By Alexander Crown
The discovery of vitamins by scientists and medical professionals was a long and slow process that really came to fruition in the 20th century. Prior to these important revelations, cultures knew that eating certain foods would benefit them in certain ways, or cooking methods could have healthier properties than others even though words like nutrients, vitamins, and minerals were not part of anyone’s vocabulary. Here, we are diving into a few somewhat common deficiencies, what they look like, how they happen, and ways you can be prepared to prevent them in the first place. As you begin reading, bear in mind this guide is in no way intended for diagnosing or treating medical conditions. If you have any of these issues seek a medical professional.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid as it is referred to is a well-known and heavily advertised vitamin, especially now. This important vitamin is necessary for healthy production of blood vessels, cartilage, and muscles. Vitamin C also plays an important role in protecting your body from harmful intruders like tobacco smoke, and radiation from the sun amongst other things. A lack in Vitamin C can lead to numerous ailments and conditions such as skin problems, rashes, painful joints, and slow healing. A notable Vitamin C deficiency issue in humans is scurvy. Scurvy causes muscle aches and weakness early on followed by intense fatigue, gum disease, and bleeding from the skin. It is nasty and easily preventable with proper intake of Vitamin C.
The current daily recommended amount of Vitamin C for adults is between 65-90 mg, this is usually covered by a healthy diet (the body does not produce Vitamin C naturally) but when disaster strikes a healthy diet may not be possible or practical.
Nutrient Survival recommended consumption: Homestyle Scramble Single (54mg Vitamin C equivalent to 70% DV per serving)
Iron is a word we all know but may not fully understand. This mineral is important for growth and development, particularly of hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Myoglobin, also a protein, brings oxygen to the muscles. You can see why iron is important for mobility and overall health, especially when physical activity will be prolonged. Iron deficiency anemia is when blood lacks those healthy red blood cells and cannot carry the necessary amount of oxygen. Lacking iron in the body can lead to a host of problems, most notably fatigue and weakness but also headaches, dizziness, and weird cravings for non-nutritious things like dirt or ice. The recommended daily amount of iron is 13.7 mg-15.1mg/ day for children 2-11 years, 16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years, and 19.3–20.5 mg/day in men and 17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19.
Nutrient Survival recommended consumption: Creamy Chocolate Shake Single (6mg Iron equivalent to 35% DV per serving)
Zinc is an often-overlooked nutrient, but it plays a key role in supporting the body’s immune system. Zinc is also important in the wound healing process and breaking down carbohydrates for energy. Many years ago, while having a checkup, the doctor told me “Take the zinc so you don’t stink!” it had less to do with body odor and more to do with overall health and preventing common colds. It always stuck with me. A Zinc deficiency can lead to numerous issues for the human body. Particularly, cognitive issues like poor memory and concentration. Lack of zinc can also increase the risk of diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lesions. Male adults need 11mg of zinc per a day, female adults should get about 8mg and children need between 2-8mg depending on age. Children need zinc for development and babies get zinc from breast milk meaning nursing mothers may need a little more than usual recommendations.
Nutrient Survival recommended consumption: Revive Therapy Spiced Apple (10.6mg Zinc equivalent to 100% DV per serving)
In 2010, a movie came out called The Way Back. This is an excellent survival story based on actual events from a Polish POW in WWII who claimed to have walked 4000 miles escaping a Soviet Gulag. Early in the movie you see a prisoner who is having difficulties seeing in low light conditions. This could have been attributed to a retinol, also known as vitamin A, deficiency. Unfortunately, this “night blindness” is common for children in undeveloped countries who do not get sufficient vitamin A through their diets. Dry skin, dry eyes, and poor wound healing are also indications of insufficient vitamin A.
Adult males should try to get 900 micrograms (mcg) and adult women are recommended 700mcg of vitamin A per a day. Children should get 400-600 mcg dependent on age.
Nutrient Survival recommended consumption: Triple Cheese Mac Single (570 mcg Vitamin A equivalent to 60% DV per serving)
Iodine is a key component in thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces important hormones. Low levels of iodine can lead to thyroid enlargement and goiter, manifested as swelling in the neck causing swallowing complications and breathing problems. Weakness, a feeling of cold, heavy/ irregular periods and various skin problems are all associated with low iodine levels also.
These issues, particularly goiter, became such a public health crisis that in the 1920’s, the introduction of iodized table salt launched to try and get iodine into the bodies of everyone, salt being a logical choice due to low cost and wide distribution, the plan was largely successful and carries on today.
Most adults should intake 140 micrograms (μg) of iodine daily, children require between 90μg and 120 μg dependent on age.
Vitamin and Nutrient deficiencies are rare nowadays in the United States because of Americans varied diets and access to numerous foods. Third world countries that do not have our luxuries are a better barometer of what happens when food is scarce meaning we can use them as a rough guide when planning for disasters both short and long term. We want you and your family to be ready physically and mentally for when times get hard, whether that is a back country trip that has gone bad or a natural disaster that has power and food supplies knocked out for several weeks. These reasons are why we at Nutrient Survival are committed to making the best tasting, most nutrient dense survival food on the market so it can stand ready to nourish your body and mind.
Alexander Crown is a former U.S. Army Paratrooper who spent time in a scout/sniper platoon in OIF. Alexander spends his time exploring Idaho, hunting, fishing, and camping. He’s a lifelong practitioner of preparedness, emphasizing self-reliance and organic gardening.