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What is Nutritional Deficiency? Dr. Cindy Fallon Digs into Nutrient Deficiency

Are you one of the 80% of Americans who take supplements1? Or even more likely, are you one of the 2 billion worldwide that suffer from micronutrient deficiency2? You may not realize it, but nutrition is no longer as easy as getting the right fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And that’s because our produce just doesn’t produce the same nutrient content that it did roughly 80 years ago3. In fact, while many Americans are well-fed, we’re vastly undernourished, and chronic health issues are the result.

We’re digging deep with Dr. Cindy Fallon, VP of Science & Innovation at ION* Intelligence of Nature, and getting A’s to some of the most pressing Q’s on nutrient deficiency, the pitfalls of multivitamins, and ways to keep your body functioning at peak performance.

Q: So, what makes essential nutrients so essential?

A: Well, the term “essential” is really a man-made construct pertaining to an acute need for nutrients and is used to help establish recommended daily intake for six categories of nutrients: fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. And while there is an acute need for all six, a spectrum also exists. For instance, water is essential, and our bodies don’t make it. You also can’t last very long without water. This is an acute need, and a deficiency will show itself very quickly.

There is also an acute need for protein and carbohydrates, and though you might last a bit longer without them than without water, you can’t live long without them. Further down the spectrum are vitamins and minerals. A nutritional deficiency will show up fairly quickly (see note on scurvy below).

Vitamin D, one of the nutrients that we are most deficient in, is a central player in holding together epithelial cells in the small intestines, meaning a deficiency can lead to a leaky gut. This can trigger an immune response and inflammation, which can further damage the intestinal lining and worsen leaky gut syndrome.

Additionally, vitamin D deficiency may also lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, which can further contribute to the development of a leaky gut.

How micronutrients support your overall health

There are several key ways that vitamins and minerals (aka, micronutrients) are showing up to support your health:

1. Supporting the immune system:

Many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium, help support a healthy immune system, which is essential for fighting off infections and diseases. Recall the outbreaks of scurvy on the sailing vessels of the 1800s? These gruesome deaths could have been avoided entirely if they had just brought along some vitamin C packed citrus fruit! What a difference one essential nutrient can make…

2. Regulating metabolism:

Many vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and magnesium, are involved in regulating metabolic processes, including energy production, protein synthesis, and DNA repair.

3. Supporting bone health:

Vitamins D, K, and calcium are essential for maintaining strong bones and preventing conditions such as osteoporosis.

4. Acting as antioxidants:

Some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C and E, selenium, and zinc, act as antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

5. Supporting brain function:

Many vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, iron, and iodine, are essential for proper brain function, including memory, concentration, and mood regulation.

6. Supporting growth and development:

Vitamins and minerals are essential for proper growth and development in children and adolescents and are also important for maintaining healthy tissues and organs throughout life.

Without sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals, nutrient deficiencies can develop, leading to a range of health problems, such as impaired immune function, fatigue, poor bone health, cognitive decline, and anemia.

Further, using the term “essential” around a limited number of nutrients has some important, and possibly detrimental, implications. It implies that all those nutrients that are made by the human body are “non-essential” because we don’t need to consume them. But they are absolutely critical to health, and we need to support the body to make them.

In addition, creating the terms “essential” and “non-essential” for a finite list of nutrients that have an acute impact on health is really misleading and drives over-fixation on consuming a limited number of vitamins and minerals. It completely overlooks a wide range of phytonutrients that are not synthesized by the human body, yet they are essential for optimizing health as well as long-term health.

Another great example is fiber. It’s not considered an essential nutrient because “the absence of a deficiency state prevents it from being considered an essential nutrient…and there is not an estimated average requirement or RDA for fiber”. So, because we haven’t assigned an RDA, it’s not considered essential? Seems a little backward to me.

The health benefits of getting at least 25-30 grams of fiber a day are undisputed and include regulating digestion, avoiding constipation, reducing the risk of diverticulitis and hemorrhoids, regulating blood sugar, lowering the risk of heart disease, not to mention supporting a diverse gut microbiome and all the health benefits that come along with that! Considering fiber as “non-essential” points to a fundamental flaw in the adopted nomenclature.


