Nutrient deficiencies can be sneaky.
Symptoms can be subtle, allowing you to falsely believe you’re giving your body everything it needs. Nutrient deficiencies have a variety of effects. Maybe you just feel a little “off” or your skin seems to be breaking out more often than usual.
Occasionally the signs are more obvious…it is difficult to ignore frequent cramping and muscle spasms in your legs.
Don’t worry – I’m not trying to scare you into buying loads of different multivitamins and supplements. Finding “food forms” of desired nutrients is crucial. Nutrients work in complicated ways in the body and they tend to work better when found in nature.
Worried you’re not getting enough of what you need? Here are the 7 most common signs of nutrient deficiency:
Poor night vision
Vitamin A (also known as retinol) is essential for promoting good vision and eye health. Sunken, dull or dry eyes may indicated a zinc deficiency. Red or tired eyes may be from B vitamin deficiencies (B1, B2 and B6).
This often occurs when you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet because body lacks zinc, iron and vitamin B12 obtained from meat and fish. Both acne and dull, dry skin occur with vitamin A and C deficiencies.
Sores or discoloration of the mouth and tongue
With vitamin B6 and B12 deficiencies, you may see sores on your tongue. Vitamin B2, B3, B6 and B9 deficiencies can cause a purple or white colored tongue.
Weak or ridged nails
Common signs of zinc deficiency. Zinc is a trace mineral required for proper function of the immune system. It also plays a role in cell division and growth. Brittle nails are also a common indication of iron deficiency.
Poor blood clotting
Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. It also pays a vital role in bone mineralization and cell growth. Lack of vitamin K will cause frequent nosebleeds, bruising and brittle bones.
Cramps, spasms and muscle weakness
Vitamin D is essential for growth, health and maintenance of muscles. Spasms or weakness is often due to a lack of vitamin D, as well as deficiencies in calcium potassium, and magnesium.
Tingling in extremities
Vitamin B6 and B12 deficiencies can cause numbness and tingling hands and feet. In severe deficiency, it can lead to staggering and balance problems.
Who is at risk for nutritional deficiency?
Everyone is at risk! Especially if you are a strict vegetarian/vegan (for example, plants don’t make vitamin B12) or have medical conditions that interfere with food absorption (Celiac or Chron’s). As Americans, we are used to feeding ourselves with foods that offer substantial calories, but lack basic nutrition. It is almost impossible to give your body everything it needs if your diet consists of pre-packaged foods full of refined carbohydrates.
Correcting nutritional deficiencies can be challenging, but it is possible. Adhering to a diet full of lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats will drastically improve your nutrient delivery. Adding supplements (that are readily bioavailable and easily absorbable) is also a great way to complement diet changes.