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The Danger Signs and Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiencies

written by: MandaSpring • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 9/19/2010

Learn about health problems that can arise from nutrient deficiencies and know what some of the common signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies are.

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    No diet is perfect. It’s easy for regular meals to be skipped or calories to become more important than nutrition. Fresh produce isn’t always easy to find, especially in the winter. The better cuts of meat can also be expensive. Some people have particular likes or dislikes when it comes to food, inspiring them to eat too much or too little in spite of the health consequences.

    The first signs of nutrient deficiencies are usually illness. Feeling tired and sluggish or brittle fingernails are pretty clear symptoms that something is wrong. Dry skin, pallor, weight loss and dry skin are clear signs of dietary problems. Poor nutrition can also cause eye trouble.

    At the first signs or symptoms of nutrient deficiencies, a person should be more aware of their diet and take steps to counteract the illness. Vitamin supplements are handy, but nothing can replace eating the right foods in the right amounts.

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    What Specific Nutrient Deficiencies Cause Which Disorders?

    The specific illnesses that can be caused by nutrient deficiencies are:

    Weight loss, pallor, brittle fingernails and hair are usually caused by the lack of protein, zinc, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-2 and iron. These problems can be cleared up by eating red meats, green vegetables and other foods that are high in the nutrients that are lacking.

    But that is not all. Water retention (edema), bruising, flaking skin, and splotches on the skin are signs that the diet is low in zinc, niacin, fatty acids, protein, vitamins A, C, and K, and at least some of the B vitamins. These lacking nutrients can best be replaced by diet. If supplements are necessary, there are many brands to choose from. Red meat, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, legumes and fresh fruits (such as cherries) are the best additions to a healthy diet when these symptoms appear. Red eyes, night blindness and general eye irritation can be caused by a lack of vitamin A, vitamin B-2 and iron.

    Vitamins A, C, B-2, B-12 and C can contribute to weak bones and so can the lack of phosphorous, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, protein, niacin and potassium. All these nutrients can be found in a healthy diet or in supplements.

    It is important to eat the right foods for good health. It is important to be aware of symptoms of nutrient deficiencies because most nutrition deficiencies, if neglected, can worsen with time and cause permanent damage and health problems.

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