5 Key Nutrients & Signs of Deficiency

Did you know that a deficiency in just one key nutrient could result in a whole host of symptoms that can derail your overall health and wellness?

As I have mentioned in previous posts, your body almost always lets you know, through symptoms, when something is off. For this reason, it is important to be paying attention to the way you feel overall, after you eat certain things, and any patterns of symptoms that you are experiencing. To help you do this, I have made this week's Friday Five all about nutrient deficiencies and their potential symptoms!

Please keep in mind while you are reading that these symptoms do not mean you definitely have a deficiency - many times, they can overlap with other issues as well. This is meant to help you learn to pay attention to how you are feeling. If you are concerned and would like to know for sure, I suggest working with your natural health practitioner!

1. Protein

As you may know, protein is one of the 3 macro-nutrients that are key in your diet. Protein is responsible for helping to build cells, and is actually the largest component of your body, after water! Protein also plays an important role in hormone synthesis. When most people think of protein, their first thought is animal protein, but it is also important to include other sources of protein in your diet - which is easier than you think, because all foods actually contain some protein!

Possible Signs of Deficiency:

  • Fluid retention

  • Anemia

  • Cuticles that tear easily

  • Dry, dull hair. Hair falling out

  • Nausea or dizziness

  • Poor coordination

2. Essential Fatty Acids

EFA's are fats that the body cannot produce itself, and so they must be consumed through food or supplements (which is what makes them essential!). EFA's play an important role in the cell membrane, hormones and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Deficient levels of EFA's have also been linked to auto-immune conditions. At least 10% - 15% of your daily caloric intake should be healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, etc.)

Possible Signs of Deficiency:

  • Dry, flaky skin

  • Eczema

  • Poor memory

  • Irregular menstruation

  • Brittle hair

3. Zinc

Zinc is an important mineral that helps with tissue and cell formation in the body. It also impacts taste, wound healing, skin elasticity, and reproductive health (to name a few). A few good sources of dietary zinc include steak, brewer's yeast (nutritional yeast), pumpkin seeds, soybeans and mushrooms. Ideally, you are getting around 50-60mg of zinc daily.

Possible Signs of Deficiency:

  • White spots on fingernails

  • Frequent bacterial or viral infections

  • Impaired sense of smell or taste

  • Red stretch marks on skin

  • Poor dream recall

4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C has long been associated with immune health, but in fact it has many other important functions in the body. This vitamin is a powerful anti-oxidant but similar to EFA's, it cannot be produced by the body so it must be obtained by diet and supplementation. Vitamin C helps in the formation of collagen, the metabolism of amino acids, hormone synthesis and the body's ability to absorb nutrients like folic acid and iron. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, prescription drugs and other environmental toxins deplete Vitamin C in the body.

Possible Signs of Deficiency:

  • Bleeding gums

  • Reoccurring urinary tract infections

  • Slow wound healing

  • Skin bruises easily

  • Muscle cramps

5. Vitamin B12

Along with folic acid and B6, vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the digestive process and the metabolism of fatty acids. It also directly impacts the health of the nervous system, which includes functions like memory, energy, and concentration. B12 is actually stored in the liver and kidney for up to five years, so a deficiency is slow to appear through symptoms. Over time though, poor digestive function and diet block the body's ability to absorb vitamin B12, which leads to a deficiency.

Possible Signs of Deficiency:

  • Fatigue or general weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Spoon-shaped fingernails

  • Ringing in ears

  • Memory loss

  • Numbness, tingling or soreness in hands and feet

If you suspect that you may be deficient in these, or other nutrients and would like to start an evaluation, you can contact me through my website and I am happy to help!

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A year ago, I decided it’s time to change my lifestyle. This meant taking control of my life and making important decisions..

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