Nearly one-third of adult Canadians are obese, which puts them at a higher risk of conditions like heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and even some cancers. With such the obesity epidemic waging across the country, you’d think that we are some very well-nourished people, right?
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Not so fast. Despite being very well-fed, vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect as much as three out of four of us.
Is this mere coincidence? Or could there possibly be a link between the number of people suffering from obesity and vitamin deficiencies?
Just because a diet is high in calories does not mean that it is high in nutrients. Processed foods, fatty foods, convenience foods, and drive thru foods are full of calories, food additives, added sugars, and saturated fats, and seriously lack in the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that healthy whole food provides.
Can A Vitamin Deficiency Lead to Weight Gain?
Vitamins and minerals are needed for the body to function properly, including metabolism, energy regulation, and even sending signals to your brain to trigger hunger signals. If certain key nutrients are lacking in our diet, then appetite signals could be affected, energy levels may drop, and the metabolism could slow; all events that could lead to weight gain.
Are you getting enough of these vitamins and minerals in your diet?
Vitamin A is required for immune and vision health, and for the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism. People with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) often experience weight gain. According to the Journal of Nutrition, early signs of vitamin A deficiency resulted in hypothyroidism. The average amount of weight gain associated with hypothyroidism is five to 10 pounds.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is absorbed with dietary fats and stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Low-fat and fat-free diets may lead to a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins. If you have only been eating egg whites, skim milk, and low-fat varieties of foods, you may be setting your body up for a deficiency in vitamin A.
Food sources of vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, and beef liver. Remember to enjoy vitamin A rich foods along with healthy fats, like those found in coconut oil or avocados, to help your body best absorb it.
Iodine is an essential mineral that also plays a role in thyroid hormone production. Women typically have lower levels of iodine than men, and women ages 20 to 39 have lower iodine levels than any other age group. Signs of a thyroid issue, like weight gain, an inability to lose weight, and fatigue, may be a sign to have your levels of iodine and vitamin A checked.
Iodine is found naturally in fish, such as cod and tuna, seaweed, shrimp, dairy products, and grains.
Three quarters of U.S. adults and teens are deficient in the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is manufactured by your body when exposed to sunlight, or found in certain foods.
A five year study published in the Journal of Women’s Health examined more than 4,600 women aged 65 and older, and found that those with insufficient levels of vitamin D gained an average of two pounds more than women with adequate levels of vitamin D. The study did not conclude that taking more vitamin D would cause weight loss, and more information is needed to determine if this vitamin deficiency led to the weight gain, or if weight gain was responsible for the low levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D levels seem to be dropping over time. From 1988 to 1994, 45% of people examined for a federal government nutrition survey had “sufficient” levels of vitamin D. Ten years later, only 23% of those examined had sufficient vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is found naturally in fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, egg yolks, beef liver, and fortified dairy products and cereals.
Magnesium is a mineral that is used in many different processes in the body. Magnesium allows your body to absorb and utilize other nutrients, and to properly use fats, proteins, and carbohydrates by activating enzymes.
Low levels of magnesium have been linked to metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that includes insulin resistance, high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, increased body fat around the waist, and obesity.
Magnesium is found in raw spinach, almonds, cashews, avocado, and mackerel.
If you think that vitamin deficiencies may be to blame for health issues, including weight gain, loss of energy, or constant fatigue, your doctor can test your levels, and advise you on vitamin deficiency treatments. A healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables (cooked and raw), nuts, seeds, whole grains, salmon, and lean proteins can help to provide you with all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay strong, active and healthy.