Is There Something Missing from Your Diet?

Listen to your body's clues

It’s hard to imagine in our modern society, where there is a restaurant on every block, and even the convenience stores seem to be carrying protein bars and fresh fruit, that any person could be undernourished. Yet this is the case for many people, especially as we age, and it doesn’t mean we are starving like people in third world countries or susceptible to deficiency diseases from days of yore like scurvy or rickets. What it does mean, however, is that as we age, our bodies have a harder time taking in all the nutrients they need, especially as our calorie intake needs lessen. What are the signs that key nutrients may be missing from your diet?

You’ve lost your appetite. This may seem like an unusual way to tell if you are deficient in any of the essential vitamins or nutrients your body needs, but eating less could be a sign of bigger issues. Certain medications have the potential to mess with your appetite, causing you to eat less overall and consume less vitamin- and mineral-rich foods. Eating less can lead to a loss of essential things your body needs to function. Fortunately, there are tests available to determine which nutrients your body is lacking, so this issue can be addressed with a visit to your doctor. 

Your hair looks and feels like straw. You’re not a scarecrow, yet your hair is dry and brittle. While this can be embarrassing as a cosmetic issue, it has far more serious consequences as a health issue. Your hair can tell a story about your health, such as whether you are getting enough fatty acids, protein or iron. Loss of hair is another indicator something is wrong. Any noticeable changes to the texture or volume of your hair can be discussed with your doctor, and often a remedy of vitamin-packed foods and supplements can lessen the damage.

You are unusually tired. One day of feeling drained due to a late night, or an unusually physically exhausting day is one thing, but a general and persistent sense of fatigue is another story entirely. Fatigue can point to the iron deficiency anemia, and also can indicate heart disease, depression, or thyroid disease.

Your fingernails look funny. You may not pay much attention to how your fingernails look on a daily basis, but anything unusual about them could point to a health issue. An iron deficiency, heart disease, or thyroid issues can cause nails to curve upward, like a spoon. Horizontal ridges can indicate a vitamin deficiency.

Your body is amazing in its ability to give you important clues if anything goes wrong, inside or out. Paying attention to these clues and bringing them to the attention of your doctor can definitely save you the trouble of dealing with bigger issues down the road.

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