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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in Australia?

    Related Topic
    I am new to the country and would like to know this to ensure I keep healthy.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Carol Turner

    HealthShare Member

    Hi Matt,   I was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency about 18mths ago but not certain just how common this particular deficiency is in Australia.

  • Dale Hurwitz

    HealthShare Member

    A medical student recently told me that these days Australians are taking ‘slip slop slapping’ too seriously and vitamin D deficiency is becoming a problem. I found that surprising.

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    Having gathered 28 years of private practice experience , Genevieve wants to assist people with practical changes to their food and lifestyle issues in order … View Profile

    Generally speaking, Australians are neither vitamin nor mineral deficient. Billions of dollars are spent on supplements which are not required. The food supply in most parts of Australia is fresh, varied and healthy. You can meet your dietary requirements of these tiny metabolites simply through eating food.
    However, there appears to be an increasing amount of Vitamin D deficiency occurring in the community; its cause is being investigated but currently remains unknown. Vitamin D is a fat soluble  vitamin and made by the body on exposure to the sunshine.
    Also, the iodine content of the soil has been depleted in recent years and so iodized salt is being used again by food manufacturers, and it is recommended that you use iodized salt if you use table salt at home.

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    Melanie McGrice is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, one of the few dietitians in Australia to achieve that status. Her success has made her an … View Profile

    I agree with Genevieve that vitamin D is one of our most common nutritional deficiencies, so it's worth getting this tested by your GP every few years (you can take supplements to top this up if needed).  Iron deficiency is also a common problem - so if you are really tired and cold all of the time, it would be worth getting this tested by your GP too - especially if you eat a vegetarian diet, are a young woman or do a lot of exercise.

    B12 is really only an issue for people who are vegetarian or who don't absorb it well.  And, you're right that our Australian soils are deficient in iodine - which is why bread is now fortified with iodine - so this shouldn't be a problem for you unless you don't bread.

    The only nutritional supplement which I believe everyone should take is fish oil tablets, as the omega 3 is so good for us.

    However, I'd recommend that you get a Nutrition Assessment by an Accredited Practising Dietitian every couple of years, and that way you know exactly how you're progressing.  They'll give you a complete assessment and report.  Some nutrients (such as zinc) can't be accurately tested via a blood test, so need to be assessed via your dietary analysis.  See www.daa.asn.au to find someone local.

    Hope this helps!

    Melanie
    www.health-kick.com.au

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    Thanks

    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Raindrops, I may be able to help you understand why you cannot absorb vitamin B12 from your foods.

    In order to effectively absorb vitamin B12 you're stomach needs to produce a special protein that is known as “intrinsic factor” or IF. Without adequate amounts of this protein or IF, your small intestine cannot absorb vitamin B12 properly.

    Some reasons why people do not produce enough IF include:

    • autoimmune disease which causes the stomach lining to waste away (atropic gastritis)
    • bariatric surgery
    • stomach tumors
    • gastric ulcers
    • excessive consumption of alcohol
    The injections you recieve will often contain both the vitamin B12 and intrinsic factor to help absorption. For more information seek the advice of your doctor. You may also wish to seek the expert advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can ensure that your diet is adequate in all vitamins and minerals to suit your needs. To find one locally log onto www.daa.asn.au

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