It can be difficult to maintain a healthy balance in life, and one of the most difficult balances to maintain is the body’s nutritional balance.
Thanks to our modern lifestyles, our reliance on processed foods and the many challenges of our fast-paced lives, many people are nutritionally lacking. However, we often don’t realise that the reason we don’t feel that well or things don’t seem right is all to do with what we’re consuming.
However, if we listen and look carefully enough, we might be surprised just how much our own body can tell us about what we need.
Here are some signs the body gives us that our bodies don’t have the balance quite right.
1. Soft or Brittle Nails
(Could be a magnesium deficiency)
When it comes to our bones and our fingernails, a lack of calcium is often thought to be the cause of issues, but this is actually not always true. In fact, a magnesium deficiency may be behind the problems you’re having, both in the nails and elsewhere. Poor nail growth, high blood pressure, anxiety, muscle pain and general weakness are all related to not getting enough magnesium in your diet.
Low levels of magnesium in the blood have also been linked with conditions like hypoparathyroidism. This condition does cause brittle nails, dry hair, tingling limbs and cataracts in some people and is most often caused by an injury to the parathyroid glands. But recent studies have suggested that magnesium deficiency can also cause it.
In order to increase the amount of magnesium in your system, consume more dark leafy greens, dried fruit, fish and grains.
2. Cold Hands
(Might be an iodine deficiency)
You might have had cold hands in the past and put it down to bad blood circulation or even just the cold weather, but there might be something more to it. Research has indicated that cold hands are often the result of a lack of iodine in the body. Iodine, an element that is common in the seas of our planet, is essential to human health because it is used by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones.
In the case of a severe deficiency, the thyroid gland will swell and cause pain, but before that, the signs could be as simple as cold hands.
If you’re suffering with cold hands and think that it might be related to an iodine deficiency, you can combat it by increasing the amount of seaweed that you eat. Various seafoods, and even baked potatoes, can also help to increase your iodine intake.
3. Greasy and Red Scaly Skin
(Suggests a lack of riboflavin)
A lack of riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, has been found to cause a number of skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema. One of the main symptoms of a lack of vitamin B2 in your diet is dry skin, itching and cracking or sores in the corners of the lips and nose. This is one of those bodily signs that your health professional might pick up on, but if they don’t, it’s worth knowing about.
Vitamin B2 is actually seriously important. It helps produce red blood cells, protect the nervous system and enhance the immune system to fight diseases. This is pretty amazing considering it’s something that you can get easily from soybeans, beet greens, turkey, spinach and yoghurt.
4. White Spots On Nails
(Indicates a zinc deficiency)
Little white spots on the nails are such a common occurrence that pretty much everyone will have them at some point in their lives. They can be caused by a number of things, and shouldn’t cause anxiety if you just get a few every now and again. However, if they really annoy you, there are some indicators that a zinc deficiency might be the cause.
Zinc is not the only possible cause of the white spots. Some nutritionalists argue that it’s calcium, not zinc, that is actually to blame. If your diet is already rich in calcium and you’re still getting those little white spots, it probably makes sense to amp up the zinc-rich foods in your diet. This includes spinach, seafood, beans, mushrooms and cashews.
5. Dry or Scaly Skin
(Could be lack of vitamin A)
Weather is often the thing that we blame for having dry skin that is scaly or flaking, but although cold weather can indeed cause these issues, so can a lack of vitamin A. This vitamin, also known as retinol, is linked to the replacement of skin cells and also helps in regulating a number of growth factors. Since the 1980s, products that are high in vitamin A have been used in the treatment of acne and even psoriasis due to their effect on stopping sebaceous gland activity.
Of course, some nutritionists still aren’t entirely behind the idea that the quality of our skin is affected by our diet, but nutritional balance is likely to play some part as the skin is just another organ in the body.
To fight a vitamin A deficiency, try and eat foods like red meat, cod liver oil, seafood and some butters and creams, all of which are high in the vitamin.
6. Painful Smooth Tongue
(Might be a folic acid deficiency)
Most women in particular know that folic acid plays a big part in pregnancy, but it’s actually important all through our lives. People should be getting about 400 micrograms of folic acid a day, or 600 micrograms if they’re pregnant. When you don’t get enough folic acid, it may cause you to get a swollen tongue and mouth sores, as well as result in fatigue, more grey hair growth, diarrhoea and more.
A few things cause a folic acid deficiency, such as drinking too much, eating vegetables when they are too overcooked, or simply not getting enough fruit and vegetables in your diet. To up your folic acid levels, eat more dark leafy greens, broccoli, okra, peas, lentils and asparagus.
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice.
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.