Size Matters – Chapter Ten – Avoiding Nutritional Deficiency.

I often use the term ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’ to describe what I believe is the root cause of the majority of illnesses.  I also call those diseases ‘Lifestyle Induced’.

It is in our own hands to make a difference and I know that making changes looks like it will be a costly or time consuming option, but really it is not.

For example, just simply adding sweet potato into your diet three or four times a week can reverse eye-damaging Vitamin A deficiency in a relatively short space of time. Tasty, can be cooked in one 20 minute session and stored in the fridge.

I do take some supplements, particularly those that are manufactured by the body but in decreasing quantities as we get older. Also I do not do winter very well and whilst I have enjoyed getting my Vitamin D from sunshine for the last 8 months, I now am taking some Vitamin D in spray form along with other nutrients needed to enable it to be absorbed such as calcium.

I will up my foods that supply those particular nutrients in the coming months and we are now eating our winter diet of brightly coloured root vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes, broccoli and other green leafed vegetables such as kale, and canned fish such as sardines and salmon.

In Chapter Ten of Size Matters I am giving you a brief overview of some of the symptoms associated with a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Not overly common in our westernised cultures but with the increased emphasis on dieting and the use of packaged foods we are all at risk.


Size Matters – Chapter Ten -Avoiding Nutritional Deficiency

I believe that we should be obtaining the majority of our nutrients from the food that we eat. However, if you have been poorly nourished for an extended period of time both as a serial dieter or because you have had a nutrient-sterile food intake, I suggest that you do consider taking a supplement.

I have come to the conclusion after several years that tablets do not necessarily offer the best option for me. I appear to obtain the most benefit from liquid supplementation and so I take Aloe Vera gel in drink form and I also have a green smoothie for breakfast with a number of nutrient-dense ingredients like wheat grass and flaxseeds.

If we were in my health food shop that I owned I would take down your personal and health history and then recommend a specific regimen for you. As we cannot do that I suggest that you go to a recognised nutritional therapist or a high standard health food shop and ask for expert advice.

In the following pages I have listed the major vitamins and minerals that are needed for general good health. The best way to get these vitamins and minerals is to eat the foods that contain them, so it is worth noting which foods will provide you with these nutrients and then including them in your program to ensure a healthy, balanced diet.

If you need more detail on the general properties of vitamins and minerals you can get this from a post in my nutritional directory or from a good quality high street health food shop.

One important reason to focus on vitamins and minerals is that you need to understand exactly what affects you can expect from a consistently poor diet. Most vitamin and mineral deficiency problems are cumulative over a long period of time.

If you deprive your cells of the nutrients they need for their health, they will degenerate and begin to fail. It is not my intention to frighten anyone into taking supplements, but you must make sure that you have a varied and healthy diet so that you absorb adequate levels of each vitamin and mineral.

It is unlikely that you will be suffering from deficiencies of any of the major vitamins if you have a healthy diet. Unfortunately, if you have been a ‘yo-yo’ dieter for most of your adult life, you will have suffered a reduced intake of these nutrients for extended periods of time.

The other worrying aspect of over-farming in certain areas is that the soil is becoming nutritionally deplete. This means that the vegetables that look bright green or orange are not as nutritious as they were 20 or 30 years ago. For this reason I eat at least 8 portions of vegetables and some fruits a day, not the recommended five.

A deficiency can be rectified by changing to a healthy eating program and where appropriate including a nutrient dense supplement in your diet. Take note of the following effects of vitamin deficiencies, so that you understand the impact that restrictive diets, or prolonged starvation, can have.

Bear in mind that this is a very brief overview to give you an idea of how a deficiency of even one major nutrient can affect your health. This is an important part of taking back control of your weight and health and I urge you to find out more.

root vegetables


Vitamin A
A deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to various physical changes in the eyes and eventually to blindness. A marginal Vitamin A deficiency will contribute to increased susceptibility to respiratory tract infections and skin problems, dry hair or loss of hair, and weight loss.

A deficiency of this vitamin is generally unlikely in the western world, unless you have a very poor diet or abstain from any animal products or follow an extremely low-fat diet.

