Nutritional health

5 signs that you might be nutrient deficient

Is your long-term FAD diet sustainable? It may check efficacy and be a good fit for busy lifestyles. Or signal a need to fortify micronutrients to achieve a sweet spot for a balanced diet.

01 Nov 2022
5 signs that you might be nutrient deficient

In our ever busier lives, we might be drawn to quick and convenient meals to get us through the day. But when we are not paying attention to what we are eating, we may accidentally miss out on some key vitamins and minerals that are important for our health.

Nutrient deficiencies can affect our body’s functions and processes at a cellular level, and even lead to diseases. So it’s worth paying attention to the symptoms to address possible gaps before any irreversible damage happens.

Here are some common symptoms that could indicate that you might be missing out on some of them.

1. Hair loss

Losing about 100 hairs a day is normal and part of the regular hair growth cycle. But if you’re noticing a dramatic increase in hair fall in the shower, on your pillow, or when you run your hands through your hair, it could be a sign that you are low in iron. 

Iron contributes to DNA synthesis in hair follicles, and insufficient iron can result in stopping their growth or causing hair to fall out. Low iron levels can also contribute to increased fatigue, weakness and dizziness, and feeling cold. If you’re noticing all these symptoms alongside your hair loss, it could be an indicator of an iron deficiency. 

The best dietary sources of iron are from foods like red meat, shellfish, beans, seeds, and dark leafy greens. Avoid iron supplements unless advised by a medical professional, as too much iron is also harmful.

2. Unexplained fatigue

Feeling tired and fatigued due to lack of sleep, stress, or illness is common, but if your fatigue is prolonged and unexplainable, it may indicate a vitamin D deficiency. Nearly every cell in our body has a vitamin D receptor, as it plays a crucial part in our body’s functioning.

Studies have shown that in people with a vitamin D deficiency, supplementing with it can reduce the severity of fatigue. The best dietary sources of vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, and egg yolks. Many milks, oatmeals and cereals are also fortified with vitamin D.


3. Bone pain

Another symptom of a vitamin D deficiency is also bone pain. Vitamin D improves calcium absorption in your body, which helps with bone health. Calcium mineralises bones and teeth and is vital for bone maintenance. If your calcium intake is insufficient, your bones release their calcium stores. 

Signs of severe calcium deficiency can include numbness and tingling in your fingers, and an irregular heartbeat. In the long-term, it may cause osteoporosis, which is when your bones become softer and more fragile.

You can find calcium in foods such as dairy products and boned fish, as well as dark leafy green vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and spinach.

4. Poor night vision

A noticeable decrease in the quality of your vision at night could be a sign of insufficient vitamin A intake. Vitamin A helps produce pigments in your eye that are necessary for vision. A lack of it causes the cornea to become dry, which can cloud your vision and damage your retina. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in the world. 

However, be cautious with consuming too much preformed vitamin A (found in meat, fish, poultry and dairy) or taking vitamin A supplements as it may cause toxicity. Instead, consume foods rich in pro-vitamin A, found like fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens, which contain beta carotene that your body will convert into vitamin A.


5. Bleeding gums

Red, swollen and bleeding gums despite your gentlest oral hygiene efforts may be a sign that your body is not repairing itself quickly. This can be accompanied with other symptoms such as wounds taking longer to heal, or bruising easily. If so, consider increasing your intake of vitamin C-rich foods.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cell damage, and is crucial in healing wounds. Make sure to have at least 2 pieces of fruit and 3 to 4 portions of vegetables daily. Keep in mind that smoking inhibits your body’s ability to absorb vitamin C, so taking steps to quit will make strides in improving your overall health. 

There is no shortcut– a balanced diet is the way to go

There are many overlaps between the symptoms and their related vitamin deficiencies. Rather than focusing on a single nutrient, have a holistic view on your meals and ensure that you are eating a variety of whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you suspect that you may have a serious nutrient deficiency, do consult a doctor and get a blood test taken. Blood tests can check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and your doctor can advise you on the next steps to address the issue.

There is no one diet that can solve all your vitamin and nutrition gaps. Let us protect you from gaps in your health coverage in times of illness. 

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