You’ve probably heard about white spots on your nails and low energy and what it can mean in terms of deficiencies.  There are a few well known signs of nutritional deficiency, but your body is actually sending you messages all the time about nutritional deficiencies, and you probably don’t even recognise them!  

Here’s four surprising signs of nutritional deficiencies…

1. Muscle tension

Muscle tension is something that many of us deal with every single day.  If you have a tendency to stress, chances are you have a tendency to hold tension in your muscles.  Why? Magnesium is an important mineral required for the relaxation response in your muscles, meaning if you don’t have enough magnesium in your body your muscles aren’t getting the signal to relax.  This means your muscles are continuously in the ‘contracted’ state, which in the long term causes a build up of tension and pain. The reason you’re more likely to experience muscle tension when you’re stressed is that your body burns up magnesium stores to cope with stress, leaving little or none left for your muscles to relax.  So in summary, stress leads to decreased magnesium in the body which causes muscle tension and pain. The solution? a) stress less and b) eat lots of magnesium rich foods, like whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts and fresh green veggies.

2. Hangnails

You know those little bits of skin that you sometimes get around your fingernails?  They’re called hangnails, and not only are they annoying and super painful when you rip them off, they’re actually a sign of a deficiency in the mineral selenium.  Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and helps to protect your red blood cells and DNA from oxidative damage. It also plays an important role in the maintenance of youthful skin.  Selenium content in Australian soil is extremely low, making us a higher risk group for being deficient in this mineral. To get more selenium into your diet and get rid of those nasty hangnails, try eating more Brazil nuts – they’re full of selenium!  Other selenium-rich foods include liver, beef, grains and mushrooms.

3. Bumps on your upper arms

Have you ever noticed that the skin on your upper arms can get bumpy and raised at times?  The spots may be white, red or uncoloured and can vary from very raised and large to barely noticeable. According to traditional medicine, these spots are an indicator of essential fatty acid deficiency.  Deficiency in fat, I hear you say? Yes, it’s possible. The human body is capable of synthesising a lot of things on its own, but there are 12 specific fatty acids that we need for optimal health that cannot be made in our body, which means we need to consume them in our diet!  These fatty acids are called essential fats, or EFAs, and if you’ve got bumpy skin on your upper arm you might want to think about eating more of them. Good sources of EFAs include salmon, tuna, avocado, flaxseeds, nuts and good quality olive oil.

4. Cracks at the side of your mouth

Cracks at the sides of your mouth can be really painful, and can actually represent a deficiency in B vitamins.  B vitamins are actually a large group of vitamins, and are collectively important for a range of things including nervous system and brain health, energy production, metabolism, and more.  If you have cracks at the edges of your mouth, a good quality B complex supplement will provide you with a nutritional boost of all the different B vitamins. You can maintain your B vitamin levels by eating foods such as organ meats, leafy green veggies, whole grains, eggs, nuts and legumes.