5 Warning Signs That You May Be Vitamin Deficient

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Turns out that the breakout you just can’t seem to shake might not be due to hormones or improper post-workout cleansing, but rather a diet-related vitamin deficiency. Ditto for the cramping and headaches. To demystify what exactly our bodies might be telling us, we turned to nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos — the host of Peggy K’s Kitchen Cures on Veria Network, author of Must Have Been Something I Ate and Kitchen Cures, and nutrition correspondent for several TV shows.

Time for some dietary tweaks.

1. Headaches and/or muscle cramps: Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies. Roughly 75% of the North American population is deficient in magnesium. Despite these stats, magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body and is a critical nutrient for nervous system function. It helps relax nerves and tense muscles, alleviates muscle cramping and headaches, and can help you fall asleep. Since your skin is the largest organ, one of the easiest, and most relaxing ways, to sooth those nerves and muscles is by taking a bath with Epsom salts. Epsom salts are high in magnesium helping to ease cramping and promote relaxation.

2. Acne: Zinc deficiency

If you are way past puberty, but still seem to be breaking out, it could be a sign of a zinc deficiency. Zinc not only adds color and brightness to the complexion, but also controls the production of oil in the skin. An over production of sebum can clog up pores and result in pesky acne. Zinc also helps to sooth inflamed skin, regenerate skin cells, and speeds up the acne healing process should a pimple strike. In addition, zinc inhibits acne causing 5-alpha-reductase activity (the enzyme that converts testosterone into its more active, pimple-promoting form). Consuming just 30 milligrams per day helps fight acne, and a quarter cup of raw pumpkin seeds provides just over half that recommended amount.

3. Dry/broken/brittle hair, brittle nails: Biotin deficiency

Biotin (vitamin B7) is the heart and soul of healthy hair. Deficiency signs include hair loss, hair breakage, brittle hair, and even brittle nails. If you’re looking to strengthen your tresses, ignite hair growth, or just feel confident that bad hair won’t plague you, stock up on foods rich in biotin for that added assurance (Swiss chard, carrots, almonds, peanuts and bananas, for example).

4. Thinning hair: Iron deficiency

Thinning hair is hard for men, but pinpointing the cause is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack; there are so many factors. However, an iron deficiency could be one of them. Iron is the pack mule of your body, helping to carry oxygen — not to mention other nutrients — to your hair follicles. Low iron levels or anemia results in less nutrients being delivered to hair follicles via oxygen resulting in hair loss.  The healthier your hair follicles are, the healthier your scalp will be, which results in healthier new hair growth.

5. White little bumps on back of arm: Essential fatty acid imbalance

Those little bumps commonly found on the back of the arm are often a result of an essential fatty acid imbalance. In particular low levels of omega 3 fatty acids relative to other fatty acids. Just by upping the amount of omega 3s you consume, you should start to see those bumps slowly disappear. In addition, omega 3s are anti-inflammatory, which reduce the inflammation of the bumps and help to dissolve build-up and prevent hardening within the hair follicle, causing them in the first place.

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