Q: What are some more examples of “non-essential” but definitely essential nutrients?

A: Phytonutrients are naturally occurring compounds found in plants that have various health benefits. These compounds are not considered essential nutrients, as they are not required for basic bodily functions, but they provide important health benefits, help prevent disease, and are absolutely essential to long-term health.

Phytonutrients are responsible for the vibrant colors, tastes, and smells of fruits and vegetables. Some examples include:

  1. Carotenoids: Found in bright red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, carotenoids are known for their antioxidant properties.
  2. Flavonoids: Found in fruits, vegetables, and tea, flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
  3. Resveratrol: Found in grapes, red wine, and some berries, resveratrol has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  4. Glucosinolates: Found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, glucosinolates are believed to have anti-cancer properties.
  5. Phenolic acids: Found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, phenolic acids have antioxidant properties and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Q: So, why are we deficient in so many different kinds of nutrients?

A: There are several reasons why people may be nutrient deficient:

  1. Poor diet

    Many people consume diets that are high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats, as well as low in nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This can result in deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. In fact, according to a study published in the journal BMJ Open, in the United States, nearly 60% of the calories consumed by adults come from ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed are food products that have undergone extensive processing and contain numerous added ingredients, such as flavors, colors, preservatives, and other additives.

    A similar study conducted in Canada found that ultra-processed foods accounted for more than half of the calories consumed by Canadian adults. In Europe, a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that ultra-processed foods accounted for more than 50% of the total daily energy intake in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain.

    Overall, these studies suggest that a significant proportion of the calories consumed in many developed countries come from processed foods, with ultra-processed foods being a major contributor.

    Further, the proportion of calories in youths’ diets in 2018 was a staggering 67% ultra-processed, with whole, unprocessed foods only coming in at around 23.5%4.

  2. Soil depletion

    The quality of our soil has declined in many parts of the world due to intensive farming practices and overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, which can lead to a reduction in the nutrient content of crops grown in these soils.

    Further, the use of fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can contribute to shallow roots, which have access to less of the vitamins and minerals in the soil. In nature, certain types of bacteria are able to convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia (NH3) through a process called biological nitrogen fixation. This takes place in nodules, deep on the plant’s roots and provides the plant with usable nitrogen while the plant provides the bacteria with energy and nutrients. In our attempt to make it “easier” on the plant, we take away the need to drive roots deep enough to support nitrogen fixation and weaken the plant.

    Aside from reduced water and nutrient uptake, poor root growth can have several negative impacts on plant health, including decreased resistance to environmental stress and increased susceptibility to disease and pest damage.

  3. Food processing

    Many processing techniques used in the food industry can reduce the nutrient content of foods, such as refining grains to remove the nutrient-rich bran and germ, or high-heat processing that can destroy vitamins and other nutrients.

  4. Medications

    Some medications can interfere with nutrient absorption, metabolism, or excretion, leading to deficiencies.

  5. Health conditions

    Certain health conditions, such as digestive disorders, food allergies, and chronic diseases, can impair nutrient absorption or increase nutrient requirements, leading to deficiencies.

  6. Lifestyle factors

    Certain lifestyle factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, can deplete the body of nutrients and increase nutrient requirements.

Q: What are some signs of nutrient deficiency?

A: Generally, different nutrient deficiencies have different signs and symptoms. For example, slow-to-heal wounds and easy bruising can be signs of a vitamin C deficiency while muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat can be signs of calcium deficiency.

While some hair loss and brittle hair can be normal, depending on the rate of loss, it can be a sign of more general nutrient deficiencies. Chronic diarrhea can be a sign of general malabsorption (aka, not getting enough nutrients to the cells). Further, not getting enough nutrients to your cells can decrease energy, affect mood, and cause irritability. Nutrient deficiency can even lead to anxiety or depression. Loss of appetite can also be a sign that you have some nutrient deficiencies.