Vitamin A can be found in: halibut and cod-liver oil, lamb’s liver, fish oils, apricots, full-fat dairy products, eggs, yellow and orange vegetables, green vegetables and tomatoes.

A deficiency of beta-carotene would show symptoms similar to a deficiency of vitamin A.

The best food sources are: carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried apricots and watercress.

B vitamins
The group of B vitamins is wide-ranging, with different functions relating to the central nervous system and connective tissue. Vegetarians and Vegans may be susceptible to deficiency and need to take supplements to ensure that they get adequate levels of this group of vitamins.

(B1) Thiamin
A minor lack of B1 can cause depression, irritability and lack of concentration. A major deficiency is rare in western culture but can result in beriberi (muscle weakness, nausea, loss of appetite and water retention).

The best foods for B1 are: yeast extract, fortified breakfast cereals, soya beans, pork chops, brown rice, seafood, liver, nuts, poultry, potatoes and milk.

(B2) Riboflavin
A lack of this vitamin will lead to oral complaints such as sore and even burning lips and tongue. The eyes can also be affected with burning, itchiness and visual fatigue. Other symptoms are hair loss, insomnia and trembling.

The best sources for B2 are: yeast extract, lamb’s liver, pig’s kidney, cereal, wheat-germ, cheese, eggs, green vegetables, beans and peas.

(B3) Niacin or Nicotinic acid
Insufficient B3 can lead to tiredness, depression, loss of memory, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea and headaches.

Rich sources of this vitamin are: tuna, chicken’s liver, chicken meat, wheat-germ, brown rice, peanuts, brewer’s yeast, eggs, fish and dried fruit.

(B5) Pantothenic acid
A deficiency of B5 can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness and gastro-intestinal upsets.

The best foods to eat are: brewer’s yeast, pig’s liver, yeast extract, nuts, wheat bran, wheat-germ, beans, split peas, oranges and egg yolk.

(B6) Pyridoxine
B6 deficiency can lead to recurrent infections or extreme cases of premenstrual tension (PMS). You need to have a diet rich in the following: green vegetables, brewer’s yeast, yeast extract, fish, prunes, raisins, soya beans, flour, whole-grain cereals, milk, wheat-germ, bananas and chicken.

(B9) Folic acid
B9 has had quite a lot of publicity in recent years. A deficiency of B9 in the diet can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, usually in the elderly. Also poor growth in babies and children. A deficiency in pregnancy may lead to foetal problems such as spina-bifida.

Foods that contain B9 are: liver, kidney, most meat, green vegetables, brewer’s yeast, yeast extract, wheat-germ and beans.

Deficiency of B12 can produce conditions such as pernicious anaemia, loss of appetite, fatigue. A severe deficiency can lead to degeneration of the nervous system, causing mobility and speaking difficulties.

The best sources of Vitamin B12 are: eggs, milk, cheese, milk products, meat, fish, shellfish and poultry.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, lowered immunity, bleeding or soft gums, loose teeth, tender joints, muscle degeneration, irritability and anaemia.

It is easily absorbed from raw fruit and vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, mango, rose hip, chillies and peppers.

Vitamin D
A vitamin D deficiency is rare these days. It used to cause rickets in young children and is linked to osteoporosis, dental cavities and cramping muscles.

Vitamin D is absorbed from sunlight through the skin. It is also obtained from: liver, oily fish, egg yolk, full-fat dairy products.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E deficiency is linked to fat absorption problems, causing dull hair, muscle weakness, possible prostate gland enlargement, and even miscarriages.

Vitamin E is found in most foods, but mainly vegetable oils, egg yolks, whole-grain cereals, wheat-germ, green vegetables, nuts, seeds and margarine.

Vitamin K1
The last major vitamin is vitamin K. A deficiency in this vitamin is rare but can be caused by the long-term use of antibiotics, resulting in bleeding below the skin, nosebleeds and diarrhoea.

This vitamin is mainly found in green vegetables, seaweed (kelp), liver, potatoes and wheat-germ.


Minerals are as important as vitamins and they often work together to enhance each other’s performance. For instance, calcium and vitamin D are better taken together to enable absorption of the calcium. I have listed the most common minerals that should be included in every healthy diet.

