Column: Detecting nutrient deficiencies


Commentary by Devina Prasad, MD

While the human body is an incredible machine, it relies on many things to keep it running and in top form. In fact, our bodies need so many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, it can be hard to tell if something’s lacking unless we’re aware of the signs. Here are some tips for detecting common deficiencies.

Vitamin D

Muscle weakness, chronic pain, joint pain and fatigue can be subtle signs of a Vitamin D deficiency. A lack of Vitamin D puts kids at risk of respiratory disease and for children with asthma, the disease can worsen. To ensure you get enough Vitamin D, venture outdoors on sunny days. The more you’re exposed to sunlight, the more Vitamin D your body produces.


Eating foods such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, beans and liver will help ensure your body has the iron it needs. Bruising, hair loss, fatigue, brittle nails, sore muscles and pale skin are some signals you may be iron deficient.


With summer approaching, avoiding dehydration is even more important. Signs you need to drink more water include dry mouth, decreased sweating, lightheadedness and dark, scant urine.


Electrolytes – calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphate chlorine and others – are minerals needed for muscle and nerve function and to balance body fluids. Excessive heat, sweating, vomiting and diarrhea can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Signs include muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, confusion and loss of consciousness (in extreme cases). You can prevent an electrolyte imbalance by staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet.

It’s important to note that the signs and symptoms mentioned above can be caused by a variety of conditions. That’s why it’s important to consult with your doctor when new symptoms occur to determine the cause.

Devina Prasad, M.D., specializes in family medicine and is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Primary Care – IU Health Saxony Hospital. She can be reached by calling the office at 317.678.3800. For more health information, subscribe to Strength in You at


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