Some other common signs of nutrient deficiency include:

1. Fatigue and weakness

2. Anemia (pale skin, weakness, shortness of breath, and fatigue)

3. Skin rash or dry, flaky skin

4. Brittle nails

5. Dental problems (such as bleeding gums and tooth decay)

6. Cognitive impairment or memory loss

7. Bloating or constipation

8. Night blindness or vision problems

Please note: Some of these symptoms may be indicative of other health conditions, so it is important to speak with a healthcare provider if you are experiencing any persistent symptoms.

Q: Can supplements like multivitamins and trace minerals help with nutritional deficiencies?

A: Certain supplements can be a helpful way to support nutrient intake and help prevent or treat nutrient deficiencies, but they should not be used as a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.

While some supplements may provide a concentrated source of specific nutrients that may be difficult to obtain from food alone, they are not a replacement for whole foods, which contain a complex array of nutrients and other beneficial compounds that work together to support health (like the phytonutrients mentioned earlier).

Supplements may also be particularly useful for people with specific nutrient deficiencies (like iron, vitamin D, or Magnesium, for example), health conditions, or dietary restrictions that make it difficult to consume adequate nutrients through diet alone, such as individuals with digestive disorders, or food allergies or intolerances.

However, without an effective way to absorb nutrients, supplements can amount to wasted effort. For instance, if your gut isn’t intact, nutrients aren’t going through the proper pathways to make it where they need to go. Further, a deficiency in fulvate (a carrier molecule found in rich, healthy soil) can also create a “delivery gap” when it comes to nutrients (more on this below).

It is also important to choose high-quality supplements from reputable manufacturers and follow the recommended dosage guidelines, as taking excessive amounts of certain nutrients can be harmful.

Lastly, supplements are not a magic bullet, and should be used in conjunction with a healthy and balanced diet, regular physical activity, and other lifestyle factors that support overall health and well-being.

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Q: How does ION* help with nutrient absorption?

A: Fulvate, the active ingredient in ION*, is a naturally occurring compound found in soil and humus, a dark organic material formed from the decomposition of plant and animal matter. It is a complex mixture of organic acids, minerals, and other beneficial compounds that have been shown to have a range of health benefits, including supporting nutrient absorption.

Fulvate has a unique molecular structure that allows it to bind to minerals, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium, making them more easily absorbed by the body. Additionally, fulvate can enhance the permeability of cell membranes, allowing for better absorption of nutrients and other compounds.

Fulvate can also help to activate enzymes that are involved in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients in the body. This can help to increase the efficiency of nutrient absorption.

And beyond getting nutrients into cells, fulvate can bind to toxins in the body and help to remove them from cells, facilitating a gentle cellular detox.

For ION* in particular, we have seen an increase in curcumin bioavailability specifically, with more science on the horizon for showcasing the unique abilities of this carrier molecule.

Preliminary data highlighting the ability of ION* to absorb curcumin as measured in urine four hours after ingestion. The first bar shows curcumin in water alone, the second fully dissolved in ION*, and the third taken with ION* but not dissolved.

One of the amazing attributes of fulvate is that the molecules are large enough that they can fold and encapsulate in order to carry nutrients across membranes and into cells. They have hydrophobic (water-hating) and hydrophilic (water-loving) sites that are super facile and will interface with the nutrient to be carried, delivering it as nature intended.

While ION* is not considered to be a nutrient, and you can’t simply measure your fulvate levels, fulvate is absolutely essential to the process of nutrient delivery. Once upon a time, humans got plenty of fulvate when they ate nutrient-dense plants grown in microbe-rich soil. However, not only has the soil become less rich with nutrients, the fulvate “delivery service” has been jeopardized.

Q: How does nutrient absorption facilitate cell health?

A: By getting nutrients to where they are actually needed, the cell, metabolism, and protein synthesis can be fostered.

Nutrient absorption plays a crucial role in facilitating cell health because nutrients are the building blocks that our cells use to carry out their functions and maintain their structure. Different types of cells in our body require different nutrients to function properly, and deficiencies can lead to a range of cellular abnormalities and dysfunction.

For example, our cells require energy in the form of glucose and other nutrients to carry out their metabolic processes, produce ATP, and support cellular respiration. Cells also require amino acids and other nutrients to build proteins, which are essential for many cellular processes, including growth, repair, and signaling.