Deficiency symptoms can range from rickets to osteomalacia, the equivalent of rickets in adults. In women, a cumulative deficiency from puberty can lead to premenstrual syndrome and osteoporosis.

Calcium is found in dairy products, hard tap-water, fish (especially sardines and pilchards), watercress, fortified cereals and wholegrain flour products.

A lack of Iron can cause anaemia and, in extreme cases, the suppression of the immune system resulting in frequent infections.

Iron is found in red meat, kidney, liver, pulses, dried apricots and figs, cocoa, fortified flour products, cereals and nuts (especially almonds and walnuts).

A deficiency of Magnesium can result in muscle cramps, low blood sugar, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and weakness. It can also cause premenstrual tension and occasionally hypoglycaemia. Magnesium can also be a powerful remedy for PMS if taken in conjunction with calcium.

Magnesium can be found in peanuts, wholemeal bread, dairy products, eggs, pulses, shellfish, potatoes, white fish and chicken.

One thing to be aware of when taking magnesium as a supplement is that it may interfere with the function of tetracycline antibiotics, so they should always be taken several hours apart.

Lack of Potassium can lead to vomiting, abdominal distension, muscular weakness, paralysis, pins and needles, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, thirst and, in extreme cases, drowsiness and coma.

Potassium is found in most foods, but in particular, in fresh fruit, vegetables (including potatoes), meat, wholemeal flour, cereals, milk, coffee, tea and salt substitutes.

A lack of Sodium may result in dehydration, which causes low blood pressure.

The most common sources of sodium are: salt, baking powder, cured meats, smoked fish, tinned meats and bakery products. Most processed foods contain an element of sodium. Bear in mind that too much sodium results in high blood pressure which can be very dangerous.

This is a mineral which plays an important role in maintaining our blood sugar levels. It is rare to have an extreme deficiency, but a lack of chromium can cause irritability, confusion, weakness and depression. A lack of this mineral has also been linked to sugar cravings or a ‘sweet tooth’ attributable to fluctuating blood sugar levels. The most common foods containing chromium are whole-grain flour, cereals and fresh fruits, nuts, liver, kidney and beef.

Iodine levels affect our metabolism. A lack can lead to drowsiness, lethargy, fatigue and increased weight.

You will find the most useful sources are iodised table salt, seafood, kelp, meat, fruit and vegetables.

A selenium deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease and some types of anaemia. It is more effective when taken with vitamin E.

Food sources are kidney and liver, fish and shellfish, meat, whole grains and cereals, dairy products, fruit and vegetables.

Last but not least is zinc. People who suffer from frequent infections, delayed wound healing, reduced appetite, decreased sense of smell or taste, skin disorders and white marks on their nails may have a zinc deficiency.

Because it is mainly found in meats, eggs and dairy produce, people on a restricted vegan diet may suffer from a lack of this mineral. It is important to eat whole-grain flour products, cereals and, if possible, seafood.

As you can see from this list, a widely varied diet will ensure that you receive the full spectrum of nutrients your body needs. If you have a heavy exercise schedule or are recovering from an illness, you may require additional help in the form of a high potency vitamin and mineral supplement. Always choose a good-quality supplement that is suited to your age and lifestyle. A pharmacist or staff in a health food shop will be happy to tell you about the choices that are available.

You can find the other nine chapters in this directory.

©sallygeorginacronin 2001 – 2015 Size Matters and Just food for Health.

Please feel free to share and help spread the word.

thanks Sally

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Action Plan and shopping list.


Over the last two posts on SAD we have been on a journey from the cave and the struggles of ancient man to survive the harsh winter cold with minimum access to light, food, heat and stimulation. On that journey we have explored the causes of modern man’s struggle to adapt to the modern world of technology and 24/7 light, noise and stimulation of all the senses. The solutions are not perfect but the areas that we have covered are the starting point to changing the way we look at both our bodies and how we manage the seasonal changes most of us face.

A quick recap – we need healthy amounts of Vitamin D from sunshine and some foods and healthy cholesterol to produce all hormones in our body. Tryptophan and B-vitamin rich foods to produce essential hormones in the brain – melatonin and serotonin. We have to eat these foods regularly throughout the day. Better to have 6 smaller meals of the right foods than starve all day and then have a big meal at night that cannot be digested and processed by the body. This regularity will also drip feed the essential nutrients into your body, keeping energy levels higher and the neurotransmitters in your brain firing on all cylinders. Avoid taking in high carbohydrate and sweet foods later at night. A cup of warm milk with a small teaspoon of honey before bed will help activate the melatonin to send you to sleep.


