5 nutrient deficiencies that lead to low energy

It’s true – we should be able to get all the nutrients we need from our diet. But the fact is that we don’t. If we ignore the reality that ultra processed foods make up 73% of the US food supply, eating a wholefoods-based diet still may not be enough to get the nutrients we need thanks to the declining health of our soil.

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Due to intensive modern farming practices, the nutrients in soil is slowly declining globally – compromising the nutritional content of our fruit and vegetables as a result. This means that even if we ate just like our ancestors, it’s a lot more difficult for us to receive all the nutrients we need from food alone.

  • Studies reveal that as a result of a decline in soil fertility, a number of nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and grains have declined.
  • Trace minerals like manganese, copper and zinc have decreased over the few decades, and the magnesium content found in vegetables and wheat declined by up to 23%.

Since every cell in your body relies on vitamins and minerals to keep everything running smoothly - it's no surprise that nutrient deficiencies are closely linked to fatigue. So if you're feeling fatigued or lacking energy, it's likely that you may be running low on a few crucial nutrients that support energy production.

5 nutrient deficiencies that lead to low energy

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is crucial for your health in many ways. From supporting immune function and assisting collagen production, to protecting the body from free radical damage caused by oxidative stress. By supporting the body’s ability to adapt to oxidative stress and assisting the body with energy production, vitamin C supports healthy energy levels and reduces fatigue while contributing to the normal running of a healthy metabolism.

Foods rich in vitamin C

Kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, tomato, oranges, strawberries.


This crucial mineral is involved in many critical functions within the body, including creating red blood cells which carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. While the main responsibility of this mineral is to transport oxygen in the blood, it's also crucial for growth and development, among many other functions.

There are two types of iron – heme iron (iron derived from animal sources), and non-heme iron (iron derived from plant-based sources). The body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron as well as it absorbs heme iron, which means that vegetarians or those who largely follow a plant-based diet will need to reach for double the recommended daily intake to make up for the lack of absorption. A tip to help the absorption of iron from iron-rich foods is to eat them in combination with foods rich in vitamin C.

Foods rich in iron

  • Grass-fed beef, organ meat, spinach, tofu and tempeh, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas.
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Like iron, B12 plays a critical role in the production of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to the rest of the body. Like all B vitamins, B12 acts as a coenzyme in the energy production process. It’s required for converting protein and fat into energy for the body to function, and it’s also essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. B12 is a vitamin that crosses over into many other important functions, and getting enough of it helps to maintain brain function and development, and supports neurological health.

If you don’t eat a lot of dairy or animal products, have a history of digestive complications and experience fatigue – you may want to test your B12 levels to make sure you’re not deficient.

Foods rich in B12

  • Dairy products, meat, eggs, fish, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast.


Magnesium is a crucial mineral involved in over 600 reactions in the body. It has far-reaching effects that benefit energy production, brain health, cardiovascular function, sleep, athletic performance and so much more. Studies suggest that the typical US adult gets less than 50% of the daily recommended intake of magnesium, and as the fourth most abundant mineral in the body – a deficiency in magnesium can be detrimental to your health. As a cofactor in so many biochemical reactions within the body, magnesium is key for many processes involved in energy and performance.

Foods rich in magnesium

Spinach and other green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chia seeds), bananas, avocado.

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Omega-3 fatty acids

The benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acids have been extensively explored, with studies showing that these fatty acids can support brain health and development, skin, mood, joints and neurological function. There are many different variations of omega-3 fatty acids, but the most important ones to remember are EPA, DHA and ALA (which the body converts into EPA and DHA). Both EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fish and seafood, while ALA can be found in plant foods like chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for your cell health, because they make up an important component of your cell membranes which helps your cells communicate with one another. Signs you may be low in omega-3 fatty acids include poor focus, lack of concentration, dry skin, low energy, fatigue and low mood.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Wild caught salmon, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil. It’s estimated that only 5% of ALA is converted to EPA and even less into DHA. This means that despite ALA rich foods being more abundant than foods rich in EPA and DHA, relying on chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts to help you meet your omega-3 intake is going to be ineffective.

Consider the function of your cells

In the process of uncovering the root cause of fatigue, it’s important to consider the health of your cells. You are made up of trillions of cells that form the building blocks of your body. Healthy cells are foundational to your overall health and wellbeing, and to have healthy cells – we need to be giving our cells (and the mitochondria that live inside them) the nutrients they need to function optimally.

  • Nutrient deficiencies can have a significant impact on cell function, impacting the way your mitochondria (and your entire body) produce and utilize energy.
  • The body requires specific nutrients, minerals and cofactors support energy production within each cell, and CoQ10 is a critical coenzyme involved in the way our body produces energy.
  • The production of CoQ10 in the body is dependent on various nutrients, and additionally, the body’s ability to produce CoQ10 reduces as we age.

To support the body at a cellular level, making sure that the body has an adequate supply of CoQ10 to support cell function and optimize energy production is key.

Learn more about CoQ10 here

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