Additionally, certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium, function as antioxidants, helping to protect our cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

In order for our cells to have access to these nutrients, they must first be absorbed into the bloodstream from the food we eat or supplements we take. As mentioned earlier, fulvate can help to activate enzymes that are involved in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients in the body. This nutrient absorption occurs primarily in the small intestine, where nutrients are transported across the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream, where they can then be transported to the cells that need them.

Q: How does nutrient absorption help with overall health?

A: Proper nutrient absorption can help with everything from energy production to protein synthesis, and brain health to mood regulation.

Nutrient absorption plays a crucial role in facilitating overall health because it ensures that our bodies have access to the essential nutrients that they need to function properly. Nutrients are required for a wide range of bodily processes, including energy production, immune function, cellular repair and growth, and cognitive function, among others.

When nutrient absorption is impaired or inadequate, it can lead to a range of health problems, including deficiencies, malnutrition, and other health complications. For example, deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, can lead to anemia, fatigue, and bone loss, respectively. Malnutrition can also weaken the immune system, leading to an increased risk of infections and other illnesses.

On the other hand, consuming a diet that is rich in a variety of nutrients, and optimizing nutrient absorption, can help to support overall health and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. For example, a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support cardiovascular health, cognitive function, immune function, and more.

How do you know if you are struggling with nutrient deficiencies?

Since gut health has a direct correlation to the immune system, mental health, autoimmune diseaseendocrine disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, we always prioritize the importance of supporting the gut in order to achieve root-cause healing. The incredible complexity of the gut and its critical role in our overall wellness is still being explored and researched.


The human microbiome, the microorganisms that live together in a specific environment, refers to the large collection of bacteria and microbes that live primarily in the gut. The body typically carries trillions of microbes in the gut, including more than a thousand species of bacteria. These bacteria not only help the body to digest foods, but they also play a critical role in immune function and mental health.


There are actually more bacterial cells in our digestive tract than there are human cells in the entire body. While there are differing opinions on the exact numbers, human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count– the rest are the micro-organisms that make up the human microbiome. Research over the past 20 years has discovered that our gut flora, or microbiome, plays a critical role in regulating gut integrity and function. That’s why poor gut health including digestive issues, gut dysbiosis, and other imbalances in the gut flora can contribute to an extensive list of chronic conditions ranging from autism to rheumatoid arthritis.

What Causes Poor Gut Health?

So, what exactly causes poor gut health? There are a variety of factors that can impact this essential system. Since components of the gut microbiome begin to mature in utero, gut health quite literally begins in the womb. As a result of living in the modern world, gut dysbiosis and digestive problems can begin as early as birth in the following cases:



In addition to these early-stage factors, there are also other causes that can impact gut health later on. Here are the main causes of poor gut health:

Poor Diet

diet gut health

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is comprised of processed foods, highly refined carbohydrates, high sugar content, and inflammatory foods such as seed oils. All of these components impact gut health and can lead to gut dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome, H. pylori imbalances, SIBO, and other health issues. Healthier diet variations such as paleo, Whole30, and keto can still contain foods high in plant anti-nutrientsglyphosate, and mycotoxins that can be harmful to gut health in certain individuals.


Antibioticsoral contraceptivesNSAIDsproton pump inhibitors (PPIs), laxatives, and other medications can all impact the gut negatively. From gut dysbiosis to leaky gut, certain medications are capable of impacting gut bacteria and impairing gut function in both short-term and long-term use. Antibiotics are one of the more prevalent culprits as they kill both good and bad bacteria. That’s why probiotic protocols are always recommended after any antibiotic use.

Food Intolerances and Allergies

carnivore food gut health


Individuals born with food allergies and intolerances will need to avoid specific foods in order to minimize gut damage and immune reactions. These specific foods will vary per person and why personalized elimination tools such as Nutriement are more helpful than IgG food sensitivity tests. IgG tests are not always accurate and will misrepresent sensitivities if a particular food has been removed from the diet for a while (e.g., gluten). Food intolerances differ from food sensitivities which are one of the main symptoms of leaky gut. Food sensitivities often normalize after gut healing and should ideally be reintroduced back after a successful elimination diet. Those with true food allergies and intolerances will need to avoid these triggering foods indefinitely.

