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Guide: How to Detect Nutritional Deficiencies

Updated: Jan 4

Did you know that your physical body can actually tell you what nutrients you may be lacking? This article shares some examples of which physical signs to look for, what those signs mean, why it’s important, and which foods you can incorporate on a day-to-day basis to ensure optimal nutritional levels. You can use this information to check in on your overall health as well as your family’s.


The Nails:

Check for: White spots, vertical or horizontal ridging and/or dipping.


Sign for: Zinc deficiency, Vitamin B6 deficiency, and/or a need for more quality protein in the diet.


Why it’s important:

  • Zinc is important for immune function, managing inflammation, stomach acid production, reproduction, wound healing, and mood. Does it take a while for your body to heal from cuts/wounds? Zinc is the wound healer.

  • Vitamin B6 is a big player in metabolism and energy production, it’s needed to utilize neurotransmitters (serotonin/dopamine) which regulate mood and boost the ability to deal with stress.

  • Protein is the building block of EVERY CELL IN THE BODY. Required for structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs as well as enzymes, NTs and hormone production.

Boost nutrition with:

  • Zinc – shellfish like oysters and crab meat, beef, venison, lamb, poultry, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

  • Vitamin B6 – fish (salmon/tuna), poultry, pork, beef, liver, potatoes, avocado, bananas, walnuts, chickpeas and spinach.

  • Protein – poultry, seafood, beef, organ meats (liver), pork, lamb, venison, eggs, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds.

Bonus note: Another good sign of zinc deficiency is lack of taste and smell.


Check for: Spooned nails or pale colored nail beds.


Sign for: Iron deficiency.


Why it’s important: Iron helps in the production of hemoglobin to bring oxygen throughout the body, prevents anemia, supports energy levels, supports thyroid, protects against anxiety/depression.


Boost nutrition with: Oysters, clams, venison, lamb, poultry, salmon, sardines, beans and lentils, dark chocolate, beef, organ meats – liver, spinach, cashews, tomatoes.


Bonus Note: Plant sources contain non-heme Iron, which has a poorer absorption rate than heme iron of only 2-13%. Heme iron from animal proteins has a 25-40% absorption rate. Vitamin C will support iron absorption (bell peppers, oranges, grapefruit, lemon, kiwi, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, strawberries).


Check for: Weak or thin fingernails that easily bend, crack and chip.


Sign for: Zinc, healthy fats, calcium, biotin and a need for more quality protein.


Why it’s important:

  • Zinc – important for immune function, managing inflammation, stomach acid production, reproduction, wound healing, and mood.

  • Healthy Fat – essential for growth, development, and metabolism. Builds hormones, supports healthy skin and tissue integrity, protects organs, and supports nerves and the brain (cognitive function). Fat is a powerful source of energy.

  • Calcium – strong bones and teeth, required for proper nerve transmission and muscle contraction, can help support healthy blood pressure.

  • Biotin – energy production, helps regulates blood sugar, mood support and balance, healthy hair/skin/nails.

  • Protein – the building blocks of every cell in the body. Required for structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs as well as enzymes, NTs and hormone production.

Boost nutrition with:

  • Zinc – shellfish like oysters and crab meat, beef, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

  • Healthy fats – coconut oil/yogurt/flakes, extra virgin olive oil and olives, grass-fed butter or ghee, whole eggs, nuts and seeds (flax seed and walnuts), avocado, seafood and caviar.

  • Calcium – fish (salmon, rainbow trout and sardines), spinach, almonds, white and pinto beans, broccoli, collards, oats, kale, dairy.

  • Biotin – beef liver, eggs, salmon, avocados, pork, sweet potato, almonds, spinach, broccoli.

  • Protein – poultry, seafood, beef, organ meats (liver), pork, lamb, venison, eggs, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds.

Bonus note: This can also be a sign of low stomach acid. If this is the case, you may be consuming enough protein in the diet, but are not digesting it properly. When this is the case - some people will also experience symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, and upper abdominal bloating after eating. If balance is not reached, an overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria and candida can grow throughout the gut.


How to support digestion?

  • Chew, chew, chew

  • Hot ginger and lemon tea in the mornings

  • ACV prior to meals

  • Lemon or lime juice in warm water prior to meals

  • Bitters prior to meals

  • Digestive Enzymes with betaine hcl (10-30 minutes before meals)


Check for: Cracks on the finger around the nail.


Sign for: Essential fatty acids.


Why it’s important: Fat is essential growth, development and metabolism. Builds hormones, supports healthy skin and tissue integrity, protects organs, and supports nerves and the brain (cognitive function). Fat is a powerful source of energy.


