6 Warning Signs of a Nutritional Deficiency

6 Warning Signs of a Nutritional Deficiency

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A nutritional deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t absorb the necessary amount of a nutrient. Deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems. These can include problems of digestion, skin problems, stunted or defective bone growth, and even dementia.

Ideally, we would consume enough minerals, vitamins and nutrients through our diets, but the fact is that many of us do not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in ten people are “nutrient-deficient.”

Dietary supplements are just that: they supplement any vitamins, minerals, etc. that we may be lacking. In some cases, people use supplements for expediency or when trying to alter the appearance of their body (e.g. muscle gain or fat loss.)

Are supplements the answer?


There is no doubt that many high-quality and effective supplements exist on the market. However, supplements are not regulated the way traditional medicines (i.e. pharmaceuticals) are; which is a common talking point against the marketing of supplements.

In this article, we discuss 6 signs that your body may be affected by a nutritional deficiency. Keep in mind that dietary alterations may accomplish the same. Consulting with a health professional – a dietitian, nutritionist or physician – may help determine whether we should use supplements (or other, more natural means).

Here are those 6 signs:

1. Your hair and/or nails are looking a bit rough

Our skin – the largest organ of the human body – requires plenty of nutrition to stay healthy. The same is also true for our nails.


So, if you’re dealing with skin problems – flaking, inflammation, irritation, etc. – you may not be getting enough biotin in your diet. Same thing applies if your nails are brittle or cracking.

Biotin is found in dairy, eggs, proteins and whole grains. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of biotin is 30 micrograms.

2. Your bowel movements are irregular

No one likes talking about poop, okay? But, when we’re constipated, nauseous, throwing up or dealing with “the squirts,” it may indicate a nutrient deficiency.

Niacin is essential for proper digestion and also for the suppressing any unwanted gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. It can be found in plenty of foods: green veggies, eggs, fish, meat, and nuts. RDI is between 14 to 18 milligrams.

3. You’ve got the “red eyes”

Not talking about those “hangover eyes,” but anyways…


When our body is low in vitamin B2 (riboflavin), it can manifest into red (“bloodshot”) eyes. According to one expert, this deficiency “is more common in people on extreme diets who are underweight or those with digestive problems such as celiac disease.”

Riboflavin is plentiful in foods such as: green and leafy veggies, eggs, fish, milk, and lean meats. RDI is approximately 1.5 milligrams per day.

4. You bruise too often/too easy

Excessive bruising often results from low levels of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant; protecting our cells from free radicals and anything that threatens to damage them. Of course, “C” also hardens our immune system and makes it more difficult for sickness to take over.

Low levels of vitamin C may cause bruising, as we’re exposed to weakening of the vessels at the skin’s surface.

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Vitamin C is plentiful in citrus fruits, kale, peppers and strawberries.

5. You “cramp up” too much

Although rare, a vitamin E deficiency can often be felt in the form of body cramps. This is particularly true with leg cramps. A study published in the journal California Medicine discovered, after administering vitamin E to 24 patients, found that “nearly all of the patients with leg gramps received prompt and gratifying relief.”

“E” can be found in foods such as: cereals, eggs, green leafy veggies, vegetable oils, seeds and nuts.


6. You feel tired all the time

First things first: there are a myriad of reasons why someone can feel tired: underlying medical condition, overwork, lack of sleep, etc., etc. This is important to remember, as feelings of low energy are ubiquitous to say the least.

Related article: 6 Things People With A Healthy Gut Do Differently


Glucose – in the form of healthy carbohydrates – is the body’s primary source of energy production. Additionally, glucose is the most expedient nutritional source to convert into energy.

Healthy glucose sources include: whole-grains, fruits, low-fat yogurt and milk. RDI, as recommended by dietary experts, is 130 grams.

Ayres, S., Jr., & Mihan, R. (n.d.). Leg Cramps (Systremma) and “Restless Legs” Syndrome — Response to Vitamin E (Tocopherol). California Medicine, 111(2), 87-91. Retrieved December 15, 2016, from US National Library of Medicine.
Butler, N., RD, LD. (Ed.). (2015, November 6). Nutritional Deficiencies (Malnutrition). Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/malnutrition#Overview1
Hanson, M., RD (Ed.). (2014, March 1). Sources of Glucose. Retrieved December 15, 2016, from https://www.ghc.org/healthAndWellness/?item=/common/healthAndWellness/conditions/diabetes/glucoseSources.html
Pflugradt, S., MS, RD. (2016, December 03). Essential Nutrients That Supply Energy. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/523593-6-essential-nutrients-that-supply-energy
Sinrich, J. (2016, September 22). 7 Signs You Might Need a Supplement. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/signs-you-might-need-a-supplement/slide/6
Spritzler, F., RD, CDE. (2011, September 25). Carbohydrates: How Low is Too Low? Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.lowcarbdietitian.com/blog/low-carb-how-low-is-too-low
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