Published On: Tue, Jul 4th, 2017

Vitamin or mineral deficiency: How to spot the signs, and which foods can help

We all know that we should be consuming vitamins in the foods we eat, but which are the right ones to take and where do we get them?

Vitamin or mineral deficiency: How to spot the signs, and which foods can help

Experts have revealed the everyday symptoms which could show you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, including cracked lips, headaches and bad breath.

Persistent dandruff, itchy or dry skin, low mood and even stress could also be signs you need more of a certain vitamin or mineral in your diet. Other issues which could point to a deficiency include thinning hair, a low libido, white spots on your nails and tiredness.

The findings, after a survey by Healthspan, found 44 per cent of Brits admit they have no idea about the different vitamins and minerals they should be consuming.

Spotting the signs

One in 20, of the 2,000 adults polled, believe they need to be eating krill oil and vegetable oil for a healthy body, while some even said they thought kryptonite and kerosene are essential vitamins and minerals! And almost 6 in 10 admit they are clueless about the signs which could show they are suffering from a mineral deficiency.

Worryingly, almost half of Brits are unaware that taking medications, antibiotics and even drinking tea and coffee can all affect how you absorb vitamins and minerals. Healthspan’s head of nutrition Rob Hobson said: “Many of these symptoms are things people put up with every day, thinking they are just par for the course.

“But often they could be a sign that you are suffering a vitamin or mineral deficiency and simply eating foods which contain the item you are lacking could ease your symptoms. For example, a headache could be an indicator that you need more magnesium, vitamin B12 and B6 – something you can get from eating pumpkin seeds, prunes, banana or fortified soy milk. And even bad breath, while a possible sign of poor oral hygiene, could also be linked to your gut health and an iron deficiency. It’s important to bear in mind that your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals can also be affected by medications you are taking, such as antibiotics or the oral contraceptive pill, as well as aspects of your diet such as whether you drink tea or coffee.”

  • Cracking lips can be a sign of a vitamin C or iron deficiency, with eating more red meat, red peppers, kale and tofu a way of boosting levels of the vitamins and minerals in your diet.
  • Persistent dandruff could be an indicator you need more biotin or vitamin B7, while feeling stressed could be a sign you need to consume more magnesium, zinc or essential fatty acids.
  • A magnesium deficiency could also be indicated by insomnia, PMS or PMT and restless legs.
  • Thinning hair could be a result of a mild iron and vitamin C deficiency and white spots on the nails could signal a lack of zinc and iron.

The research found 36 per cent of people have made a conscious effort to boost their intake of certain vitamins and minerals because they felt they were lacking in them, while 28 per cent have even sought professional help. And one in five have suffered from a symptom or health condition which was caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Vitamin or mineral deficiency: How to spot the signs, and which foods can help

Supplements v vitamins?

It also emerged that 41 per cent of Brits are currently taking a supplement, with 68 per cent of those saying they do so to improve their health. But almost one in five have the supplement as an insurance policy and one in 10 take it for a ‘quick boost.’

Healthspan’s Dr Sarah Brewer added: “An estimated 40 per cent of UK adults take at least one dietary supplement, whether vitamins, minerals, fish oils, glucosamine, isoflavones or
herbal remedies.

“Many people taking a food supplement or herbal remedy are also taking at least one prescribed drug. In fact, the popularity of complementary medicine has now increased to the extent that 30% of people use them at the same time as conventional medications. Although the risk of serious interactions between vitamins, minerals and prescribed drugs is low, many drugs appear to deplete body stores of vitamins and minerals and, in these cases, a replenishing supplement is desirable – but are you taking the right one? Many popular dietary ingredients also deplete levels of certain vitamins and minerals and can interfere with the absorption of food supplements.”

Vitamin or mineral deficiency: How to spot the signs, and which foods can help

What is your body telling you?

