Common Signs of Nutrient Deficiency

While eating a well-balanced, whole foods diet is essential for disease prevention and the maintenance of health, is it enough if you are deficient in key vitamins and minerals? What are the signs and symptoms of deficiencies you can observe in your body?

The remainder of this article provides a listing of some of the signs that may suggest a deficiency in certain nutrients. Remember, these are signs which can vary between people. Each sign can often mean multiple things that aren’t necessarily related to a deficiency. This should not replace proper medical examination and laboratory testing.


Thin, dry hair: Low thyroid function or essential fatty acid deficiency
Hair loss: Zinc deficiency
Dandruff: Zinc and essential fatty acid deficiency
Noise sensitivity: Magnesium deficiency
Excess earwax: Fat deficiency


Dry, cracked lips: B-vitamin deficiency
Tingling lips: Calcium or vitamin D deficiency (also consider a herpes infection)
Pale under eyelids: Anemia
Blood vessels visible around nose and cheeks: Gastric (hydrochloric) acid deficiency
Goiter/swollen thyroid: Iodine deficiency (now very uncommon in North America)
Loss of smell: Zinc deficiency
Light sensitivity: B2 deficiency
Eye twitches: Calcium and/or magnesium deficiency


Bright purple/red tongue: Vitamin B2, B3 or B12 deficiency
Loss of taste: Zinc deficiency
Spongy gums and loose teeth: Vitamin C deficiency
Hoarse voice: Iron deficiency (also consider low thyroid function)


Easy bruising: Iron, vitamin K or vitamin C deficiency
Tingling in hands (carpal tunnel): B6 deficiency
White specks in nails: Zinc deficiency
Ridges in nails (longitudinal): Gastric (hydrochloric) acid deficiency
Brittle nails: Zinc and sulfur deficiency
Frequent muscle cramps: Magnesium, calcium and/or potassium deficiency
Red palms: B-vitamin deficiency
Pale skin: Iron deficiency anemia

Do any of these sound familiar? Are you getting enough of these nutrients? And if there are any other nutrients you’ve been wondering about, let us know in the comments below! Update: For more information please visit Part 2 of this series.

While the information published on this site is believed to be accurate, it has been published solely for the purpose of provide general information and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical health, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

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