Common Deficiencies in New Zealand
In this blog I’m going to look at
Four common nutrients that are depleted in your typical kiwi
A few of the reasons why this is occuring
Some of the reasons these nutrients are critical to your health
The best ways to boost your intake of each of these essential nutrients.
Many factors that contribute to the why these deficiences are so common. Some of these reasons are modern stress (increases the rate we use nutrients), modern farming methods (modern farming methods fail to remineralise our soils) convenience foods (overprocessed and no nutrients to begin with) and environmental toxins (bind to the nutrients so they cant do their job). In a modern age we are living the irony of being “overfed but undernourished”. If someone says ‘Malnourished’ we think of poor starving African children but nowdays that’s not the case. By eating foods that are processed, have been in storage, not preparing foods traditionally and having impaired digestive health you could be missing out on vital nutrients running the risk of health consequences that are easily avoidable. Zinc is vital for healthy immune function, clear skin, reproductive health, energy and metabolic regulation. I have no figures on how widespread zinc deficiency is, but is one of the most common low nutrients in the clients I work with. I test for zinc levels with all clients using an oral zinc test.
Zinc is another mineral that is low in New Zealand soils and also lost through the way we buy and store foods i.e. the most common food source for the majority of people is buying through a supermarket – these foods have usually been picked prematurely, some gas ripened and stored for a long period of time before they are eaten. Check your nails – a common sign of low zinc levels is white spots on the nails.
Good sources of zinc include seafood, red meat, eggs, dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds RDI: Women 19+ years: 8mg Men 14+ years: 14mg Pregnant: 10-11mg Breastfeeding: 11-12mg
Selenium is a vital antioxidant which aids immune function and it considered to be protective against cancers. New Zealand soils have low levels of selenium. New Zealander’s dietary intakes of selenium are lower than many other countries. We roughly get 10-20% of the selenium we require to meet our recommended daily intake of 60 mcg per day (RDI). Remember this figure is the amount needed to prevent disease but for optimal health we need more. Good sources of selenium include organic brazil nuts, beef, mushrooms and fish. Incorporate 2-4 organic brazil nuts (sourced from outside NZ) a day covers your selenium requirements.
RDI: Women 19+ years: 60mcg
Men 19+ years: 70mcg
Vitamin D (did you know it is actually a hormone) aids the body is absorption of calcium from food sources and it is vital for healthy bones and muscles. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, infertility, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Professor Rebecca Mason (President of the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society) says “research suggests that among the general population, around one in three of us will be vitamin D deficient by the end of winter.” The cancer society has done a great job of educating us on how sun exposure causes skin cancers and causes premature aging so now as a population we spend far more time indoors and cover up with clothes and sunscreen when we are outdoors. To get your daily dose of vitamin D, it takes around half the time taken to get sun burnt. We should expose as much skin as possible for at least 15-30mins depending on the time of the year. What we absorb in summer supports our vitamin D levels through winter. Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, beef, organ meat, and fish.
RDI: Women and men 19-50 years: 5mcg
51-70 years: 10mcg
71+ years: 15mcg
Pregnant/breastfeeding: 5mcg Iodine is required by the thyroid to make thyroid hormones which help manage metabolism, growth and development. Iodine deficiency is the number one cause of preventable intellectual disability in children, and recent studies have shown evidence of iodine deficiency re-emerging in New Zealand. The iodine content of food is once again dependent on the soil and New Zealand has typically low iodine soil content. Iodine requirements for pregnant mothers are greatly increased, as their growing baby depletes them of their own levels and needs a large amount themselves. People with autoimmune conditions - especially hypothyroidism need to increase their iodine intake.
The best sources of iodine are seaweed like kelp, wakame – these can be brought in a dried form which can be added to pesto and soups. Shellfish and fish is another good source.
RDI: Women and men 14+ years: 150mcg