Sourced with thanks from ndtv.com
Consume a well-balanced diet is the constant refrain that you hear and hear again. You have heard it when you were young. You hear it now too even though you may have aged. This is to avoid nutrient deficiencies which if left uncontrolled can lead to serious health issues and increased risk of certain diseases. Nutrient deficiencies can be prevented though with the right nutrition support. So, it’s important to understand some of the common nutrition deficiencies and find ways to prevent them with a “well-balanced diet”. The author in the article below has identified such deficiencies and good dietary sources for those nutrients. Team RetyrSmart
What to include in a well-balanced diet to prevent nutritional deficiencies
The most common nutrient deficiencies seen are- protein, vitamin A, B, C, D, calcium, folate, iodine, and iron.
Protein-energy undernutrition which was earlier known as protein-energy malnutrition is seen in children of growing age who have no access to nutrients and also seen in older people who have limited access to quality nutrition, having anorexia, depression or long hours of fasting/starvation.
A well-balanced diet as per RDA (recommended dietary allowances) for age can help prevent these deficiencies.
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When it comes to deficiencies due to lack of vitamins and minerals intake, the list is huge. According to WHO anaemia still tops the list.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia and is defined by low haemoglobin concentration. Children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable group of population. Anaemia in pregnant women increases the risk of mothers’ death during pregnancy or childbirth and also results in low birth weight infants.
Dietary sources: Heme sources: Red meat, organ meat, shellfish are very good sources of heme iron with good bio-availability.
Non-heme sources: Kidney beans, pumpkin, sesame, squash seeds, garden cress seeds, sunflower seeds, black dates are good sources of non-heme iron however bioavailability 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.
Dietary sources: Bright colour fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotenes like carrots, spinach, broccoli, red yellow bell pepper, pumpkins, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and sweet potato are good sources of Vitamin A.
- Vitamin D:
It is a fat-soluble vitamin having steroid hormone-like function in the body and has a major role in nutrient gene interaction that is it can turn on and off several genes. Vitamin D3 is responsible for calcium absorption required for maintaining good bone mineral density also helps in preventing rickets, osteoporosis, lowers the risk of fractures and helps building strong immunity.
Dietary sources: Fish and fish oil supplement, cheese, fortified milk.
- Vitamin B12:
Vitamin B 12 or cobalamine is a water-soluble vitamin responsible brain and neurological function. Deficiency may lead to megaloblastic anemia, atrophic gastritis wherein thinning of the 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 the small intestine.
Besides this following a fad diet may also lead to Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Dietary sources: Shell fishes, egg yolk, milk products, seaweeds are some of the good sources of Vitamin B12
- Iodine deficiency:
Iodine is responsible for the production of thyroid hormone that is responsible for regulating metabolic changes, growth and repair. In children, it can lead to growth abnormalities and mental retardation.
Dietary sources: Fish, egg dairy and seaweed are rich sources of iodine.
It is very important to note that not having access to certain nutrients is not the only reason. These days following a fad diet is also one of the leading causes of nutrition deficiencies.
Consuming any nutrient in excess is also harmful to your health. Always consult an expert before adding supplements to your kids’ diet.