Nutrient Shortfall Questionnaire

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Download, print, and complete the questionnaire below to help determine whether you are at risk for common nutrient shortfalls. Then discuss your answers with your family doctor.

Download the Nutrient Shortfall Risk Questionnaire (1-page PDF file; About PDFs)

What is a nutrient shortfall?

If your body doesn’t get enough of one or more nutrients from the food you eat, you may have a nutrient insufficiency or inadequacy. An even lower level of a nutrient is referred to as a deficiency. There are two types of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include fats, protein and carbohydrates. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These substances give your body energy and help prevent disease.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), many Americans don’t get enough of the micronutrients potassium, calcium and vitamin D. Many women who are menstruating or pregnant do not get enough of the micronutrients iron and folate. Vegetarians, vegans (strict vegetarians who do not eat any animal products) and older adults are at higher risk for not getting enough vitamin B-12.

How can I get more of the nutrients my body needs?

You can get micronutrients through a variety of healthy foods, such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes (dried beans and peas)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Low-fat and fat-free dairy products
  • Lean meats and fish

Getting vitamins and minerals from fresh foods you prepare yourself ensures that your body is able to absorb them properly and includes other healthy nutrients present in foods that are not usually contained in supplements. For information on how to choose and prepare healthy foods, read “Changing Your Diet: Choosing Nutrient-rich Foods” and “Nutrition: How to Make Healthier Food Choices.”

If you know you have a nutrient deficiency, be sure to eat foods that are good sources of that nutrient. You can download charts from the USDA (3-page PDF file; About PDFs) to see a list of foods that are high in potassium, calcium and vitamin D.

Iron and folate are especially important for menstruating or pregnant women. Good sources of iron include lean meats, poultry and seafood. You can also get iron from foods such as white beans, lentils and spinach. Legumes, oranges and spinach are good sources of folate. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, your doctor may recommend that you take a vitamin supplement that contains iron and at least 400 mcg of folate.

Vitamin B-12 is mainly found in fish, shellfish, meat and dairy products. Older adults may have trouble absorbing vitamin B-12 from their food. If you are 50 years of age or older, talk to your doctor about whether you should take a vitamin- B12 supplement.

Nutrient Shortfall Risk Questionnaire

Download, print, and complete the questionnaire below to help determine whether you are at risk for common nutrient shortfalls. Then discuss your answers with your family doctor.

Download the Nutrient Shortfall Risk Questionnaire (1-page PDF file; About PDFs)

 

This content was developed with general underwriting support from Nature Made®.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 09/13
Created: 01/12

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