Are you nutrient deficient? Managing nutrient deficiencies through culinary nutrition

I have hypochondriac tendencies. I admit it.

I became most aware of my behavior in hindsight around the time I was in college and graduate school while accumulating vasts amounts of information and integrating it into my research and vivid imagination.

There was the time that I thought I was having prostate issues. That lasted until I looked up what a prostate was, discovering I didn't have one. Or the time when I thought I had some rare fungal infection around the edges of my feet, but it turned out to be dry skin or 'ash' as we call it. In these last several years I have been able to temper and balance my anxiety around health issues for the better, moving towards prevention rather than acute alarm.

One fundamental health issue that is grandly overlooked is mineral and electrolyte deficiencies. Our life styles, top soil quality, climate change and way we process foods all have contributed to decreased amounts of minerals we consume. For example, did you know that up to 80% of the US population is deficient in magnesium? Magnesium plays a huge role in liver detoxification, smooth muscle relaxation, and a vast array of other functions in metabolism. If one is deficient in magnesium, there is a good possibility that other minerals are also deficient.

Medication also can cause deficiencies. Non targeted chemotherapy such as adriamycin, cytoxin, taxol, taxotere, and the platin drugs all are notorious for creating deficiencies in sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. They also create deficiencies in other micronutrients such as zinc and chromium. These deficiencies can cause or exacerbate side effects of treatment. For example a deficiency in potassium can be related to heart rate irregularities, magnesium and potassium in muscle spasms, blood pressure issues, sleep problems; calcium and phosphorus is important to nervous system and bone strength and development. Zinc can play a role in taste changes and appetite loss.

Deficiencies can also cause fatigue.

Broths, preferably homemade, are an excellent source of these nutrients. Broths do not contain a substantial amount of vitamins or protein because the process of making the broth over heat for several hours essentially destroys them, but not the minerals.

For vegetarians I recommend using a set of vegetables high in the desired nutrients. I like to use parsley, cilantro, and beet greens, then spice it up with an onion, garlic and some carrots and celery. These veggies added to 4 to 8 quarts of water and simmered for 4 to 6 hours (don't boil).

For non vegetarians, I recommend using previously roasted organic chicken or turkey bones added to the above, as well as 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses. The simmer time is adjusted to 8 to 12 hours. All the solids are strained from the broth so that with both the vegetarian and non vegetarian you have a clear broth. I would highly recommend not adding any additional salt or other spices. Drinking 1 warmed cup per day is refreshing and repleting. It's the new mug of Joe in the morning!

Of course you should always check with you healthcare professional especially those with co morbidities/pre-existing diseases.