There are a lot of signals your body sends you, including what’s going on inside you may not be able to see. Pay attention to symptoms – even sneaky ones – so you can get the necessary nutrients.
1) Flaky scalp
Possible deficiency: fatty acids
When you scratch your head and notice flakes falling, you immediately assume you have dandruff. But, it could also be that your diet is lacking in wholesome fatty acids. Dietitian Staci Small explains that essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, act as lubricants in our bodies. You’ll run dry without it. To acquire enough omega-3s, she advises eating two fish dinners per week. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), among other fatty acids, is also crucial. They are present in flaxseeds and walnuts.
2) Thin, brittle hair
Possible deficiency: B vitamins
It’s true what you’ve heard about how crucial the B vitamin biotin is for thick, healthy hair. But according to Small, having little folate, commonly known as folic acid, can also result in fragile strands. Folate is frequently present in enhanced grains like bread and cereal. White rice is a great source, even in small amounts like one cup. Yet, if you have been avoiding carbohydrates in order to reduce weight, you may be missing out if you haven’t planned well. Nevertheless, grains are not required. According to Small, a cup of raw spinach is a decent source, and a cup of cooked asparagus would provide 60% of your daily requirement.
3) A Greying Part
Possible deficiency: copper
Check your copper intake if your part seems to be turning silver lately. Dietitian Olivia Wagner says copper plays a role in melanin production, which gives hair its color. Check your copper levels if your hair is going gray quickly or surprisingly early (in your 20s without a family history). Among the best sources are organ meats, seafood, nuts and seeds, as well as dark leafy greens.
4) Cracks and sores in your mouth
Possible deficiency: B12
Your mouth may develop ulcer-like lesions or cracks if your body needs more B12. Increase your poultry intake, (lean) red meat, and eggs. Getting enough iron is more challenging if you’re vegetarian, but fortified foods like dairy, cereal, and nutritional yeast can help.
5) Bumps on the backs of arms
Possible deficiency: zinc and vitamin A
Something could be missing from your diet if your arms aren’t super smooth (a condition called keratosis pilaris), but you don’t know why. The reason is that both nutrients are essential for maintaining skin health and aid in wound healing. You can get enough zinc from poultry, hummus, and pumpkin seeds. Sweet potatoes and rockmelon are good sources of vitamin A.
6) Fingernail ridges
Possible deficiency: stomach acid
A lack of stomach acid may not seem like a vitamin problem, but it can prevent you from breaking down nutrients and absorbing vitamins and minerals. One possible cause is taking an over-the-counter heartburn medication, which decreases stomach acid. Some people find that taking apple cider vinegar with water with a meal or taking digestive enzymes (available as supplements) can help.
Possible deficiency: fibre and magnesium
There are at least a dozen possible reasons for being backed up (having fewer than three bowel movements per week). Among the most common causes are a lack of fibre in the diet and low magnesium levels, a mineral that plays a role in moving stool. You may also consider taking a 120 mg magnesium citrate supplement along with eating more magnesium-rich foods. Make sure you get enough fiber as well!
8) Calf cramps
Possible deficiency: magnesium or calcium
Magnesium plays a crucial role in muscle contractions, along with calcium. Avocados, bananas, and pumpkin seeds are good sources of magnesium. As for calcium, fortified non-dairy milk often contains more than its cow milk counterpart.