We are often told that a well-balanced and nutritious diet is important for our health, but many of us don’t realize how easy it is to become deficient in certain nutrients. Lacking certain vitamins and minerals can lead to a host of unpleasant symptoms, from brain fog and poor night vision to brittle nails and cracked lips. Although many of these symptoms are mild in the beginning, they can become serious health issues as you age. Learning how to recognize and combat the most common signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies is a proactive way to take control of your health right now and in the future.
Cracked Lips or Mouth Ulcers
Cracked lips or sores around the mouth are common symptoms of nutritional deficiencies. Canker sores are the most common type of mouth ulcers, and studies show that they are often the result of B vitamin and/or iron deficiencies.
Cracked lips are often caused by a condition called angular cheilitis. Although it can be caused by dehydration, in many cases it is also related to a lack of iron and B vitamins.
If you are experiencing these issues, try incorporating more iron and B vitamin-rich foods into your diet. Iron and B vitamins are abundant in meat, poultry, fish, dark leafy greens, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes.
Poor Night Vision and Other Vision Problems
Nutritional deficiencies are a common cause of poor night vision and other vision problems. Vitamin A is especially important for your eyesight because the body needs it to produce the pigment called rhodopsin, which is found in the retina of the eye and helps you see when it’s dark.
Night blindness can actually progress if left untreated, ultimately leading to a condition called xerophthalmia and eventually, blindness.
If you suspect that you have a vitamin a deficiency, try incorporating more yellow and orange vegetables, leafy greens, eggs, and organ meats into your diet.
Hair loss is a common issue for adults over 50, and it may be related to certain nutritional deficiencies. For example, being deficient in iron can cause your hair to fall out or stop growing because iron is essential for synthesizing the DNA found in hair follicles.
Zinc is also necessary for cell division and protein synthesis, which are both necessary for hair growth. Fatty acids like linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are necessary for maintaining and growing hair. And finally, niacin (B3) and Biotin (B7) have both been linked to hair loss.
Foods that are rich in these nutrients include leafy green vegetables, meat, dairy, fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, is a nerve condition that is characterized by uncomfortable numbness in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them, especially when you’re trying to relax or sleep. The condition is more common in women, but men can experience it too.
RLS symptoms are generally more severe in people who are iron deficient. If you are suffering from this condition, increasing your intake of iron-rich foods like meat, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds may help.
You may also want to up your intake of vitamin C rich veggies and fruits because vitamin C assists with iron absorption. There is also some evidence to suggest that insufficient magnesium levels contribute to RLS.
Brittle Nails and Hair
There are several things that can contribute to brittle nails and hair, but biotin (B7) deficiency is one of the most common. Other symptoms of vitamin B7 deficiency include tingling in the feet and hands, muscle cramps and pain, and chronic fatigue.
People who are heavy drinkers or smokers, have digestive issues like Chron’s disease, and women who are pregnant have the greatest risk of being deficient in biotin. To increase your intake of biotin, eat more egg yolks, meat, fish, seeds, nuts, and bananas.
Although being too aggressive with your tooth brushing can sometimes cause bleeding gums, vitamin C deficiency is another common cause. Vitamin C is extremely important for the immune system, wound healing, and it’s an antioxidant that protects the cells from damage.
The human body does not produce its own vitamin C, so getting it through your diet is a must. In addition to bleeding gums, tooth loss, bruising easily, frequent nosebleeds, dry scaly skin, and slow wound healing are also signs of vitamin C deficiency.
In order to get an adequate intake of vitamin C through your diet, you need to eat at least two pieces of fruit and three or four servings of fresh vegetables each day. Many people don’t even come close to that.
How to Combat Nutritional Deficiencies in Your Diet
If you are experiencing brain fog, lack of energy, or any of the other symptoms discussed above, you may not be getting the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Here’s what you need to do to correct the problem:
- Start by eating a nutritious diet that includes a wide variety of foods. Eating a variety of foods will help to ensure your getting the widest range of vitamins and minerals possible through your diet. Most of your diet should be fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- No matter how good your diet is, it’s very difficult to meet all of your nutritional needs through diet alone, and that’s where multivitamins come in. SmartyPants offers a variety of organic vitamins that are designed to fill in the nutritional gaps in your diet. Be sure to choose a daily multivitamin formula that’s appropriate for your age and gender because nutritional needs are different for men and women, and they change throughout various stages of life.
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