We need to exercise, (with music particularly) to stimulate the production of dopamine and activate our reward centres in the brain and we need the support, companionship and warmth of our clan – that is to say our family and close friends.  Having a dog that needs to be walked will not only encourage you to exercise all year around but also has added health benefits associated with caring for a pet.

I appreciate that for those working full-time it is difficult to establish a regular exercise pattern but if you really want to feel alive and vital through these next few months (Australians and South Africans are of course are exempt as they move into summer) then you are going to have to find ways to get outside during the daylight hours and get some exercise. So lunchtimes will have to be – 30 minutes brisk walk and then back for a protein, vegetable or salad, moderate carbohydrate lunch.

Filling your lungs with oxygen and maintaining flexibility are two very important factors as we age and if you suffer from arthritis or any other joint related disease, gentle but regular movement is essential.  (you will find a link to some breathing exercises at the end of the post)


You can go to the gym, a swimming pool and if you do not have access to that sort of facility then buy a treadmill, second hand ones are quite reasonable, or simply put your favourite music on and dance like no-one is watching!!


The clan would have worked together, sitting by the fires which produced the only light, telling stories, educating the young, working on the first tools and fashioning utensils from natural sources such as the autumn gourds. Even perhaps, making drums from those gourds and producing the first beats of music. I am sure that laughter was part of those dark days and nights as humour cannot just have developed in our modern world. The dynamics of the relationships within the clan can only be imagined because despite all the evidence found, we simply were not there!

The good news is that even if you are separated by thousands of miles or even a few hundred you can still keep in touch with your clan members and friends. The virtual cave we all live in now offers a wonderful opportunity to stay engaged with the world, learn new skills online, have conference calls via Skype, catch up with gossip on Twitter or Facebook and communicate. Keeping our brain exercised, eating a nutrient rich diet and taking a 30 minute brisk walk daily may keep us whole in body, mind and soul our entire lives.

I firmly believe that our bodies contain ancestral memory. And, because our DNA mutates so infrequently every 10,000 years or so, like instinctive behaviour in all animals, we do have deep seated and essential needs for certain foods, nutrients, activities, emotional connections and mental stimulation that we still must provide to be healthy physically and mentally and to be simply happy. However, you cannot just sit passively and wait for all these elements to come together magically. You have to grab with both hands and participate.

So you now have the components for the plan to make this winter healthier and mentally manageable.

I have given you the elements for the project – but you are the one who needs to put it into practice. It will not be easy to change habits of a lifetime, or get into a new routine with new foods having given up those you feel you get comfort from. However, many years ago I had to make those same decisions and now winter is simply a beautiful season that is to be enjoyed and not feared.

As an additional tool I have put together a shopping list with a difference. You can cut and paste in to your word documents and then print off to take with you next time you buy food.


Most of us make a shopping list based on our preferences, tastes and sometimes pocket. But I have a slightly different method that you might find useful. The chemical interactions within our body that are essential for life – including the healthy functioning of our immune system – are only made possible by the raw ingredients in our diet. Even if you are having the occasional food fest, if your basic diet contains the right raw ingredients it won’t matter to your body. It is the everyday ingestion of sugars, Trans fats and white starches that cripples the system – remember the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the time your body is getting what it needs, 20% of the time you can have what your heart and taste buds would like too. Here are three lists – the nutrients we need – then the foods that are some of the best sources for those nutrients and then a basic shopping list that will provide your body with the raw ingredients for long term health.


Vitamins and anti-oxidants – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (Folate) B12, C, D, E, K,
Minerals – Calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc.
Amino Acids –   Essential Fatty Acids – Bioflavonoids – very strong anti-oxidants.


Quite a few foods fall into several categories so I will give you the top sources within the groups- these are the foods that should make up your basic shopping with seasonal fruits and vegetables when available.


