Common Nutrient Deficiencies: Signs & Symptoms

Have you ever had vague or strange symptoms that your doctor just couldn't diagnose? Have you ever wondered if your ambiguous symptoms and general malaise could ever be linked to a nutritional deficiency? Unfortunately, nutrient deficiencies and insufficiencies aren't as uncommon as would be expected in developed countries.


You shouldn't be. Studies show that if you're eating a western diet (Standard American Diet or SAD), then you're not getting enough nutrients like magnesium or choline. Sad indeed, right?

The sad (sorry for the puns) reality is that our food supply has been pretty much hijacked by companies that don't necessarily have your best interest in mind. The bottom line, the almighty dollar, is these companies biggest concern, not nutrition.

So how would you know if some of the symptoms you are having are due to nutrient deficiencies? It's not like your doctor will ask for a detailed diet diary and order labs to access nutrient analysis (unless you're seeing a naturopathic doctor).

If you've been having unexplained symptoms that are hard to diagnose, here are some of the most common nutrient deficiencies and insufficiencies with signs and symptoms.

*Note: There's a difference between a deficiency and an insufficiency. A deficiency is considered a clinical disease that needs immediate treatment An insufficiency may not even be recognized by your clinician although you have many signs and symptoms of lacking a specific nutrient or nutrients.


Magnesium is a common nutrient deficiency worldwide with studies estimating that those eating western diets have a dietary magnesium intake up to less than 50% of the recommended daily intake.

Magnesium is a necessary nutrient for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It's needed for protein synthesis, conduction of muscle and nerve cells, and blood sugar control. Just to name a few.

Magnesium deficiency and insufficiency signs

Some of the signs and symptoms of magnesium insufficiency include:

High blood pressure

Migraine headaches

Depression, irritability, and mood disturbances

Poor quality sleep or lack of sleep

Cramps, muscle aches, and pains


Insulin resistance

Frank magnesium deficiency can be fatal causing heart arrhythmia, seizures, and low potassium.


Choline is a nutrient that can act as a methyl group donor in many different metabolic processes. It also acts as building block for phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, molecules that help build cell membranes.

Choline is also necessary for proper brain and liver function. In fact, choline it's estimated that many adults and children have an inadequate daily intake of choline especially among college students, children with a low socioeconomic status, and adults eating a SAD diet.

Although the National Institutes of Health would say that choline deficiency is rare, there is evidence that the increased prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, that many individuals aren't consuming enough choline.

NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is caused, in part, by a lack of choline.

Choline Deficiency and Insufficiency signs