There are dozens of possible micronutrient decificiences, and depending on the severity, they can range from mild undiagnosed symptoms to potentially death. Thankfully, you would have to have a very serious acute micronutrient deficiency, like a lack of Vitamin C (otherwise known as scurvy), to flirt with potential death. So barring extreme circumstances, that leaves us with only chronic relatively mild micronutrient deficiencies to be concerned about.
Should you be Concerned about Micronutrient Deficiencies?
Yes, we should all be concerned! Chronic micronutrient deficiencies can result in unpleasant health outcomes such as childhood asthma for a manganese deficiency, fatty liver for choline deficiency, or increased risk of arterial calcification for a Vitamin K2 deficiency, just to name a few. Even more concerning in my opinion is how difficult it can be to determine whether or not you have a micronutrient deficiency. It's hard to take preventative action when there are few obvious warning signals. Nearly half of the US population consumed less than the recommended RDA for magnesium, 64% are low-normal or below with vitamin B12 (at least in Framingham, Massachusetts), and most people in developed countries have sub-optimal levels of vitamin D. If it was easier to identify and address these issues, this many people wouldn't be in poor health. What's the solution?
For most people who take preventative action, the answer is pills, and lots of them. Everyday millions of vitamin and mineral micronutrient pills are gulped down without thought by many. While the method of taking a specific micronutrient pill daily is effective to some degree, what it makes up for in convenience it lacks in effectiveness and nuance. A quick glance at a drug store shows entire aisles devoted to supplements for individual micronutrients, combinations of various micronutrients, and multivitamins. The same micronutrient, like zinc, might come in five different forms (such as zinc sulfate, zinc picolinate, zinc oxide, zinc gluconate, etc), each differing in bioavailability, how it was sourced, contamination concerns, and more. With so many factors to take into account it can become incredibly daunting to research which supplements to take (trust me, I have). Is there a better way to make sure you get sufficient micronutrients in your diet for optimal health but without a buying and consuming a dozen plus expensive supplements?
Nutritious Foods to the Rescue
The answer isn't a different type of supplement, but instead a different mindset. Instead of prioritizing getting your recommended amount of micronutrients daily, focus on getting your recommended micronutrients weekly. Considering your body is able to store nearly every micronutrient for various lengths of time, there really is no need to get each and every micronutrient everyday. Weekly and daily micronutrient supplementation was found to have no difference in young Vietnamese children. Another study found no difference between daily and weekly iron supplementation for young children in rural Bangladesh. Considering these studies were done with rural and likely impoverished children (where the effect will be more dramatic), it's safe to say that prioritizing micronutrient targets weekly rather than daily is just as effective for general populace. The difference in outcomes between daily and weekly supplementation is minor, but it is much easier to stick with a weekly supplementation routine, or even better, just focus on eating whole nutritious foods. How you arrive at a desirable outcome often is just as important as the outcome itself.
Think Longer Term
By switching from a daily to a weekly mindset, you empower yourself to eat a variety of healthy, nutritious foods over the course of a week instead of a sub-par diet with daily vitamin/mineral supplements or an unmanageable healthy diet which strives to optimize and achieve the RDA for each micronutrient everyday. As long as you consume a whole, unprocessed foods micronutrient rich diet, 90% of any deficiency concerns you have should be alleviated. And if you're still worried, a greens/superfood supplement like Organifi Green Juice (read our review) which is rich in a wide variety of micronutrients is a great adjunct that helps fill in that last 10% a healthy diet might still miss*.
*From factors such as soil depletion and increasing crop yields per square acre.
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