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  • Writer's pictureZina Turner

Optimal health is supported by micronutrients

Micronutrient deficiencies can occur when our diets are of balance. This can have detrimental effects on the body’s ability to function optimally, and can impact how we feel physically and emotionally.


Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential to the formation of skin and bones. It works as an antioxidant in the body. It is also used to synthesize hormones involved in gene regulation. The body prefers Vitamin A from food sources, rather than supplements. Vitamin A deficiency is possible with a poor diet. Vitamin A food sources include:

• Animal liver

• Grass-fed butter and dairy products

• Grass-fed meat and poultry

• Sweet potato

• Cantaloupe

• Carrots

• Dark-leafy greens


B12 is required for proper neurological function and red blood cell formation. This vitamin is only found in its natural form in animal products. Vegetarians and vegans are advised to take B12 supplements. Deficiency is very common, and can happen for two diferent reasons: • Not enough B12 in the diet • Inability to absorb B12 well (This is especially common for those on acid-blocker medications, and individuals with inflammation of the small intestine.) Vitamin B12 food sources include:

• Grass-fed beef and beef liver

• Wild-caught fish

• Lamb

• Eggs


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts more like a hormone than a typical vitamin. It is the only vitamin that is produced in the body. Vitamin D is generated when skin is exposed to sunlight. This vitamin promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate calcium concentrations, which promotes healthy bones. It also plays a big role in regulating the menstrual cycle and improving fertility. Many studies show that up to 50% of the population is deficient, even with adequate sun exposure. This has been linked to underlying inflammation in the body. Supplementation of Vitamin D should only be done under the guidance of one’s physician, as too much can be dangerous. Instead, aim to up your Vitamin D intake through sunshine and diet. Vitamin D food sources include:

• Fatty wild-caught fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel

• Cod liver or cod liver oil, grass-fed beef liver

• Eggs

• Dairy


Vitamin K2 is essential for bone strength and blood vessels. It also plays a role in healthy pregnancy. It works closely with Vitamin D. Deficiency of Vitamin K2 interferes with proper Vitamin D function and increases risk of excessive bleeding. Vitamin K2 is found mostly in fermented foods. Vitamin K2 food sources include:

• Kimchi

• Sauerkraut

• Natto

• Yogurt (either dairy or nondairy)

• Raw grass-fed dairy


Iron is a trace element. Animal sources provide the most bioavailable iron. Plant sources are more diffcult to break down into a usable form. Vitamin C helps to increase the absorption of iron from plant sources. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, lightheadedness, hair loss, dizziness and headaches. Deficiency is much more common in women, due to menstruation. Blood loss is one of the few ways to lose iron from the body, which tends to hold onto it very tightly. Iron food sources include:

• Animal liver

• Lean meats

• Seafood

• Beans

• Nuts

• Vegetables


Iodine is a trace element that is necessary for thyroid function. Deficiency can impair fetal and childhood growth. Many grain products are fortified with iodine, but it is best to get iodine from natural sources. Most people get their iodine from eating iodized salt, but as more people move away from iodized salt and consume sea salt instead, deficiency is becoming more common. Iodine food sources include:

• Seaweed

• Seafood

• Dairy

• Eggs


Magnesium is a major mineral. Among its many jobs, it is essential to maintaining blood sugar balance. Magnesium is widely available in the diet, but our levels have generally decreased as our vegetables are grown in ever more nutrient-deficient soil. Magnesium deficiency may be a risk factor for type II diabetes and PCOS. Magnesium-rich food sources include:

• Green leafy vegetables

• Avocados

• Seaweed

• Beans

• Nuts

• Seeds - such as pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame


Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning the body does not make it, but it is required to keep processes running smoothly. Plant-based omega-3 is not as beneficial as sources found in fish, because it is harder for the body to use. Omega-3 has been shown to decrease inflammation in the body It can also help prevent or reduce the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disease. Omega-3 food sources include:

• Wild-caught fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring

• Walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed


Folate, or B9, is essential for pregnancy, as it is very involved in the formation and growth of the nervous system. Later in life, it is necessary for building red blood cells and maintaining DNA function. Folate is the natural form of B9, and it is the type that is preferred by the body. Folic acid is a supplement that must be processed in order to be used. Many people have a genetic mutation called MTHFR that makes it diffcult to break down folic acid. Deficiency can lead to chronic low energy, anemia, mouth sores and birth defects. Folate food sources include:

• Spinach

• Cruciferous vegetables (especially brussels sprouts and asparagus)

• Beans and peas

• Avocado

• Beef liver

© 2017 Integrative Nutrition, Inc. | Reprinted with permission


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