  • Cracking lips – Iron and or /vitamin C deficiency
  • Acne – Possible zinc deficiency
  • Recurrent mouth ulcers, sore tongue – Iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12, B3 deficiency, B, zinc and essential fatty acid deficiency
  • Psoriasis – Vitamin D deficiency plus mixed vitamin B, zinc and essential fatty acid deficiency
  • Tired all the time – B vitamins, iron and magnesium deficiencies but also underactive thyroid
  • Headaches – Magnesium plus could be vitamin B12 and B6 as well dietary factors
  • Bad Breath – Poor oral hygiene, but can be linked to gut health as well as iron deficiency
  • White spots on nails – Could be lack of zinc or iron
  • Red greasy skin at side of nose – Sign of vitamin B2 (riboflavin and or vitamin B6 and/or zinc deficiency

Vitamin or mineral deficiency: How to spot the signs, and which foods can help

Physical signs and
symptoms

What could it be?

Foods that
can help

Cracking lips

Iron and or /vitamin C
deficiency

Red meat, red peppers

kale, tofu, fresh salmon

Persistent dandruff

Biotin or vitamin B7 plus deficient in essential fatty acids

Almonds, peanut butter

sunflower seeds, lemons

Thinning hair

Could be mild iron and vitamin C deficiency

Kiwi fruit, strawberries

red kidney beans, eggs

Psoriasis

Vitamin D deficiency plus mixed vitamin B, zinc and essential fatty acid deficiency

Prawns, fresh tuna,

mushrooms, sunflower seeds

Itchy/dry skin

Omega-6 essential fatty acid deficiency

Pine nuts, sesame seeds

turkey mince, crab

Acne

Possible zinc deficiency

Spinach, cashew nuts,

cocoa powder, lean pork

White spots on nails

Could be lack of zinc or iron

Mushrooms, chickpeas

dried apricots, flaxseed

Split brittle nails

Iron deficiency

Chicken liver, pistachio nuts,

lentils, feta cheese

Red greasy skin
at side of nose

Sign of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and or vitamin B6 and/or zinc deficiency

Almonds, mackerel,

asparagus, black beans

Recurrent mouth ulcers,
sore tongue

Iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12, B3 deficiency

Pak choi, avocado,

Trout, raisins

Bad breath

Poor oral hygiene but can be linked to gut health as well as iron deficient

Peas, fortified breakfast
cereals, adzuki beans,

pumpkin seeds

Headaches

Magnesium plus could be vitamin B12 and B6 as well  dietary factors

Prunes, banana,

fortified soy milk, eggs

Lost sense of taste

Possible zinc deficiency

Red meat, yoghurt

red kidney beans,
cashew nuts

Depression

Low in Vitamin B, Vitamin D, magnesium deficient as well as low in essential fatty acids

Kale, mushrooms

barley, quinoa

Low mood

Vitamin D as well as the B vitamins and magnesium

Salmon, avocado

French beans, mushrooms

Low libido

Can be vitamin D

Fortified breakfast cereals

mackerel, eggs, tofu

Anxiety

A whole raft of deficiencies from vitamin D, magnesium, B vitamins and even calcium

Milk, bananas

dates, fresh tuna

Stress

Magnesium, zinc, essential fatty acids

Cocoa powder

prawns, sunflower seeds,
dried apricots

Tired all time

B vitamins, iron and magnesium deficiencies but also underactive thyroid

Brazil nuts, soya beans

chickpeas, avocado

Can’t sleep/Insomnia

Could be deficient in
magnesium

Pine nuts, sesame seeds

turkey mince, crab

Restless legs

Lack of magnesium / iron or folate

Dried oregano,

dark chocolate, trout

Aching joints

Low levels of magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamin B1 and vitamin D if there is
hypocalcaemia (low
calcium levels)

Pork, chia seeds,

macadamia nuts, cashew nuts

PMS / PMT

Low levels of magnesium and levels of oestrogen

Pumpkin seeds,

mackerel, wild rice, red meat

Cold hands and feet

Could be due to anaemia so lack of iron

Kale, tofu, cumin

www.healthspan.co.uk

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