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If the Primal way of eating is so healthy, why am I writing a post on common nutrient deficiencies? Well, mostly because you asked. For months now, I’ve received emails from Mark’s Daily Apple readers asking about iodine, selenium, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals, so I figured it’s about time to highlight these key nutrients, explain how and why some people find themselves deficient and provide my opinion as to what they can do about it. I also wrote this article to make the point that quitting grains, legumes, seed oils, and sugaris just part of the equation. There’s a whole lot more to healthy eating than just deciding what not to eat. You also have to be mindful of the things you do eat, and – hopefully – those things will be incredibly nutritious. Consider this post your guide to avoiding some of the most common nutrient deficiencies. Let’s jump right in…
Iodine is a trace mineral with big implications for our health, especially of the thyroid. Although most assume deficiency is relegated to developing nations, recent research has found deficiency in places like the UK and France.
Deficiency Symptoms 1. Hypothyroidism – Iodine is a crucial ingredient in thyroid hormone, so
a lack of iodine in the diet will reduce the thyroid’s ability to manufacture thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, an inability to lose weight, fatigue, elevated blood lipids, hair loss, dry skin, loss of libido, infertility, to name a few. 2. Goiter – In an iodine-deficient state, the thyroid gland will enlarge in order to overcompensate. This will often result in a highly visible lump in the neck.
iodine content of soil varies dramatically by region. Most table salt is iodized with the minimum required dose. or. but when people switch to a whole foods. Supplement.3. Eat seaweed. Iodine in the boiling water. Lack of iodine in the soil. fish. Dosage . Iodoral. so you could do something with the water. isn’t a true whole-body deficiency. shellfish. and basically any creature that lives in the ocean. but very little solid data exists on the iodine content of soil by region. 3.” Coastal areas tend to have higher soil iodine levels. then. Popular ones include kelp supplements. they’ll often reduce their salt intake and switch to sea salt (which contains trace minerals but insignificant amounts of iodine). crustaceans. chicken baby brains need iodine just as much as human baby brains. but rather an inability of the thyroid to get the iodine it requires. 4. better yet. Although iodine concentration remains pretty constant throughout the ocean. like seaweed and seafood. it’ll show up in the yolk. Lugol’s solution. Excessive intake of goitrogen-rich foods. but there are lots of good sources. however. Why Might Deficiency Occur? 1. Grilling retains far more iodine than boiling. Insufficient intake of iodine-rich foods. 3. This. so that’s probably a nice middle ground between boiling and fish sticks. Cooking method will also determine iodine content. or curry. After all. Although the specific amount depends on the dietary iodine of the laying hen. Drop a dried strip in your next pot of soup. put several strips in your next batch of bone broth along with the bones. Raw seafood will retain the most iodine. codfish. Removal of iodized salt from the diet. Eat seafood. Primal eating plan. accounts for most of the lost iodine. Cretinism – Iodine deficiency during pregnancy often results in abnormal neurodevelopment and lowered IQ (PDF) in the child. with boiling losing the most and frying retaining the most (PDF). and just a little less than frying. which interfere with iodine uptake by the thyroid gland. chili. and Iosol. 4. 2. Looks like pollack. due to absorption from atmospheric iodine (which in turn comes from the ocean). but you can get an idea from thisJapanese analysis of commonly eaten fish. especially hijiki and kelp (or kombu). Iodine content of fish varies. Eat pastured egg yolks (PDF). 2. if there’s iodine in the diet. Where to Get It 1. and abalone rank highest. with some areas having so little that they’ve earned the term “goiter belt.
wherever your food is grown). selenium must be present in the soil to show up in the food. but there’s very little evidence ofselenium toxicity from a diet high in selenium rich foods. 3. As I mentioned here. consider increasing your intake. Dosage 200 mcg appears to be the safe supplemental dose. It isn’t created out of thin air. canreduce the absorption of selenium from foods. and celiac. this map should give you an idea of how much selenium is present in soil near you (or. while selenocysteine is found in animals. so that . minor deficiency is easy to get and can have some unpleasant effects on our health. Intestinal disorders. Paul Jaminetrecommends starting low (500 mcg/day) and slowly increasing intake by doubling every month. Why Might Deficiency Occur? 1. Selenium deficiency symptoms look an awful lot like the side effects of statins.RDA is 150 micrograms. Insufficient intake of selenium-rich foods. like Crohn’s disease. Selenomethionine is the form found in plants. so a selenium deficiency can manifest with hypothyroid symptoms (see above). Selenium supports efficient thyroid hormone synthesis and is required for the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 into the active T3. you’re not in much danger of going overboard. 2. Seaweed-eating Japanese populations often get upwards of 12. cod. you’ll also want to make sure you’re getting enough selenium (see below) before increasing iodine intake. Selenium While severe selenium deficiency in adults is pretty rare. and egg yolks are all good sources of selenium.5 milligrams (or 12. kidneys. shrimp. wild salmon. Deficiency Symptoms 1. Brazil nuts (one or two a day are enough to improve selenium status). halibut. crimini and shiitake mushrooms. 2. while the general Japanese populationgets beween 1-3 mg per day. 150 mcg should be the bare minimum. turkey.500 micrograms) per day. ulcerative colitis. 2. especially muscle damage and polyneuropathy. Lack all other minerals. and if you’re feeling any of the deficiency symptoms. Supplement. more importantly. Where to Get It 1. If you stick to food sources. Lack of selenium in the soil. lamb. If you’re in the United States.
