When it comes to diagnosing various health problems, vitamin and mineral deficiencies probably aren’t top of mind for most of us.
But maybe they should be.
The vast majority of Americans fail to receive the recommended daily allowance of several key nutrients.
Much of this is a result of eating a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables. For some, it could be a result of restricting calories or embracing diets that rule out entire food groups.
In order to achieve our best health—strong teeth and bones, lustrous hair, healthy skin and nails, high energy and a good mood—there are certain things we really can’t do without.
Below are eight vital vitamins and minerals most women aren’t getting enough of—along with symptoms of the deficiencies and good dietary sources of the missing nutrients.
We need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day for those up to age 50 and 1,200 milligrams per day for those older than 50.
Deficiency symptoms include decreasing bone density, osteoporosis, bone breakage and fractures. These are usually not obvious until the deficiency is chronic.
Dietary sources include dairy products, firm tofu, acorn squash, spinach and cooked collards.
Folate (aka vitamin B-9, folic acid)
Anyone 13 and older needs 400 to 600 micrograms of folate per day. This is particularly important for women who are pregnant or looking to become pregnant.
Deficiency symptoms are usually subtle and include gray hair, fatigue, mouth sores, tongue swelling, growth problems, persistent fatigue, weakness or lethargy, pale skin, shortness of breath and irritability.
Dietary sources include edamame, chickpeas, lentils, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, avocados, lettuce, mangos and oranges.
We all need 150 micrograms of iodine per day.
Deficiency symptoms include goiter, enlarged thyroid or hypothyroidism, weight gain, fatigue, constantly feeling cold and thinning hair.
Dietary sources include iodized salt, dried seaweed, dairy products, seafood, eggs and baked potatoes with skin.
People ages 19 to 50 need 18 milligrams of iron per day. Those older than 50 require 8 milligrams per day. Women who are pregnant need 27 milligrams per day.
Deficiency symptoms include extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, brittle nails and a sore or swollen tongue.
Dietary sources include fortified cereals, beef, beans, lentils, quinoa, spinach, swiss chard and shellfish such as clams, mussels and oysters.
For maximum absorption, eat with foods containing vitamin C and avoid eating with foods that contain calcium.
Most of us need 310-320 milligrams of magnesium per day.
Deficiency symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, muscle cramps or twitches and muscle weakness.
Dietary sources include spinach, avocado, seeds (pumpkin, chia, flax, sesame), beans (lima, kidney, lentils), nuts (almonds, cashews), tuna, yogurt, bananas and dark chocolate.
Anyone 14 and older requires 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 per day. Women who are pregnant will need slightly more, about 2.6 micrograms.
Deficiency symptoms include anemia, swollen tongue, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle weakness and tingling or numbness in hands, feet and legs.
Dietary sources include shellfish, tuna, salmon, beef, dairy products and fortified cereals.
Those 19 and older need about 75 milligrams of vitamin C each day.
Deficiency symptoms include rough or dry skin, frequent bruising, slow healing, tooth loss, bleeding gums, fatigue and anemia.
Dietary sources include citrus fruits, guava, pineapple, kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, kale and tomatoes.
Until we reach age 50, we need about 1,000 milligrams of the sunshine vitamin per day. Once we’re older than 50, up that amount to 1,200 milligrams.
Deficiency symptoms include decreasing bone density, depression, rickets, obesity, type 2 diabetes, muscle weakness and fatigue.
Dietary sources include fortified milk or yogurt, fortified cereals, mushrooms, egg yolks and cold-water fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel).