We spend an average of 90,000 hours of our lives working, which may be why balancing a successful work life and a healthy lifestyle can sometimes feel impossible.1
If you feel like you’ve tried everything, but you’re still experiencing low energy, feeling stressed out, or just not feeling “well”, you’re not alone. The American Institute of Stress reports that 34% of working Americans have difficulty sleeping due to work and 12% call in sick due to work stress.2
Nutrient deficiencies, like too low vitamin D or selenium, may be part of the problem. These vitamins and minerals can affect everything from immunity and energy levels to sleeping patterns and stress regulation.
Since they are so vital to health and because deficiencies are so common, better understanding your micronutrient status and the roles they play in your body may be part of the solution to improving your health and work performance.
5 Ways Nutrient Deficiencies Interfere with Your Work Performance
Decreased Motivation and Overall Performance
Due to: Lack of energy
Culprits: Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin B12
Magnesium activates adenosine triphosphate in the body, which helps to create energy. Potassium helps regulate muscle and heart contractions, maintaining energy levels. Low vitamin B12 levels cause a reduction in red blood cell formation and prevent them from developing properly. Extremely low vitamin B12 levels can lead to anemia, which causes severe fatigue and weakness. 3-4
Inability to Interact and Brainstorm with Your Team
Due to: Inadequate sleep
Culprits: Magnesium and Vitamin D
In order to fall asleep and stay asleep, your body and brain need to relax. Magnesium activates the nervous system responsible for getting you relaxed and also regulates the hormone melatonin, which guides your internal sleep-wake cycles. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with decreased sleep time, decreased sleep efficiency, and increased daytime sleepiness. 5-10
Increased Sick Days
Due to: Suppressed immune system
Culprits: Vitamins D, E, C and Selenium
Vitamin D modulates immune responses. Therefore deficiencies in this vitamin are strongly associated with an increased susceptibility to illness. Vitamin E and selenium are powerful antioxidants that help the body fight off infection. A vitamin C deficiency results in a reduced resistance against certain germs that can cause illness. Your body doesn’t naturally produce or store it, but the good news is that most fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C! 11-13
Decreased Job Satisfaction
Due to: Increase in stress
Culprit: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Studies show a strong association between omega-3 fatty acid levels and anxiety. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that people with anxiety disorders have lower levels of circulating omega-3 fatty acids. Another study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduced inflammation and anxiety in medical students during exams. 14-16
Lack of Confidence
Due to: Poor skin, hair & nail health and impaired mood
Culprits: Copper, Selenium, Zinc and Vitamin D
It’s hard to feel confident in the office when you don’t feel like you’re presenting the best version of yourself. Minerals like copper, selenium, and zinc play a role in hair, skin, and nail health. Zinc helps heal scars, acne and most damage to your skin as it is one of the most powerful healing minerals. Copper promotes the production of collagen, the structural protein for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Selenium is a major player for skin health as it is a powerful antioxidant that’s important in maintaining skin elasticity and flexibility. When lacking these vitamins and minerals, you may feel self-conscious of your appearance leading to interpersonal conflict affecting your work. Additionally, numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between mood and vitamin D levels.17-22
Being deficient in certain micronutrients can lead to a decrease in motivation & performance, inability to interact & brainstorm with coworkers, increased sick days, decreased job satisfaction and a decrease in confidence & mood. Having sufficient levels will allow you to feel, look, think and act positive, professional and successful so you can put your best foot forward at work.
If any of the above resonates with you, you’re not alone since virtually 100% of Americans have inadequate intake for one or more essential nutrients.23 So how do you ensure you’re getting adequate levels of key nutrients in order to do your best work?
The Answer: Personalized Nutrition
A one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer you’re looking for because everybody experiences different deficiencies. The only way to figure this out is by measuring your actual micronutrient status through a blood test. These results provide information on which nutrients you need, how much of each nutrient you need, and what impact your current nutrient intake is having.
Most people experience excessive stress, low energy and just simply do not feel “well” at work, where they spend a majority of their time. A proven way to improve or prevent these negative effects is personalizing their nutrition using nutrient blood testing and customized supplementation.
Obtaining the right nutrients in the right doses can improve your mental and physical health tremendously, which allows you to feel your best. When you feel your best, you can focus on all of the things life throws at you, whether at work or elsewhere.
About the Author
Gabrielle has a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in Health and Wellness Management from Merrimack College. She has varied experience in research, counseling, clinical nutrition, nutrition communications and marketing, food service management, and has worked with underserved areas in community nutrition. Gabrielle enjoys a healthy lifestyle through outdoor adventures, practicing mindfulness and compassion, and cooking her favorite dishes to share with friends and family.
- 1/3 of your life is spent at work. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gettysburg.edu/news/stories?id=79db7b34-630c-4f49-ad32-4ab9ea48e72b&pageTitle=1/3 of your life is spent at work
- Workplace Stress. (2019, March 28). Retrieved from https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress
- Durlach J, Pages N, Bac P, Bara M, Guiet-Bara A. Biorhythms and possible central regulation of magnesium status, phototherapy, darkness therapy and chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion, 2002. Magnes Res. (1-2):49-66.
- Veronese, N., et al., Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2014. 100(3): p. 974-981.
- Hornyak, M., et al., Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study. Sleep, 1998. 21(5): p. 501-505.
- Nielsen, F.H., L.K. Johnson, and H. Zeng, Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. Magnes Res, 2010. 23(4): p. 158-68.
- Held, K., et al., Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry, 2002. 35(4): p. 135-43.
- Beydoun MA, Gamaldo AA, Canas JA, Beydoun HA, Shah MT, McNeely JM, Zonderman AB. “Serum nutritional biomarkers and their associations with sleep among US adults in recent national surveys.” PLoS One. 9.8(2014).
- Massa J, Stone KL, Wei EK, Harrison SL, Barrett-Connor E, Lane NE, Paudel M, Redline S, Ancoli-Israel S, Orwoll E, Schernhammer E. “Vitamin D and actigraphic sleep outcomes in older community-dwelling men: the MrOS sleep study.” Sleep. 38.2(2015): 251-257.
- Huang W, Shah S, Long Q, Crankshaw AK, Tangpricha V. “Improvement of pain, sleep, and quality of life in chronic pain patients with vitamin D supplementation.” Clin J Pain. 29.4(2013): 341-347.
- Martineau, A.R., et al., Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ, 2017. 356.
- Papapostoli, I., F. Lammert, and C.S. Stokes, Effect of Short-Term Vitamin D Correction on Hepatic Steatosis as Quantified by Controlled Attenuation Parameter (CAP). J Gastrointestin Liver Dis, 2016. 25(2): p. 175-81.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1999. 13, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Immune Response: Recent Advances. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230984/
- Hansen AL, Dahl L, Olson G, Thornton D, Graff IE, Froyland L, Thayer JF, Pallesen S. “Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability.” J Clin Sleep Med. 15.10(2014): 567-575).
- Liu JJ, Galfalvy HC, Cooper TB, Oquendo MA, Grunebaum MF, Mann JJ, Sublette ME. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status in major depressive disorder with comorbid anxiety disorders, 2018. J Clin Psychiatry. (7):732-8.
- Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial, 2011. Brain Behav Immun. 25(8):1725-34.
- Prasad, A.S., et al., Zinc supplementation decreases incidence of infections in the elderly: effect of zinc on generation of cytokines and oxidative stress. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007. 85(3): p. 837-44.
- Dreno, B., et al., Multicenter randomized comparative double-blind controlled clinical trial of the safety and efficacy of zinc gluconate versus minocycline hydrochloride in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Dermatology, 2001. 203(2): p. 135-40.
- Dean, A.J., et al., Effects of vitamin D supplementation on cognitive and emotional functioning in young adults–a randomised controlled trial. PLoS One, 2011. 6(11): p. E25966.
- Penckofer, S., et al., Vitamin D Supplementation Improves Mood in Women with Type Diabetes. J Diabetes Res, 2017. 2017: p. 8232863.
- Vaziri, F., et al., A randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation on perinatal depression: in Iranian pregnant mothers. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2016. 16: p. 239.
- Hogberg, G., et al., Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta Paediatr, 2012. 101(7): p. 779-83.
- Wallace TC, McBurney M, Fulgoni VL, 3rd. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to 12 micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(2):94-102.