US readers. Fibromyalgia.” like citrate. osteoporosis.Brazil nut-encrusted salmon kidney in shiitake/crimini mushroom sauce with a turkey egg omelet should be safe. 4. especially swiss chard and spinach. with low intakes being linked to type 2 diabetes. metabolic syndrome. Lack of magnesium-rich foods in the diet. 7. 2. Everyone touts its importance. or taurate) tend to be the best absorbed. 4. Magnesium Ah. How many people do you know who really eat lots of leafy greens? Both Primal and SAD eaters are therefore at risk. Gerolsteiner. is particularly high in magnesium. Where to Get It 1. One brand. seeds. 3. Cramping. particularly plant foods. The chelated magnesiums (those ending in “-ate. most research suggests that only around half of US adults reach the RDA. In my . glycinate. while plants tend to be magnesium-rich. magnesium. and yet few seem to get enough through diet. 6. dark chocolate. 2. I suspect magnesium-rich water (as opposed to purified. Leafy greens. Hypertension. Restless leg syndrome. Supplement. Why Might Deficiency Occur? 1. heart disease. 3. In fact. 2. Or you could find a spring nearby for some real (free) spring water. Animal foods are relatively magnesium-poor. Deficiency Symptoms (Just Some of Them) 1. asthma. Removal of magnesium from drinking water. Migraines. depleted modern water) was how Grok got a lot of his magnesium. espresso. 3. You can also apply magnesium oil topically for transdermal absorption. 5. Insulin resistance. and halibut. check out this magnesium soil content map (similar to the selenium soil map) to see how you do. Constipation. and colon cancer. Mineral water. Lack of magnesium in the soil. Nuts.
Is it any surprise that they might be a bit deficient. Arterial calcification. Vitamin K2 Most people haven’t even heard of vitamin K2. Tartar buildup on the teeth. Osteoporosis. thus giving them nothing to convert to vitamin K2 via gut fermentation. huh?). A lack of vitamin K2-containing foods in the diet. the safest route is the one that involves eating lots of the aforementioned foods (tough. it’s available only in select foods. cows without access to pasture will have very little K1 to convert. Dosage . MK-7. A lack of vitamin K-containing foods in the diets of the animals we eat. Food-based supplements like high-vitamin butter oil. transdermal magnesium absorbs best on the rib cage and inner arms (you’ll know from the tingling and the vivid dreams). Therefore. 2. natto – the traditional (and sticky) Japanese fermented soybeans – is your best bet. aged cheese. grass-fed butter. Aim to get it from food if possible. goose liver. 3. Straight-up supplements. and fish eggs. you can’t go out of your way to obtain it. 2. Dosage 400 milligrams daily is the minimum. and maybe heart disease eventually. you need to eat pastured yolks. Cows raised on pasture are able to convert the vitamin K1 in grass to vitamin K2. 2. 3. we don’t know exactly how much K2 is in any of these foods without extensive testing. Where to Get It 1. MK-4. Why Might Deficiency Occur? 1. For the animal form.experience. Even if we’re aware of K2. If you don’t know about it. and none of the online nutritional databases include vitamin K2 in their analyses. A total lack of knowledge of the vitamin’s existence. Of course. like Thorne MK-4 drops or Life Extension. For the vegetable form. which has both Mk-4 and Mk-7. and eventually tooth decay. Food. too? Deficiency Symptoms 1. 3. I’d say.
3. have higher “normal” B12 markers and fewer cases of Alzheimer’s/dementia. including vitamin B12. 5. 2. Vitamin B12 According to Chris Kresser. We aren’t looking for it. But if you have some of the symptoms. Deficiency Symptoms 1. 2. Studies on osteoporosis and heart disease use rather large doses (45 mg/day) without ill effect. Anxiety and depression. Dosage If you eat animal products regularly and liver occasionally. . Why Might Deficiency Occur? 1. Supplements. even among those who eat plenty of the richest source of B12: animals. you’ll be getting plenty of B12 in your diet. sardines. we assume we’re getting plenty. and vitamins. like Japan. minerals. but the amount you’d get from food is far lower – maybe 1 mg.It’s tough to say. with liver running away with it. In that case. Chris recommends 1 mg/day ofsublingual methylcobalamin. Autism spectrum disorder in children. No need to supplement if you have none of the symptoms listed above. and doctors don’t check for it regularly. 3. Everything could check out and look fine on paper. consider getting your levels tested during your next visit to the doctor. Methylcobalamin is probably the best. There are no vegetarian sources. Animals. Dementia/Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. Liver. We set the bar for “normal” too low. which will bypass the intestinal tract and pass directly into the bloodstream. vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common. Gut disorders like Crohn’s ordiarrhea affect our ability to absorb nutrients. Unwanted weight loss. Other countries. or you have a gastrointestinal disorder that may be compromising your ability to absorb vitamin B12. 4. max. 2. Where to Get It 1. As meat-eaters. We aren’t absorbing the B12 in our food. and salmon rank highest. but the lower end of “normal” is too low and can still cause B12 deficiency symptoms. Lethargy.
Get the Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook. Free Health Tips and Primal Recipes Delivered to Your Inbox . now you know how. and if not. And if there are any other nutrients you’ve been wondering about. Thanks for reading.Do any of these sound familiar? Are you getting enough of these nutrients? I hope so. folks. let me know in the comments and maybe I can get a sequel going.
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