Harvard Women's Health Watch

Important nutrients you could be missing

How to identify—and treat—a nutritional deficiency before it endangers your health.

Most of us worry about eating too much of the wrong foods. Yet we also have to worry that we're not eating enough of the right foods. Skimping on certain food groups can leave us susceptible to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

Some of the medicines we take can also rob our bodies of important nutrients. "As people get older they tend to be on more medicines, and that can lead to nutritional deficiencies," explains Dr. Helen Delichatsios, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Older adults are most susceptible to deficits of the B vitamins, vitamin D, and calcium. Getting too little of these and other nutrients can lead to confusion and memory loss, infections, heart disease, and brittle bones.

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