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January 13, 2021 4 min read

First summited by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953, the peak of Mount Everest stands more than 29,000 feet above sea level.

It’s widely recognized as a symbol of the pinnacle of strength and intestinal fortitude of the human spirit, and also the depths of human tragedy and failure, because Mount Everest is also littered with bodies.

The bodies of those that set out to test their physical limits against the harshest conditions on Earth and lost. It’s not that they quit, and it’s not that they weren’t strong enough to climb, many of them simply ran out of oxygen.

Because the higher you climb up the mountain, the less oxygen there is for your body to absorb from each breath that you take.

And while there are people that live high in the Himalayas whose bodies have acclimated to the lower oxygen levels, there is a space where nobody can live called the death zone.

It’s a space where humans can only exist for a very short period of time, and it’s why summit attempts are timed with the weather, because up there, every second and every breath counts.

Because with every breath you lose a little more oxygen in your bloodstream until finally your body just can’t go any longer.

Think of it as having a little hole in the gas tank of your car. Sure, you can still drive your car, but the leak in the tank will make you run out of gas a lot faster than you would’ve had there not been a hole.

But here’s the thing...

It’s not just high in the Himalayas that people are being deprived of critical elements our bodies need to survive.

In fact, it’s estimated that more than 2 billion people around the world suffer from one or more important vitamin or trace mineral deficiencies and they don’t even know it.

Those deficiencies are often the beginning of major health catastrophes because vitamins and minerals are key components to not only a healthy immune system, but strong bones, and oxygenated blood.

Vitamin deficiencies begin slow, almost unnoticeable, but then like a snowball rolling downhill until they develop into serious health problems, especially if you’re ignoring the signs.

Like oxygen depletion in the death zone of Mount Everest, our food supply is slowly being depleted of key vitamins and minerals too. It has to do with the soil that our food supply is grown in, which you can learn more about it here and here.

Your body will often alert you to potential problems, but many people just ignore the signs until it becomes a major issue.

But if you know what to look for and what the most common deficiencies are, you can design your lifestyle around this knowledge and provide your body the nutrients it needs on a daily basis to help you remain healthy and strong.

Common nutrient deficiencies include:

B12 (2.4 mg daily). Often called a ‘vegan’ problem, nothing could be further from the truth. That’s because B12 is actually produced by bacteria found in the soil. So even if you’re eating meat, the meat you’re eating likely isn’t getting enough from its food to sustain your B12 levels. Warning signs of B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. You can learn more about it here.

Calcium (1,000 mg daily). Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. In addition to building strong and healthy bones, calcium plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure, vasodilation, muscle contractions (like your heartbeat), and blood clotting, so a calcium deficiency is not something you want to mess with. You can learn more about calcium here.

Vitamin C (60 mg daily). Also known as L-ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is crucial to staying healthy. Not only is it a critical component of a powerful immune system but it also helps wounds heal faster. It’s a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory that scavenges free-radicals and limits damage to your cells. You can learn more about Vitamin C here.

Iron (Men 18+ 8-11 mg daily and women 18+ 15-18 mg daily) Iron is an essential component of blood that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, supports muscle metabolism, healthy connective tissue, neurological development, cellular functioning, and synthesizing key hormones. You can learn more about iron here. 

Zinc (11-30 mg daily). Zinc is an essential mineral involved in many aspects of cellular activity. In fact, it’s required for the activity of at least 100 enzymes and plays a significant role in immune function. The human body can’t store zinc which is why a daily supply is needed to maintain optimal levels. You can learn more about it here.

Magnesium (310-420 mg daily). Magnesium is another abundant mineral that is present in more than 300 enzyme reactions including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and blood sugar and blood pressure regulation. A good general rule to follow to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium is that foods containing dietary fiber also contain this vital mineral. You can learn more about it here.

Vitamin A (700-900 mg daily). Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cell communication. Deficiency can arise from inadequate intake, fat malabsorption, or liver disorders. You can learn more about Vitamin A here.

Selenium (55 mcg daily). Selenium is an essential trace mineral that plays critical roles in the endocrine, cardiovascular, and immune systems and is a trace element essential to fighting infections. Selenium deficiency affects anywhere from 500 million to 1 billion people worldwide and can cause fatigue, brain fog, infertility, and it can even amplify the effect of certain viruses if you get infected. You can learn more about selenium here.

Iodine (at least 150 mcg daily). Iodine is essential for thyroid function and bone and brain development. Iodine deficiency disorders are one of the biggest public health problems the world faces and is widely recognized as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world. You can learn more about iodine deficiency here.

You know how important it is to eat nutrient-dense foods to keep you healthy, but the fact is our foods simply aren’t as nutrient-dense as they once were.

If you're looking for an effective way to ensure you're getting everything you need to stay healthy and strong, you can learn more about how to fill any potential nutritional gaps and how to optimize your overall health here.