Vitamins and minerals provide a wide range of benefits when it comes to keeping us healthy – including giving our immune systems a boost as well as repairing tissues, just to name a few. While most vitamins and minerals come from food sources, it’s possible to be vitamin and mineral deficient if you do not have a healthy diet, suffer from food allergies and sensitivities, or have other underlying medical conditions.

While all vitamins and minerals are good for you, some are more important than others – iron, folate, vitamin A, and B vitamins (such as B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12) especially. Because these vitamins and minerals are so crucial, it is also more common for Canadians to become deficient in them compared to other vitamins and minerals.

Iron is responsible for carrying oxygen to our blood. If your body does not have enough iron then it is unable to provide the blood with the amount of oxygen it needs. In severe cases of iron deficiency, you can also develop anemia. The most common cause of anemia is blood loss, particularly in females with heavy menstrual periods. As a result of low iron and anemia, you may feel fatigued, weak, have headaches, as well as have a pale appearance to your skin.

Folate is crucial in tissue growth and the multiplication of cells. Pregnant women who are folate deficient could be at an increased risk of giving birth to an infant with birth defects – such as anencephaly and spina bifida. These conditions occur when the infant’s brain is exposed to amniotic or spinal cord fluid. You are also at risk of becoming folate deficient if you consume cereal and few fruits and/or leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin A is essential in helping the body fight infections, promotes proper growth, and reproduction. Insufficient levels of vitamin A can cause impaired vision, and it is also the leading cause of blindness in children.

Vitamin B12 helps to keep the body’s nerves and cells healthy. It also breaks down food we eat into glucose, which gives you energy. Without enough vitamin B12 you could develop neurological deterioration as well as impaired function of the immune system.

Zinc is relied on by the human body as it performs many different functions. Not only can it heal wounds and repair tissue, it can also promote proper blood clotting, helps you metabolize carbs, proteins, fats and alcohol, promotes the production of sperm, and can even correct the function of your thyroid. Symptoms of severe zinc deficiency include recurrent infections, diarrhea, and mental disturbances.