Nutrient Shortfalls: Common Vitamins You Might Be Lacking, and Why

Mar 09, 2022 Lifestyle Tips 7 MIN

Nutrient Shortfalls: Common Vitamins You Might Be Lacking, and Why

As you probably know, the best and primary source for essential daily nutrients is a diet rich in a variety of foods. You might not be aware, however, that as many as 9 out of 10 Americans fall short of getting the key nutrients necessary for good health. This means that many people suffer from nutrient deficiencies or shortfalls and don’t even know it, but you would need to talk to a doctor to determine any deficiencies. 

Did You Know:

Over 95% of Americans are not meeting the recommendations for Vitamin D from diet alone.[1] This nutrient shortfall can impact an individual’s overall health and well-being. Vitamin D is a powerhouse nutrient for our overall health that supports various aspects of health, including bone, muscle and the immune system.†

Over 50% of Americans fall short in magnesium.[1] Magnesium is a key mineral that helps support heart, muscle, and nerve function. It also helps convert food into cellular energy.†

Nearly all adults fall short of the recommended intake for EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.[2] EPA and DHA omega-3s help support a healthy heart.†

Although genetics plays a role in determining our health, most of our health outcomes are controlled by our lifestyle. This includes, of course, the dietary choices we make. It's important to be aware of what your current daily diet may be lacking, that way you can work on closing nutrient gaps and addressing any nutrient deficiencies, as determined by your healthcare practitioner. Dietary supplements play an important role in helping to fill nutrient gaps.

Why Are Vitamins and Minerals Important?

Your body needs essential vitamins and minerals to function at an optimal level. If your nutritional status is below the recommended levels, your nutritional status may suffer. Since these nutrients are essential, this means that they are not produced in the body and must come from a balanced diet.  Whether an individual suffers from a shortfall in zinc or calcium, a lack of these essential nutrients may impact the way the body functions. 

Common Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies

Don’t know if you are getting enough calcium? Worried that your vitamin D levels are too low? While you may not notice any symptoms at first, health issues can develop when left untreated. Common health issues that may occur can include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Food cravings
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Occasional constipation

If you begin to experience a nutrient shortfall symptom, the best thing you can do is assess your diet and strive to add healthy foods that may be missing.  Also, consider adding a multivitamin/mineral supplement into your daily routine to help fill in nutrient gaps. Choose a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement that includes a wide range of nutrients to supplement your diet. This will help ensure adequate nutrient intake.

Learn More: What are Multivitamins?

Why is Vitamin D Important for Overall health?

Vitamin D is essential for numerous functions in the body, including bone health, immune system function and cell regulation.[3] Vitamin D also supports muscle function, muscle strength and balance.[4] Vitamin D is naturally found in very few foods, such as fatty fish and egg yolks; some cereals and milk are fortified with it. However, you would have to consume large amounts of these natural and fortified sources to meet your Vitamin D needs. For example, you would need to consume approximately 20 glasses of milk per day [5] to achieve 50 mcg (2000 IU) of Vitamin D, a daily recommended level associated with healthy Vitamin D blood levels.[6]†

Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin D

Are You at Risk for Vitamin D Insufficiency?

Our skin has the unique ability to make Vitamin D through UVB rays from the sun. However, using sunscreen will block nearly 99% of Vitamin D production in the skin. In addition to missing this key nutrient in our diets and limiting sun exposure, there are other factors that increase risk for Vitamin D insufficiency: taking medications that interfere with Vitamin D absorption or metabolism, suffering from a malabsorption syndrome, being older in age, having darker skin, or becoming overweight or obese which increases the need for Vitamin D. A daily Vitamin D supplement can help ensure you are meeting your Vitamin D requirements. Talk to your physician or health care practitioner about getting your Vitamin D level tested, to determine how much Vitamin D is right for you.

Learn More: What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

The Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium helps support nerve, muscle and heart function and is involved in over 300 reactions in the body. This key mineral also plays a role in energy metabolism support, specifically in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or cellular energy, for the body. Magnesium also supports healthy bones and teeth.†

Why are Americans Lacking Magnesium?

Certain factors may lead to low blood concentrations of magnesium. In fact, nearly half of all Americans are lacking in this key mineral.[1] Poor dietary intake of magnesium, increasing age, as well as certain conditions may result in low magnesium in the body.[3,7]

What are Good Food Sources of Magnesium?

