In the developed world, it’s difficult to think of nutrient deficiencies as commonplace. Yet, the evidence clearly shows this is the case. Studies in healthy adults of all ages, particularly those with chronic disease, find that many people are not meeting recommended daily amounts of a variety of micronutrients. These include – but are not limited to – Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc.
To illustrate the point, one in five people in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D, increasing to a staggering 90% for those with Rheumatoid arthritis. Even among healthy people aged 20-59 years, 50% of women and 26% men consume less than the LRNI (Lower Reference Nutrient Intake) for Selenium. In other words, perilously low levels. Average intakes of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc are also suboptimal, all below the RNI (Reference Nutrient Intake), according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which analyses mean daily intakes of the UK population.
In chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, many of these nutrients are used as co-factors to support the perpetual underlying inflammatory response. It’s therefore not surprising they become depleted over time, if not adequately replenished. Some drug therapies used to alleviate arthritis symptoms, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can also increase the need for these nutrients, while reducing their absorption. Talk about a triple whammy!
Over time, these nutrient deficiencies can lead to a range of complications, such as worsening symptoms, impaired immune response, anaemia, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. And if that wasn’t enough, we now have the ever-looming threat of Covid-19 and winter fast approaching. Now, more than ever, it’s time to ensure our nutritional status is in tip-top condition.
Alongside others - namely Vitamin A, C, E, some B vitamins and copper – every nutrient mentioned above is recognised as essential for the optimal functioning of the immune system. Another good reason to ensure your diet is packed full of these mighty unsung heroes. Here’s our guide to how…