Boost nutrition with: coconut oil/yogurt/flakes, extra virgin olive oil and olives, grass-fed butter or ghee, whole eggs, nuts and seeds (flax seed and walnuts), avocado, seafood and caviar.


The Tongue

Check for: Teeth indentations around the edges of your tongue.


Sign for: Dehydration or zinc deficiency as well possible food allergies/sensitivities you may be unaware of.


Why it’s important:

  • Dehydration can cause many symptoms such as muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches and constipation. It’s important to always filter the body with good, clean water to support detox and the body’s natural flow.

  • Zinc – important for immune function, managing inflammation, stomach acid production, reproduction, wound healing, and mood.

  • Food allergies/sensitivities can cause an array of symptoms including breathing issues, skin issues, brain function and mood issues, fatigue, digestive issues, joint pain and muscle aches and so much more. Keep in mind that if you are constantly consuming foods that are causing your body and mind distress, you are causing a great deal of inflammation which can cause even more serious issues down the road.

Boost nutrition with:

  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily (150lb = 75 ounces/day).

  • Zinc - shellfish like oysters and crab meat, beef, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

Bonus note: We offer food sensitivity testing, gut healing protocols and specific meal plans to reduce symptomatic burden. You can also check out the blog ‘How to Use the Elimination Diet for Food Sensitivities’ for a guide to finding food sensitivities yourself.


Check for: Fissures, cracks and/or grooves on the tongue.


Sign for: B vitamin deficiency – folate, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin B12 specifically.


Why it’s important: metabolism and energy production, mood stability, detoxification support, healthy nervous system and brain, heart health, healthy skin, healthy digestion.


Boost nutrition with:

  • Folate – Poultry, organ meats – liver, edamame, beans and lentils, asparagus, and spinach.

  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) - poultry, beef, and organ meats – liver, fish/shellfish, lamb, mushrooms, and avocados.

  • Vitamin B12 – fish and shellfish, beef, organ meats – liver, poultry, and eggs.

Bonus note: Since B vitamins are huge for energy production and mood balance, you may also feel fatigued, anxious, and even depressed or have mood swings. We have to think – if we can see the signs on the outside physical body, what is going on inside?

Body Skin

Check for: Bumps on the back of the arms or the front/inner thighs like ‘goose flesh’ (Hyperkeratosis).


Sign for: Vitamin A deficiency or a need for more healthy fats.


Why it’s important:

  • Vitamin A is important for growth, reproduction, vision, immune function and bone/tooth health. Have dry everything? Vitamin A is crucial for moisture retention of skin, eyes, mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs. Also, amazing antioxidant that can prevent cancer.

  • Healthy fats – essential for growth, development, and metabolism. Builds hormones, supports healthy skin and tissue integrity, protects organs, and supports nerves and the brain (cognitive function). Fat is a powerful source of energy.

Boost nutrition with:

  • Vitamin A - beef, organ meats – liver, fish (cod, salmon, herring), cod liver oil, whole eggs, grass-fed butter. Beta Carotene: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, collards, kale, spinach.

  • Healthy fats - coconut oil/yogurt/flakes, extra virgin olive oil and olives, grass-fed butter or ghee, whole eggs, nuts and seeds (flax seed and walnuts), avocado, seafood and caviar.

Bonus Note: Beta Carotene will convert poorly into active form Vitamin A in many individuals due to a genetic polymorphism. Try to eat Beta Carotene with Vitamin E, Zinc, Iodine and good quality fats (grass-fed butter or ghee on sweet potatoes).


Check for: Easy bruising.


Sign for: Vitamin C or Vitamin K deficiency.


Why it’s important:

  • Vitamin C is an awesome antioxidant that protects your cells from damage and helps the body absorb Iron. It’s important for the overall immune system. Also aids in wound healing, bone/tooth health, strengthening blood vessel walls.

  • Vitamin K assists in normal blood clotting, bone metabolism and health.

Boost nutrition with:

  • Vitamin C - think lots of colorful veggies and low glycemic fruits – bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, oranges, berries, tomatoes and grapefruit.

  • Vitamin K – collards, turnip greens, goose/chicken liver, kale, egg yolks, grass-fed butter, olive oil, beef, parsley and cashews.

Bonus note: Bleeding or swollen gums is also a sign of Vitamin C deficiency.


Check for: Skin rashes and eczema.


Sign for: Need for healthy fats as well as possible food sensitivities and/or an imbalance in gut flora.


Why it’s important: Fat is essential for growth, development, and metabolism. Builds hormones, supports healthy skin and tissue integrity, protects organs, and supports nerves and the brain (cognitive function). Fat is a powerful source of energy.


