms usually include tiredness, weakness, weakened immune system and impaired brain
function (5, 6).

The best dietary sources of heme iron include:

Red meat: 3 ounces (85 g) of ground beef provides almost 30% of the RDI (7).
Organ meat: One slice of liver (81 g) provides more than 50% of the RDI.
Shellfish, such as clams, mussels and oysters: 3 ounces (85 g) of cooked oysters
provide roughly 50% of the RDI.
Canned sardines: One 3.75 ounce can (106 g) provides 34% of the RDI.

The best dietary sources of non-heme iron include:

Beans: Half a cup of cooked kidney beans (3 ounces or 85 g) provides 33% of the
RDI.
Seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame and squash seeds: One ounce (28 g) of roasted
pumpkin and squash seeds provide 11% of the RDI.
Broccoli, kale and spinach: One ounce (28 g) of fresh kale provides 5.5% of the RDI.

However, you should never supplement with iron unless you truly need it. Too much iron can be
very harmful.

Additionally, vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron. Eating vitamin C-rich foods like
oranges, kale and bell peppers along with iron-rich foods can help maximize iron absorption.

Bottom Line: Iron deficiency is very common, especially among young women, children
and vegetarians. It may cause anemia, tiredness, weakness, weakened immune system
and impaired brain function.

2. Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is an essential mineral for normal thyroid function and the production of thyroid
hormones (8).

Thyroid hormones are involved in many processes in the body, such as growth, brain
development and bone maintenance. They also regulate the metabolic rate.

Iodine deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. It affects nearly
one-third of the world's population (9, 10, 11).

The most common symptom of iodine deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, also known as
goiter. It may also cause an increase in heart rate, shortness of breath and weight gain (8).

Severe iodine deficiency may also cause serious adverse effects, especially in children. These
include mental retardation and developmental abnormalities (8, 10).

There are several good dietary sources of iodine:

Seaweed: Only 1 g of kelp contains 460–1000% of the RDI.


Fish: 3 ounces (85 g) of baked cod provide 66% of the RDI.
Dairy: One cup of plain yogurt provides about 50% of the RDI.
Eggs: One large egg provides 16% of the RDI.

However, keep in mind that these amounts can vary greatly. Iodine is found mostly in the soil
and the sea, so if the soil is iodine-poor then the food growing in it will be low in iodine as well.

Some countries have responded to iodine deficiency by adding it to salt, which has successfully
reduced the severity of the problem (12).
Bottom Line: Iodine is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. It
may cause enlargement of the thyroid gland. Severe iodine deficiency can cause mental
retardation and developmental abnormalities in children.

3. Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that works like a steroid hormone in the body.

It travels through the bloodstream and into cells, telling them to turn genes on or off.

Almost every cell in the body has a receptor for vitamin D.

Vitamin D is produced out of cholesterol in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. So people
who live far from the equator are highly likely to be deficient, since they have less sun exposure
(13, 14).

In the US, about 42% of people may be vitamin D deficient. This number rises to 74% in the
elderly and 82% in people with dark skin, since their skin produces less vitamin D in response to
sunlight (15, 16).

Vitamin D deficiency is not usually visible. The symptoms are subtle and may develop over
years or decades (17, 18).

Adults who are deficient in vitamin D may experience muscle weakness, bone loss and increased
risk of fractures. In children, it may cause growth delays and soft bones (rickets) (17, 20, 21).

Also, vitamin D deficiency may play a role in reduced immune function and an increased risk of
cancer (22).

Unfortunately, very few foods contain significant amounts of this vitamin.

The best dietary sources of vitamin D are (23):

Cod liver oil: A single tablespoon contains 227% of the RDI.


Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or trout: A small, 3-ounce serving of
cooked salmon (85 g) contains 75% of the RDI.
Egg yolks: One large egg yolk contains 7% of the RDI.

People who are truly deficient in vitamin D may want to take a supplement or increase their sun
exposure. It is very hard to get sufficient amounts through diet alone.

Bottom Line: Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Symptoms include muscle


weakness, bone loss, increased risk of fractures and soft bones in children. It is very
difficult to get sufficient amounts from diet alone.
4. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin.

It is essential for blood formation, as well as for brain and nerve function.

Every cell in your body needs B12 to function normally, but the body is unable to produce it.
Therefore, we must get it from food or supplements.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods (with the exception of nori seaweed and tempeh —
see here). Therefore, people who do not eat animal products are at an increased risk of
deficiency.

Studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans are highly likely to be deficient in vitamin B12.
Some numbers go as high as 80–90% (24, 25).

More than 20% of elderly people may also be deficient in vitamin B12, since absorption
decreases with age (26, 27, 28).

The absorption of vitamin B12 is more complex than the absorption of other vitamins, because it
needs help from a protein known as intrinsic factor.

Some people are lacking in this protein, and may therefore need B12 injections or higher doses
of supplements.

One common symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is megaloblastic anemia, which is a blood
disorder that enlarges the red blood cells.

Other symptoms include impaired brain function and elevated homocysteine levels, which is a
risk factor for several diseases (29, 30).

Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:

Shellfish, especially clams and oysters: A 3-ounce (85 g) portion of cooked clams
provides 1400% of the RDI.
Organ meat: One 2-ounce slice (60 grams) of liver provides more than 1000% of the
RDI.
Meat: A small, 6-ounce beef steak (170 grams) provides 150% the RDI.
Eggs: Each whole egg provides about 6% of the RDI.
Milk products: One cup of whole milk provides about 18% of the RDI.

