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The difference between nutrient deficiencies and insufficiencies

We often hear about nutrient deficiencies – a severe shortage of a specific nutrient. Yet, what about insufficiencies? While the subtler shortfall may not present as obvious symptoms, insufficiencies can still affect our vitality. Clinicians know these subtleties well, but how often do we pause to consider them for ourselves?

Picture it like this. Imagine your body as a meticulously tailored garment. When discussing nutrients, the distinction between deficiencies and insufficiencies is akin to distinguishing between a missing sleeve and a fraying cuff. One is entirely dysfunctional and the other is just a little tattered at the edges. Both matter, yet understanding the distinction is pivotal as it’s the difference between preventative care and reactive treatment.

For instance, a stark deficiency of vitamin C leads to scurvy, a condition marked by swollen gums, joint pain and fatigue. It’s easier to diagnose a condition like scurvy because the symptoms are evident and clinicians have a set of diagnosable symptoms to line up against.

A vitamin C insufficiency, on the other hand, might not always be so easy to recognise. You could be getting sick more often or having more frequent histamine reactions, for example. Yet, these symptoms might not immediately be put down to a vitamin C issue as there could also be numerous other things causing your challenges.

Acknowledging insufficiencies early on can be a preventative measure. After all, it’s far easier to mend a fraying cuff than to stitch an entire sleeve. Lower than ideal vitamin D levels can lead to bone weakness, yet when caught early, we can potentially prevent or delay osteoporosis from developing.

While blood tests can be useful in assessing nutrient status, they’re not always necessary. Simple nutritional changes can be highly effective at correcting nutrient insufficiencies (and, at times, even deficiencies) without further intervention. To put it simply – eat more food, not junk! That said, if you’re experiencing persistent symptoms and you aren’t sure what’s driving them, it can be immensely beneficial to do some further investigations with the help of your health care professional to see if you can figure out what’s going on.

Click here to read more about Jenny Brooks, the senior practitioner at the Dr Libby Clinic.

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