Boost nutrition with: coconut oil/yogurt/flakes, extra virgin olive oil and olives, grass-fed butter or ghee, whole eggs, nuts and seeds (flax seed and walnuts), avocado, seafood and caviar.


Bonus note: Food sensitivity testing or utilizing the elimination diet can help (big culprits are gluten, dairy, eggs). Having food sensitivities is also a sign that you may have a ‘leaky gut’ that needs some love and repair to protect against possible autoimmune issues down the road. A healthy gut microbiome is EVERYTHING to your overall health. The appearance of skin issues is a sign that the gut needs attention. Try to include probiotic and prebiotic rich foods (asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, leeks, onions, garlic, bananas, dandelion greens / unsweetened coconut yogurt or kefir, sauerkraut, fermented veggies – beets, pickles). (Also check out How to Heal the Skin from Within: 3-Part Series)

The Face:

Check for: Cracking at the corners of the mouth (Angularis Cheilitis).


Sign for: B vitamin deficiency – Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Or Candida/yeast overgrowth in the gut.


Why It’s important: metabolism and energy production, mood stability, detoxification support, healthy nervous system and brain, heart health, healthy skin, healthy digestion.


Boost nutrition with:

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)- beef liver, beef, clams, mushrooms, whole fat yogurt, whole eggs, almonds, spinach, chicken, asparagus, salmon, quinoa.

  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)- poultry, beef, and organ meats – liver, fish/shellfish, lamb, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocados.

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)- poultry, chickpeas, beef liver, avocado, salmon, sweet potato, bananas, walnuts.

  • Vitamin B12 - fish and shellfish (clams, oysters, salmon, trout), beef, organ meats – liver, poultry, and whole eggs.

Bonus note: This can also be a sign of yeast overgrowth in the gut. If you are also experiencing lower abdominal bloating, gas, odor with gas, cravings for sugar/sweets/breads/pastas, have a large appetite or never feel satisfied, and are possibly experiencing a ‘foggy brain’, you may want to work on balancing the gut flora.


We offer diagnostic testing and custom protocols, so you have a better understanding of your gut balance and the best plan for healing.


Check for: Redness around the nostril area.


Sign for: A need for B vitamins – B2, B3, B6 as well as healthy fats.


Why it’s important:

  • B vitamins - metabolism and energy production, mood stability, detoxification support, healthy nervous system and brain, heart health, healthy skin, healthy digestion.

  • Healthy Fats - essential for growth, development, and metabolism. Builds hormones, supports healthy skin and tissue integrity, protects organs, and supports nerves and the brain (cognitive function). Fat is a powerful source of energy.

Boost nutrition with:

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)- beef liver, beef, clams, mushrooms, whole fat yogurt, whole eggs, almonds, spinach, chicken, asparagus, salmon, quinoa.

  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)- poultry, beef, and organ meats – liver, fish/shellfish, lamb, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocados

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)- poultry, chickpeas, beef liver, avocado, salmon, sweet potato, bananas, walnuts.

  • Healthy fats - coconut oil/yogurt/flakes, extra virgin olive oil and olives, grass-fed butter or ghee, whole eggs, nuts and seeds (flax seed and walnuts), avocado, seafood and caviar.


Check for: Acne on the face, back, and chest.


Sign for: Zinc and selenium deficiency. However, it can be due to food sensitivities and/or overgrowth of bacteria and/or yeast in the gut as well.


Why it’s important:

  • Zinc – important for immune function, managing inflammation, stomach acid production, reproduction, wound healing, and mood.

  • Selenium – important for thyroid health, reproduction and has antioxidant involvement. It also activates Vitamin C which enhances immunity.

Boost nutrition with:

  • Zinc - shellfish like oysters and crab meat, beef, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

  • Selenium – Brazil nuts (just 2-3 a day is sufficient), fish and shellfish (sardines), beef, poultry, brown rice, eggs, spinach, lentils.

Bonus note: Depending on where the acne is on the face, we have more insight into possible liver congestion, hormone imbalance, and overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the gut.


Check for: Flushing of the face or ears.


Sign of: Vitamin B2 deficiency or food allergies/sensitivities.


Why it’s important: Energy production, antioxidant involvement, mood balance, healthy eyesight and skin health.


Boost nutrition with: Beef liver, beef, clams, mushrooms, whole fat yogurt, whole eggs, quinoa, salmon, almonds, spinach, chicken, asparagus

 

These are just a few easy-to-notice signs of nutrient deficiencies. Keep in mind that these nutrients offer way more to the body and mind than can be added in a single blog! Purely Rooted Nutrition and Wellness offers sensitive and reliable testing that will give you a better idea of what your body actually needs as well as food sensitivities and gut flora imbalances. Check out our Triad and GI Map testing or contact us for more information.



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