How to tell if you're lacking a nutrient
Mind & Body,  Nutrition

How to tell if you’re lacking a nutrient

Your body talks to you all the time. It tells you what it needs and how it’s feeling. You just need to learn its language AND like listening to your intuition, be quiet enough to hear it. When you tune in to your body you can learn how to tell if you’re lacking a nutrient. If you need to add something to your diet and routine or have less of something.

Learning your body’s language and signals can take a little time. But it’s easy once you know how…

What’s your body’s language?

Muscle pains, stiffness, headaches, skin conditions, stomach problems, feeling fuzzy-headed, low energy, all can be symptoms and signals from your body that something is ‘off’ and out of balance.

Start noticing the symptoms and feelings you have and track back over the last 48 to 96 hours to see what has affected your current state.

(Your body takes up to 48 hours to process the foods you eat, but physical aces and pains or emotions can stem from days before or even longer)

If you find it easier you can always track and record this process in a diary, journal, or notes section of your phone. Once you get used to your body signals, you can then start to find out what each of these means…

How to tell if you're lacking a nutrient

A simple check in you can perform

Whether it’s part of your meditation or morning routine make checking in something you do regularly each day (or even multiple times per day).

Scan your body from head to toe, what are you feeling physically and mentally? What feels off? How are your emotions right now? List what are you grateful for. What feels good, and what could be better? Is there a symptom or feeling that’s gotten worse?

When you have the answers to these initial questions start to break down each one. Take notes of what you have been doing up to that point that could have affected you – positive and negative. Look at your mindset, your diet, your environment, the energy of the people you surround yourself with, how you spend your time….

These all have an impact on your body and your day-to-day life.

How to tell if you're lacking a nutrient

How to tell if you’re lacking a nutrient

Just like if you go to the doctors make a list of all the symptoms and feelings you are concerned about or have been dealing with for a while. Once you have a list of symptoms you can then move on to deducing the root cause.

Here are some of the most common causes and symptoms when it comes to nutrient deficiency.

Cravings

If your body is craving a certain food, for eg. broccoli, brazil nuts, seeds, oats, it is trying to tell you something! Your body is very clever and know the source of the thing it needs whether that be vitamin, healthy fats, carbs or something else.

Research the nutritional values of the food you are craving and more often than not you will clearly be able to find what you need more of.

For example:

Broccoli = Iron

Oats =Carbs

Avocados/Seeds/Nuts = Healthy fats

Brazil nuts = Magnesium

Chocolate = Magnesium

Sunflower seeds = Vitamin B6 and Magnesium

Bananas = Potassium

How to tell if you're lacking a nutrient

Flaky skin / Dandruff

Dry patches of skin or a flaky scalp are pretty common and something most people will suffer with at least once in their lifetime. Both flaky skin (or dermatitis) and dandruff can be caused by many factors, a poor nutrition lacking diet being one of them. Low levels of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can also all play a role.

Dizziness & headache

Although dizziness and headaches can be attributed to a lot of different things, if they are also combined with feeling fatigued and exhausted all the time this is very likely due to an iron deficiency, also known as anaemia.

If you suspect that this might be the problem for you it is worth visiting your doctor and asking for some blood tests to confirm a diagnosis first.

How to tell if you're lacking a nutrient

Brittle nails

Having brittle nails is most often caused by a lack of biotin. A nutrient produced naturally by the body (also known as vitamin B7). Although this is a pretty uncommon deficiency and a lot of brittle nails can be caused by overexposure to water from constant washing and having your hands submerged in water.

A biotin supplement may be able to help with both reasons for brittle nails, but try wearing rubber gloves or protecting your hands and keeping them moisturised with almond oil too.

Digestive issues

I truly believe your digestive system is key to your health. The bacteria in your gut and your microbiome are essential to your overall health and wellbeing. They can also be the cause of so many problems and health issues if things are out of balance, so keeping note of any digestive issues you may be having is all the more important.

These can range to everything from heart burn, bloating, or gas (especially how you feel after you have eaten), to your stool and if you have problems with loose or constipated bowl movements. These can be a sign that you are eating the wrong kinds of food, that your body needs more dietary fibre from fruits and vegetables, that you need to be drinking more water, or you should incorporate a probiotic into your diet.

You can also look at reducing inflammation in the gut with an anti inflammatory diet and including gut friendly foods like green vegetables, chia seeds, yoghurt, fermented foods, peppermint, ginger, whole grains, and fennel.

Digestive problems can be signs of more serious problems too, such as IBS, leaky gut, celiacs, Crohn’s disease and similar so if you are worried always seek the advice of your GP.

How to tell if you're lacking a nutrient

Tiredness/Exhaustion/Lack of energy

Feeling tired all the time, having no energy or enthusiasm for a prolonged period of time could be a sign that you are lacking in vitamin B12. This is especially true if you are vegetarian or vegan as B12 is mostly found in red meat.

It could also be a sign of other deficiencies too – that you are low on Iron if coupled with other symptoms such as dizzyness, feeling faint, and headaches (see above). Or a Vitamin D deficiency (see below). So always look at all your symptoms before making a diagnosis…..

Other symptoms that suggest you are low in B12 are heart palpitations and shortness of breath, depression or memory loss, numbness or tingling nerves, pale skin, and feeling lightheaded. As these are all quite serious symptoms always speak to your Doctor and ask for blood tests to confirm a deficiency before self treating.

Rough or bumpy skin

If you suffer from red hair follicles, dry damaged skin, or rough bumpy skin – most commonly found on the backs of your arms, this can be a sign that you are low in Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen production in your body, a protein that is needed for healthy skin, hair, joints, bones AND blood vessels.

A lack of Vitamin C is when these skin conditions can begin to show. Other symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency include spoon shaped (or concaved) nails, bruising easily, wounds that are slow to heal, bleeding gums (or worse tooth loss!), as well as a poor or low immune system.

Muscle and/or Bone pain

Muscle, joint, and bone pain are all most commonly caused by inflammation. However there is also evidence that a Vitamin D deficiency can be a cause of muscle pain. Vitamin D is present in nerve cells which sense pain, studies have shown that a lack of vitamin D can lead to increased pain and sensitivity.

Other symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency include hair loss, slow healing after an injury, depression, back pain, and also fatigue and tiredness. Being sick or getting infections frequently is also a sign of low vitamin D, as vitamin D is essential for keeping your immune system strong.

A Vitamin D deficiency is very common, especially in Countries that don’t get much sun, or if you always wear sunscreen. It is estimated about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels, so its definitely worth getting checked out by your GP.

 

It isn’t always easy to see what the answer to your symptoms are. As you can see there can be some overlap with symptoms. This means that you should pay especially close attention to all the symptoms you have, how eating different foods affects you, and what you do that causes improvements or a worsening in your symptoms.

I hope you found this helpful. As always I am here if you have any questions

Emily xo

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