Magnesium can be found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, in some nuts including brazil nuts, almonds and cashews, and in whole grains like oat bran cereals and brown rice. If you do not consume many of these foods, consider adding a magnesium supplement to your routine.

Learn More: Healthy Meal Prep Recipes

What are the Benefits of EPA and DHA?

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - the primary omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and fish oil - play a key role in supporting cell health and heart health.[2] EPA and DHA are important parts of cell membranes and help support cell membrane structure. When it comes to your health, EPA and DHA are most notably studied and recommended for their role in helping support a healthy heart.†

Most Americans don't consume enough EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, Americans are missing the mark with these important omega-3s and are consuming far more omega-6 fatty acids (such as corn oil, sesame oil or soybean oil). The ideal and recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should be between 5:1 and 1:1. Instead, most Americans consume these fatty acids at a ratio of between 10:1 and 20:1, and therefore, are unable to reap all the amazing benefits of omega-3s. To ensure that your body is getting all the benefits of EPA and DHA, take a fish oil or omega-3 supplement with a complete meal in order to help support optimal absorption.

Busy lifestyles and the stresses of daily life may lead to poor food choices that impact our nutrient intake. This is a growing problem in the United States as we are experiencing a nutrition crisis that has yet to be addressed. Our bodies need all the essential nutrients to function optimally. Incorporating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein including fish, nuts and legumes, is a great start.[8] To help fill in the gaps from suboptimal nutrient intake, talk to your healthcare provider about a nutritional supplement regimen that is best for you.

Learn More: How Much EPA & DHA Should You Take?

Recommended Food Sources for Essential Vitamins & Minerals

If you have started developing signs of a specific vitamin or nutrient deficiency, or if your last round of blood work showed below-average nutrient levels, you may be wondering how to address a vitamin deficiency. Keep in mind that each deficiency is different. However, one of the easiest ways to help boost essential vitamins and nutrients is to change your diet.

Consider adding these foods to naturally improve your daily vitamin and mineral intake:

  • Vegetables
  • Fatty fish
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds

Learn More: Top Healthy Foods List

Keep in mind, even if you change your diet, you still may experience a vitamin or mineral deficiency. That’s why it is highly recommended to always take a daily multivitamin to increase your dietary intake of all the essential nutrients your body needs to function at an optimal level. The right multivitamin will include nutrients such as vitamin D, Manganese, Zinc, vitamin E, folic acid, and much more. 

Closing the Nutrient Gap

At Nature Made, we offer a wide selection of multivitamin products so you can find the best one to support your lifestyle. Whether you go for women’s daily multivitamins or omega-3 supplements, our selection offers something for everyone. Shop our selection today to support your body’s needs from the inside out.

Learn More About Vitamin Deficiency:

  • Folic Acid Deficiency
  • Biotin Deficiency
  • What are the Signs of Zinc Deficiency?
  • What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

    Follow @NatureMadeVitamins on Instagram for new product news, healthy lifestyle tips, and more.

    † These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


    1. Fulgoni V, et al. Foods, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients? J of Nutrition 2011;141:1847-1854.
    2. Papanikolaou Y, et al. U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003-2008. Nutrition Journal 2014; 13:31. (Based on average daily consumption of 86 mg/day of EPA&DHA vs. 500 mg/day commonly recommended by experts to achieve the equivalent of 2 servings of oily fish/week, which provide approximately 3,500 mg of EPA&DHA per week).
    3. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C. 1997.
    4. Ceglia L, Harris SS. Vitamin D and its role in skeletal muscle. Calcif Tissue Int. 2013;92(2):151-162.
    5. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2012. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,
    6. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol & Metab. 2011;96(7):1911-1930
    7. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to magnesium and "hormonal health", reduction of tiredness and fatigue, contribution to normal psychological functions, maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations, maintenance of normal blood pressure, protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage, maintenance of the normal function of the immune system, maintenance of normal blood pressure during pregnancy, resistance to mental stress, reduction of gastric acid levels, maintenance of normal fat metabolism and maintenance of normal muscle contraction. EFSA Journal 2010:8(10):1807.
    8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 - 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at


      Lynn M. Laboranti, RD

      Science and Health Educator

      Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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