For example, spinach has Vitamin A, B1, B2, B9, E, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium – I have included in the first group only. (Popeye knew what he was doing)
Vitamin A – carrots, red peppers, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe melon, nectarines, peaches and spinach. Cashew nuts.
Vitamin B1 – Pineapple, watermelon, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oats, brown rice, lentils, beans, eggs, lean ham and pork.
B2 – All green leafy vegetables, fish, milk, wheat germ, liver and kidney
B3 – Asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, wholegrain bread and cereals. Turkey, Salmon, tuna, and cheese.
B5 – Corn, Cauliflower, Brewer’s yeast, avocado, duck, soybeans, lobster and strawberries.
B6 – Walnuts, bananas, lamb
B9 (folate) – nuts, beans and dark green vegetables.
B12 – offal, dairy, marmite,
Vitamin C – virtually all fruit and vegetables already mentioned but also blackcurrants, blueberries, kiwi, cherries, grapefruits, oranges and watercress.
Vitamin D – Eggs, tinned salmon – fresh and tinned herrings.
Vitamin E – almonds, maize, apples, onions, shell fish, sunflower oil.
Vitamin K – dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, eggs.


Calcium – dairy, sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables.
Chromium – Whole grains, potatoes, onions and tomatoes – liver, seafood, cheese, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and pork
Copper – olives, nuts, beans, wholegrain cereals, dried fruits, meat, fish and poultry.
Iodine – cod, mackerel, haddock, eggs, live yoghurt, milk and strawberries.
Iron – shellfish, prunes, spinach, meats, cocoa.
Magnesium –dairy, seafood, apples, apricots, avocado, brown rice, spinach.
Manganese – beans, brown rice, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts, fresh fruit.
Phosphorus – poultry, whole grains.
Potassium – most fresh fruit and vegetables but in particular bananas, apricots, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, nectarines, potatoes.
Selenium – halibut, cod, salmon and tuna, mushrooms and Brazil Nuts.
Sodium – usually enough in our food but no more than 1 level teaspoon a day.
Zinc– seafood, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks and tofu.

pumpkin seeds

Essential fatty acids –
Omega 3 – flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, avocados, dark green vegetables, poultry and salmon.
Omega 6 – olive oil and some of the above.
Omega 9 – avocado, olives, almonds.
Amino Acids – dairy products, fish, meat, poultry, soybeans, nuts and seeds.

To ensure that you have everything in your basic diet to provide the nutrients you need your shopping list would look something like the following. Aim for at least 8 portions of fruit and vegetables per day not five. If you eat these foods each week you will be providing your body with the basic nutrients it needs to be healthy – you can obviously add other foods when you are eating out or for variety. Do try and avoid processed foods – pre-cut vegetables (lost high percentage of nutrients) and make sauces from these fresh ingredients for pasta and rice dishes. Make your own whole grain pizza base with fresh toppings. You will notice the difference in flavour.

Vegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes.

Fruit – Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, kiwi and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. When in season – pineapples, apricots, cantaloupe melon, watermelon.

Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain bread – whole wheat pasta – Weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats. If you make your own bread then use wholegrain flour. Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals – more sugar than goodness.

Fish – Salmon fresh and tinned- cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, Tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals.

Meat and poultry and Tofu- chicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork. Lean ham for sandwiches, Venison if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious. Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non-vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers. Bacon once a week is fine but do bear in mind that most processed meats contain a lot of salt.

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.

Dairy and Eggs- milk, butter and cheese (better to have the real stuff than whipped margarine) – yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four a week.

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff.

Honey and extras – rather than spoonfuls of sugar on your cereal etc, try honey. Try and find a local honey to you. Dark chocolate – over 70% a one or two squares per day particularly with a lovely cup of Americano coffee is a delicious way to get your antioxidants. Cocoa is great with some hot milk before bed – antioxidants and melatonin in a cup.

I know how devastating the effects of the dark months can be, not just on those who suffer the symptoms but for the people in their lives. Having read the last week or so of blogs, I hope you will find a new way of eating and living that will help you.

Here is the link to the last two SAD posts and one on the importance of breathing correctly.

If you need any more information or need some help then you are very welcome to email me on

Please leave your comments and also reblog if you feel that others might find this series of interest.

Thank you Sally