Large amounts of B12 are not considered harmful, because it is often poorly absorbed and excess
amounts are expelled via urine.
Bottom Line: Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common, especially in vegetarians and the
elderly. The most common symptoms include a blood disorder, impaired brain function
and elevated homocysteine levels.

5. Calcium Deficiency
Calcium is essential for every cell. It mineralizes bone and teeth, especially during times of rapid
growth. It is also very important for the maintenance of bone.

Additionally, calcium plays a role as a signaling molecule all over the body. Without it, our
heart, muscles and nerves would not be able to function.

The calcium concentration in the blood is tightly regulated, and any excess is stored in bones. If
there is lack of calcium in the diet, calcium is released from the bones.

That is why the most common symptom of calcium deficiency is osteoporosis, characterized by
softer and more fragile bones.

One survey found that in the US, less than 15% of teenage girls and less than 10% of women
over 50 met the recommended calcium intake (31).

In the same survey, less than 22% of young, teenage boys and men over 50 met the
recommended calcium intake from diet alone. Supplement use increased these numbers slightly,
but the majority of people were still not getting enough calcium.

Symptoms of more severe dietary calcium deficiency include soft bones (rickets) in children and
osteoporosis, especially in the elderly (32, 33).

Dietary sources of calcium include:

Boned fish: One can of sardines contains 44% of the RDI.


Dairy products: One cup of milk contains 35% of the RDI.
Dark green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, bok choy and broccoli: One ounce of
fresh kale provides 5.6% of the RDI.

The effectiveness and safety of calcium supplements have been somewhat debated in the last few
years.

Some studies have found an increased risk of heart disease in people taking calcium
supplements, although other studies have found no effects (34, 35, 36).

Although it is best to get calcium from food rather than supplements, calcium supplements seem
to benefit people who are not getting enough in their diet (37).
Bottom Line: Low calcium intake is very common, especially in young females and the
elderly. The main symptom of calcium deficiency is an increased risk of osteoporosis in
old age.

6. Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth,
bones and cell membranes.

Furthermore, it produces our eye pigments - which are necessary for vision (38).

There are two different types of dietary vitamin A:

Preformed vitamin A: This type of vitamin A is found in animal products like meat,
fish, poultry and dairy.
Pro-vitamin A: This type of vitamin A is found in plant-based foods like fruits and
vegetables. Beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, is the most common
form.

More than 75% of people who eat a western diet are getting more than enough vitamin A and do
not need to worry about deficiency (39).

However, vitamin A deficiency is very common in many developing countries. About 44–50%
of preschool-aged children in certain regions have vitamin A deficiency. This number is around
30% in Indian women (40, 41).

Vitamin A deficiency can cause both temporary and permanent eye damage, and may even lead
to blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is the world's leading cause of blindness.

Vitamin A deficiency can also suppress immune function and increase mortality, especially
among children and pregnant or lactating women (40).

Dietary sources of preformed vitamin A include:

Organ meat: One 2-ounce slice (60 g) of beef liver provides more than 800% the RDI.
Fish liver oil: One tablespoon contains roughly 500% the RDI.

Dietary sources of beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) include:

Sweet potatoes: One medium, 6-ounce boiled sweet potato (170 g) contains 150% of
the RDI.
Carrots: One large carrot provides 75% of the RDI.
Dark green leafy vegetables: One ounce (28 g) of fresh spinach provides 18% of the
RDI.

While it is very important to consume enough vitamin A, it is generally not recommended to


consume very large amounts of preformed vitamin A, as it may cause toxicity.

This does not apply to pro-vitamin A, such as beta-carotene. High intake may cause the skin to
become slightly orange, but it is not dangerous.

Bottom Line: Vitamin A deficiency is very common in many developing countries. It


may cause eye damage and lead to blindness, as well as suppress immune function and
increase mortality among women and children.

7. Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium is a key mineral in the body.

It is essential for bone and teeth structure, and is also involved in more than 300 enzyme
reactions (42).

Almost half of the US population (48%) consumed less than the required amount of magnesium
in 2005-2006 (43).

Low intake and blood levels of magnesium have been associated with several diseases, including
type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and osteoporosis (43, 44).

Low levels of magnesium are particularly common among hospitalized patients. Some studies
find that 9–65% of them are magnesium deficient (45, 46, 47).

This may be caused by disease, drug use, reduced digestive function or inadequate magnesium
intake (48).

The main symptoms of severe magnesium deficiency include abnormal heart rhythm, muscle
cramps, restless leg syndrome, fatigue and migraines (49, 50, 51).

More subtle, long-term symptoms that you may not notice include insulin resistance and high
blood pressure.

Dietary sources of magnesium include:

Whole grains: One cup of oats (6 ounces or 170 g) contains 74% the RDI.
Nuts: 20 almonds provide 17% of the RDI.
Dark chocolate: 1 ounce (30 g) of dark chocolate (70–85%) provides 15% of the RDI.
Leafy, green vegetables: 1 ounce (30 g) of raw spinach provides 6% of the RDI.
Bottom Line: Many people are eating very little magnesium, and deficiency is common
in Western countries. Low magnesium intake has been associated with many health
conditions and diseases.

Take Home Message


It is possible to be deficient in almost every nutrient, but these 7 are by far the most common.

Children, young women, the elderly and vegetarians seem to be at the highest risk of several
deficiencies.

The best way to prevent a deficiency is to eat a balanced, real food-based diet that includes
nutrient-dense foods (both plants and animals).

However, supplements can be necessary when it is impossible to get enough from the diet alone.