The body is amazing. Millions of chemical signals are sent throughout the body each day to keep you functioning normally. The body also does a great job providing you, the host, messages about your health as well. Specifically, it tells you when you might be missing something essential from your diet.
As a nutritionist, I help people create diets to optimize their health. It's easy to overlook certain vitamins or nutrients, but if your body is in need of something it may let you know. Keep reading to find out five common problems that can be caused by nutrient deficiencies in the body.
1. Bleeding gums
You might not be consuming enough vitamin C-rich foods. Bleeding gums can be a sign of many things, including gingivitis, or even brushing or flossing too hard. However, a recent meta-analysis found that bleeding gums may also be a sign of a vitamin C deficiency. Additionally, the study also concluded that increasing consumption of vitamin C could help reverse certain bleeding issues.
There's nothing wrong with adding more vitamin C to your diet — and there are easy ways to do it. Snack on bell peppers and broccoli and choose vitamin C-rich fruits like oranges, papaya and berries throughout the day as well.
2. Brittle hair or hair loss
Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons. It may be genetic or caused by hormonal issues: People can experience it postpartum or after a stressful life event. Recently, there have been reports of COVID-19 survivors experiencing hair loss. It could also be a side effect of a medication, or could be related to other health issues like thyroid gland problems, lupus or more.
Hair loss could also indicate that you might be lacking protein and essential fatty acids. A 2017 review in the Journal of International Dermoscopy Society found that nutritional deficiencies impacted both hair structure and hair growth. In addition to zinc, niacin and biotin, amino acids (found in protein) and essential fatty acids were found to be essential components to healthy hair. The review also found that excess intake of supplements such as vitamin A and selenium could result in hair loss.
Want to get the best hair quality? Focus on getting plenty of lean proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Think wild salmon, walnuts and chia seeds.
3. Red skin
An inflammatory condition called rosacea could lead to red skin, and it's best treated by a dermatologist. Though if you're dealing with inconsistent flare-ups, you may blame sugar, salt and refined grains for that. Poor diet and the sun are the enemies of good skin and there's plenty of research to prove it. A recent study out of University of California, found that a typical Western dietary pattern (rich in processed foods abundant in fat and sugar coupled with a low intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables) was associated with the formation of skin inflammation and development of psoriasis in mice.
Previous research has shown associations with obesity and the condition which can manifest as dry, patchy and scaly skin. However, this recent study found that psoriasis symptoms can occur with poor diet, well before changes in weight. To reduce your risk, aim for a whole foods diet, abundant in color, fiber and limited amounts of saturated fats.
4. Constipation or bloating
Multiple studies on fiber content in the diet show that having too little of this non-digestible gem can lead to problems in the bathroom. Constipation (defined as having less than three bowel movements a week or having low quality bowel movements) can be reduced if you have the proper essentials (fiber and water) in your diet to move things along properly. Recommended amounts of fiber are between 25–35 grams per day from sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.
In addition to getting enough fiber in the diet, you’ll also want to make sure you are well hydrated. Dehydration is a key component to worsening constipation.
5. Cuts that are slow to heal
This could be due to the lack of vitamin B in your diet. While there are multiple causes of poor wound healing (such as chronic disease and aging), studies show that a lack of B vitamins may also be a cause. To get plenty of B vitamins in the diet, focus on whole grains, lean meats, eggs, legumes and dark, leafy green vegetables.
Your diet quality can help make or break your risk of chronic disease, your gut health quality and your weight. The next time you experience a less than desirable symptom in or on your body, take a closer look at what you're eating and remember to contact your doctor if problems persist or if the issue is especially concerning.
For more from Kristin Kirkpatrick, follow her on Instagram @fuelwellwithkrissy