Chronic Stress

chronic stress gut health

Unmanaged chronic stress can wreak havoc across the body including the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Stress can impact gut bacteria and make the intestinal barrier weaker. When the brain experiences stress, it releases the stress hormones corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), cortisol, adrenalin, and norepinephrine. Since the body can’t differentiate between chronic daily stress and life-threatening stress, it switches over to survival mode and places proper digestion on the back burner. The hormone CRF can either slow things down in the upper GI tract leading to constipation or speed things up in the lower GI tract resulting in diarrhea. Living with unmanaged chronic stress can have a significant impact on gut health.

Lifestyle Considerations

Lifestyle considerations such as sleep, alcohol use, tobacco smoking, and drug use can all impact gut health as well. Poor sleep is another lifestyle consideration that can change the gut microbiome composition. Not only can alcohol impact the gut flora, but it is also linked to intestinal hyperpermeability, gut inflammation, and other conditions. Smoking tobacco can cause certain intestinal disorders including intestinal irritation and increased permeability of the mucosa.

Chronic GI Infections

Chronic GI infections from viruses, bacteria, and parasites can also compromise the gut. Infections such as salmonella, shigella, E. coli, C. diff, H. pylori, and others can all affect the digestive tract. While these infections usually result in short-term complications, certain types of infections have the potential to cause long-term consequences. Individuals that experience chronic GI infections are also more susceptible to gut imbalances and other long-term consequences.

Environmental Toxins

read the rest here

The Carnivore Cure Elimination Protocol

The Carnivore Cure is the first elimination protocol that explains how to adopt a carnivore diet for healing purposes. It’s an essential step for starting any gut healing protocol so you can find root-cause healing. You can read more about how to implement this elimination diet protocol here.

The first step is implementing the right elimination diet for supporting the gut and helping it heal. There are other supports that we’ll discuss after delving into the carnivore diet for gut health.

Carnivore Cure provides a step-by-step approach to optimal health while also providing extensive nutritional information and evidence-based support for following a meat-based lifestyle (with hundreds of colored visuals and coveted Nutrition with Judy nutritional graphics). Carnivore Cure debunks nutritional misinformation and provides lifestyle support through the lens of holistic health.

⭐️Personalized Carnivore

– Transitioning to a meat-based diet
– How much to eat and drink (and why)
– Lifestyle levers to pull to optimize carnivore
– Preparation and planning (introspection and motivation)

⭐️Evidence-Based Support

– Gut health, gut disease and the microbiome
– Plant truths, toxic foods and sugar addiction
– Nutritional deficiencies in antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber
– Thyroid, adrenal and hormone health (on a zero-carb diet)

⭐️Elimination Diet and Reintroduction Protocol

– Safest foods to start the ultimate elimination diet
– Safest plant foods to start with during the reintroduction phase
– Step-by-step approach to find your personalized “safe” baseline of foods
– Weekly protocol and detoxification


The World We Live in Today

– One in 4 Americans suffer from gut disease.
– One in 10 Americans suffer from diabetes.
– One in 3 American adults have undiagnosed prediabetes.
– One in 6 suffer from an autoimmune disease.
– One in 5 Americans experience a mental illness.
– Four in 10 Americans are obese.


If you’re among these statistics, you may already know how little standard medical care can heal your condition. Ease symptoms? Sure. But oftentimes those temporary quick fixes can cause more damage long term.

Carnivore Cure will teach you:
– the toxicities in our modern food and how to remove them
– animal-based nutrition
– importance of gut health
– the importance of hormones, sleep, stress, fasting, exercise and mindset to support optimal health

Carnivore Cure is the ultimate elimination diet to attain optimal health and heal your body.

This book has hundreds of colored graphics and Nutrition with Judy tips to be a go-to holistic resource for years to come.

Visit Carnivore Cure for more details.

carnivore cure elimination protocol gut health

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