Whether you eat what you want when you want or adhere to a strict diet, it’s important to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you — and chances are, it’s trying to say a lot. From dizziness and headaches to weakness and fatigue, there are dozens of symptoms that most people write off as “normal occurrences.” While they may be normal to you, the truth is that you shouldn’t experience any kind of discomfort on an everyday basis. By identifying and fixing nutritional gaps, you won’t have to. Below are the top symptoms of nutritional deficiency and how to fix them.
Vitamin D: Fatigue, Mood Swings and More
Bone pain, mood swings, muscle aches, weakness and fatigue are all common signs of a vitamin D deficiency. According to the National Institutes of health, adults should consume at least 15 micrograms of vitamin D daily. That amount increases with age, with the average older adult needing at least 20 mcg. Unfortunately, as much as 42% of the American adult population is vitamin D deficient, with some populations having even higher rates of deficiency.
If you experience symptoms of this nutrient gap, try upping your servings of fatty fish, milk, yogurt and other foods rich in vitamin D. You should also spend at least 10 to 30 minutes outside each day, as sunshine is a great source of this nutrient.
Potassium: Constipation, Muscle Weakness and Irregular Heartbeat
Irregular heartbeat, upset stomach, muscle cramps, tingling and numbness, and weakness are all worrisome symptoms. While you shouldn’t brush them off, know that the fix could be as simple as upping your potassium intake.
Potassium is crucial to healthy nerve, heart and muscle function. It also delivers nutrients to the nerves, removes waste from the body and counteracts the adverse effects of sodium. A potassium deficiency can occur for any number of reasons, including a bout of vomiting or diarrhea, antibiotics, excessive sweating, excessive alcohol consumption or chronic illness. In addition to managing any underlying conditions, you should attempt to incorporate potassium food sources into your diet. Those include bananas, acorn squash, milk, kidney beans, lentils and legumes.
Iron: Brittle Nails, Cold Hands and Feet, Shortness of Breath and Fatigue
When your body is low in iron, you may experience a deficiency in red blood cells, which help transport oxygen throughout the body. Low levels of oxygen can result in any number of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, swelling, fast heartbeat, brittle nails, cold hands and feet, headache, pale skin, shortness of breath and other worrisome symptoms. To restore your iron levels, try to eat more iron-rich foods. Foods naturally high in iron include lentils, spinach, beans and beef. Iron-fortified cereals and other foods can also help.
Magnesium: Nausea, Loss of Appetite and Fatigue
Magnesium is crucial to bone health and energy production. Without adequate amounts, you may experience nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, fatigue, tingling and numbness, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps and spasms and other uncomfortable and scary side effects. To help your body return to normal, consume magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, black beans, peanuts, almonds and cashews.
Vitamin B12: Memory Problems, Fatigue and Numbness
Vitamin B12 helps produce red blood cells and DNA and improves the function of neurotransmitters. If your body is deprived of it, it will start to experience troublesome symptoms, such as swollen tongue, numbness of the limbs, balance and walking problems, fatigue, weakness, anemia, and memory and concentration issues. To combat these symptoms, consume more chicken, fish and yogurt. If you’re a vegetarian, look for vitamin B12 fortified foods.
Your body knows what it needs better than you do. Listen to it when it starts to develop any type of irritating and chronic symptom, as it could be trying to alert you to a nutrient gap.