Healthy eating, Victor Demarchelier, Harper's Bazaar
Photo: Victor Demarchelier

All living things need nutrition.  Plants get nutrition from the soil, animals get nutrition from plants and (other animals) and most humans get nutrition from plants and animals.​ Most diets are built around three basic ideas: 1. Calorie restriction (or counting,) 2. Adjusting the ratio of different macronutrients (i.e. low carb, low fat, high protein, high carb or some set ratio, etc and 3. Restricting or eliminating certain foods or food groups (vegetarian, vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, raw, no fruit, fruit-only, etc.)​.

The belief is that by adjusting some or all of the above you will lose weight and feel better. While this may or may not work, and whether that will last if it does, lies in an often overlooked component of constructing a nutrition program that will help you reach your goals (especially weight-loss): ensuring that you are getting all of the necessary micronutrients you need. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids.

Related article: The 10 Best Carbs For Weight Loss

Mira Calton, co-author of The Micronutrient Miracle explains, “Women have been told for years to count calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein to get to that ideal weight. However, we know there was a big piece of the puzzle that was missing. Science has now shown us that micronutrient sufficiency may be equally if not more important to achieve ideal body weight and healthy aging”. Mira speaks from experience as she was diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis at the age of 30 and was able to reverse it entirely in 2 years using the micronutrient therapies discussed in her book.

There are 7 reasons you may be micronutrient​ deficient.

1) Processed Foods – The standard american diet (SAD) is notoriously nutrient poor. Processed and refined items, artificial sweeteners are all lacking in key nutrients.

2) Restrictive Diets – Many people are following what they believe to be healthy diets when in fact they are restricting foods which are notoriously nutrient rich.

3) Low quality food– Depleted soil, coupled with unhealthy animals produces food that is lower in nutrients and is often loaded with toxins (See point 5).

4) Stress – Stress of any kind can deplete many micronutrients. While life can be stressful, there are some stressors we can control, one of those is what we put in our body.

5) Toxins – Toxins can deplete nutrients in your body and increase your requirement for certain nutrients. Toxins are present in the environment, in low quality food and water, in many personal hygiene and cleaning products.

6) Medications – Numerous medications impact your nutrient requirements. For example, those taking statins for cholesterol imbalances are often advised to take CoQ10. There are numerous other examples.

7) Digestive Problems – Even in the presence of an overall nutrient dense diet, if you can’t digest, absorb and assimilate the food you are eating you will likely encounter nutrient deficiencies. Overuse of antibiotics, overconsumption of processed foods, general stress, alcohol and not being mindful when you eat, can all impact your ability to absorb nutrients from your meal.

There are immediate things you can do to make sure  you are fulfilling your micronutrients needs:

  • Eat a wide variety of “real” food and avoid processed and refined items.
  • Don’t become dogmatic in your approach to nutrition, as chances are you will be missing out on some key nutrients.
  • Limit your exposure to toxins.
  • Manage stress.
  • Optimize digestion.