In assessing the nutrient adequacy of my patients, there are three nutrients in particular that are commonly overlooked. These include magnesium, selenium, and vitamin D. In the case of magnesium, intake is frequently inadequate to provide RDA levels. In the case of selenium, intake may be inadequate to provide two of this nutrient’s primary benefits. In the case of vitamin D, deficiency/insufficiency may be overt.
Magnesium plays structural roles in bone, cell membranes, and chromosomes, and is also needed for hundreds of metabolic reactions. Magnesium deficiency symptoms include hypocalcemcia, low serum potassium levels, retention of sodium, low circulating levels of parathyroid hormone, muscular tremors/spasms, tetany, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and personality changes. Adults 31 years and older require 420/320 mg/day.
Selenium is incorporated into a number of antioxidant enzymes that offer protection from free radicals, other reactive oxygen species, help regenerate several antioxidants and regulate cell growth and viability, and help produce biologically active thyroid hormone. They are also thought to play a role in muscle metabolism and to function in sperm formation, and may be involved in inflammatory and immune responses. Deficiency symptoms include confusion, depression, anxiety, and uncertainty. It may also include worsened muscle function and an impaired immune system leaving the body susceptible to infection. Adults require 200 mcg daily of selenium.
Vitamin D is best known for its role in helping to facilitate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and so helping to promote bone health. It also helps in the production of specific cells, boosts the immune system, plays a role in insulin secretion, and important for decreasing the risk of high blood pressure. Many symptoms can manifest from a vitamin D deficiency. Adults require at least 2,000 IU’s of supplemental vitamin D daily and if healthy adults and adolescents regularly avoid sunlight exposure, then it is necessary to supplement with at least 5,000 IU’s of vitamin D daily. There are two forms of vitamin D available as a dietary supplement: cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2). Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is the form made in the human body, and is more active then ergocalciferol (vitamin D2). So when searching for a vitamin D supplement make sure it is in the form of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).