scurvy

Is Your Body Trying to ask for Vitamins and Minerals?

April 8th, 2019

It's been ingrained in us that a healthy and well-balanced diet is necessary for normal daily functioning and growth. However, it may not be that simple to realize when we're deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, even when we're eating healthy! Vitamins and minerals play a major role in carrying out the normal functions of our bodies, including synthesizing  tissues, removing waste products, and being necessary precursors for enzymes. Therefore, deficiencies can result in several health problems, so it is important to know what signs to look for in order to meet the body's needs! For instance, oral signs such as burning tongue and mouth sores, feeling tired after a good night's rest, having a pale appearance, or brittle fingernails can all be signs of particular nutrient deficiencies. In fact, it has been reported that when the proper nutrients are not consumed in adequate amounts, both physical and mental issues such as skin problems, bone abnormalities, and even dementia could be negative consequences.

Take a look at the signs of various vitamin deficiencies and how to make these symptoms improve or be gone altogether:

Severe hair loss

If you notice that you are losing more than the typical 100 strands of hair a day, this could be a sign of a deficiency in the minerals iron and zinc, in addition to the fatty acids linoleum acid and alpha-linolenic acid, and vitamins such as biotin (Vitamin B7) and Niacin (Vitamin B3):

  • Iron is necessary for the production of DNA, which is present in hair follicles.
  • Zinc is needed for the synthesis of proteins necessary for hair growth.
    • A deficiency in both iron and zinc can lead to hair loss or cause the hair to stop growing. A diet rich in meat, fish, eggs, legumes, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds and whole grains can help manage a deficiency in iron and zinc.
  • Linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are integral to hair growth.
    • A diet comprising leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and vegetable oils all offer a source of LA. ALA can be found in chia seeds and soy nuts.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3): Niacin is needed for keeping healthy strong hair.
  • Biotin (vitamin B7): Biotin helps form thick hair and stimulates hair growth.
    • Meat, fish, dairy, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and leafy greens are rich in both niacin and biotin.

You may notice that there are also a lot of supplements advertised for hair loss prevention that include these nutrients. These supplements should be taken at the discretion of your health care provider, as there is limited research on their effects.

Brittle nails

A sign of brittle or splitting nails could be your body telling you that it is in need of iron or biotin.

  • Iron: In addition to brittle nails, a deficiency in iron can include fatigue, pale skin, chest pain, constant sensation of cold, inflamed or sore tongue, and dizziness just to name a few.
    • Iron-rich foods include in meat, poultry, seafood, and spinach.
  • Biotin: biotin deficiencies are rare, but can present as brittle hair or nails, in addition to fatigue, and muscle pain. Risk factors of a biotin deficiency include pregnancy, smoking, alcoholism, Crohn's disease, and individuals on some anti-seizure medications or prolonged antibiotic use. Consumption of raw egg whites can also lead to a deficiency in biotin because  the protein avidin within raw egg whites reduces the absorption of biotin.
    •  Egg yolks, organ meats, fish, meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, yeast, whole grains and bananas are good sources of biotin.

Mouth ulcers or cracks in the corners of the mouth

Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores, and cracking around the corners of the mouth have been linked to deficiencies including iron, B1, B2, B6 and B12.

  • Iron
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1) plays a role in maintining the nervous system and the release of energy from food.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) helps keep the skin, eyes and nervous system healthy, and helps the body release energy from food.
  • Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) is responsible for the storage of protein and carbohydrates absorbed from food, and the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells. A deficiency in B6 is typically rare.
    • Thiamin, riboflavin and pyridoxine can all be found in whole grains, poultry, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, organ meats, legumes, green vegetables, starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

In addition, cracking at the corners of the mouth could be caused by angular cheilitis (inflammation and an accumulation of microorganisms, particularly Candida albicans, at the corners of the mouth).

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums could be a result of several things, including gingivitis due to bacterial plaque, medications, brushing technique, and poor diet or oral hygiene habits. In addition, it could be due to a lack of vitamin C in your diet.

  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C plays a role in healing wounds, your immunity, and also helps prevent cell damage. If the deficiency is severe, the condition known as scurvy could develop. Symptoms of scurvy include tooth loss, weakness, fatigue, and muscle soreness.
    • Citrus fruit, guava, kiwi, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale), berries, tomatoes, cabbage, and brussel sprouts all are sources of Vitamin C.

Burning tongue

The sensation of a burning tongue or feet could be a result of a deficiency in Vitamin B12.

  • Vitamin B12: B12 is known to help produce hemoglobin in red blood cells, and is also needed for the proper function of the digestive system. Vegans are at an increased risk of B12 deficiency because meats and dairy products are common sources of good amounts of B12. Signs of a deficiency in vitamin B12 often include damage to your nervous system, memory changes, and can sometimes mimic anemia.
    • Vitamin B12 an be found in meats, shellfish, poultry, fish, dairy, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and fortified soy and coconut milk.

Muscle cramps

If you notice that you begin having muscle cramps, your body could be craving potassium. A deficiency in potassium is typically caused by loss of fluid (excessive sweat, vomit, diarrhea).

  • Potassium: Potassium is known to help build muscle and protein.
    • A good source of potassium can be found in sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, and coconut water.

 

So, you may be wondering, "will dietary supplements help get me all of the nutrients I need?" The best way to ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is to make sure your diet includes each major food group, rather than relying only on dietary supplements. Some individuals may be lacking certain vitamins or minerals due to an underlying medical condition. Be sure to have your regular check-ups with your primary care physician so that the proper diagnoses and treatment can be made.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. DerekDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Stephens would be more than willing to help.

References:

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1101051/vitamin-deficiency-symptoms-B12-D-signs-tiredness-hair-loss-mouth-ulcers

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-deficiency#section1

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/08/22/the-common-signs-of-vitamin-and-mineral-deficiencies_a_21456849/

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