Eating well reduces your risk of developing serious health problems, but what happens if you still aren’t getting enough of the right nutrients?
The body has subtle ways of letting us know what it needs – there are always early warning signs that you should boost your nutrient intake… but they can be tricky to spot.
Here are seven of the sneakiest signs of nutrient deficiencies that may be ruining your health, so that you can fix them before they get worse:
#1 Hair Problems
If your mane is not as magnificent as it used to be, you might need a nutrient boost. Coarse hair can be a sign of a calcium deficiency that could eventually lead to osteoporosis.
Low levels of zinc can cause hair to become brittle and break easily, and increases your risk of serious infections.
If your locks are falling out at the roots, check if your iodine intake is adequate and boost it by eating more sea veg!
#2 Cramps And Twitches
Magnesium is essential for healthy nerve communication and muscle function.
When magnesium levels are low in the body, you might suffer from cramps, muscle soreness, and fatigue – but a common early warning sign is a twitching eyebrow.
Occasional facial tics and twitches are normal, but anything out of the ordinary that persists for multiple days is worth noting.
Magnesium is easily depleted during times of stress. Try soaking in an epsom salt bath to unwind while replenishing your magnesium levels.
#3 Loss Of Taste
If your favourite foods don’t taste quite as good as they used to, you might have a zinc deficiency.
Zinc is a major ingredient in the production of tastebuds and salivary enzymes.
With low levels in the body, taste receptors can stop working or send unusual signals to the central nervous system.
Careful though – too much zinc can cause serious health problems, so be sure to speak to a qualified nutritionist before taking zinc supplements.
In the meantime, err on the side of caution and go for zinc-rich foods like oysters, sunflower seeds, and tahini.
#4 Dry Eyes
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient – that means that it needs fat to be absorbed, and it works in the fatty parts of the body like the skin, cell membranes, and the eyes.
Without enough vitamin A, the membrane over the eye can become hardened and thickened, resulting in dry eyes and leading to night blindness.
Dry eyes don’t always feel dry – they can sting, burn, or feel sensitive to light.
Boost your vitamin A levels by eating rich sources of beta-carotene like green leafy vegetables, brightly coloured fruits, and orange veggies – it’s true, carrots really do help you to see in the dark!
#5 Red, Smooth, Swollen Tongue
Glossitis is a condition where the surface of the tongue becomes smooth, shiny, and swollen, and it’s commonly caused by an iron deficiency.
Iron is needed to carry oxygen through the blood.
Without enough of this essential mineral, tissues in the mouth are deprived of oxygen and become inflamed and red.
In extreme cases, the tongue can continue to swell and cause difficulty with talking, chewing or swallowing – and the taste buds may even disappear!
Don’t worry, they can regrow once iron levels are restored.
#6 Frequent Infections
Getting a cold every month? Can’t seem to shake that cough?
You could be low on vitamin d.
The immune system requires a lot of vitamin d to perform its basic functions.
Without vitamin d, immune cells can’t multiply, detect invading pathogens, or mount effect attacks on viruses. If you seem to get sick every time you’re near someone with the sniffles, don’t blame it on the “superbug” going around – you might just need a vitamin d boost.
This is one of the sneakiest symptoms because almost all nutrient deficiencies can cause fatigue!
Infections, injuries, chronic illnesses, and all types of stress can contribute as underlying causes too, but any nutrient deficiency will add strain on the body’s metabolism and make symptoms of fatigue much worse.
Fatigue is often experienced as persistent tiredness, but it can also manifest as muscle weakness or social fatigue (feeling like talking to others is just too much effort).
The most common nutrient deficiencies to cause fatigue are iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, but not always!
Fatigue is often triggered by not eating enough total calories, or eating an imbalance of macronutrients.
Theoretically you should be able to get all of your required nutrients and vitamins from diet and sunshine alone.
Speak to a qualified nutritionist for personal advice, and check in with your doctor if your symptoms persist.