nutrient deficiency

Do your beauty symptoms signify a nutrient deficiency?

Have you ever thought your cracked lips, brittle hair or the white spots on your nails were messages from your miraculous body notifying you of a nutrient deficiency?

Micronutrients is the term given to vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients are essential for human life as they enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances fundamental to proper growth and development. Many micronutrients cannot be synthesised by the body and therefore must be obtained through the food you eat.

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency and is a well-known cause of hair loss.

A deficiency in micronutrients can present with an array of symptoms, some of which you can see when looking in the mirror. Are you showing signs or symptoms of a nutrient deficiency? Let’s take a look.


Possible deficiency in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and zinc

Research has shown that people who suffer from acne have lower blood levels of zinc, vitamin A and vitamin E compared to those who do not experience acne

Increasing dietary intake of zinc-rich foods and applying topical forms of zinc is an effective treatment for acne. This is due to zinc’s powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and oil-reducing effect on the skin.

Vitamin A may play a role in reducing bacteria that causes acne on the skin. Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with the development of acne. Vitamin D is a powerful antioxidant that regulates the amount of oil the sebaceous glands in the skin secretion.

Eczema and dermatitis

Possible deficiency in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, zinc and iron

Atopic eczema is associated with abnormal metabolism of essential fatty acid. Essential fatty acids play a role in reducing inflammation in the body, encouraging wound healing and supporting the integrity and structure of the skin.

Brittle hair

Possible deficiency in iron and protein

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional deficiency and is a well-known cause of hair loss. The relationship between low iron and hair loss is not completely understood; however it is believed to be associated with the role iron plays in DNA synthesis. Reversal of iron deficiency has been shown to improve hair growth and strength.

Severe protein malnutrition can lead to the conditions kwashiorkor and marasmus, which result in hair thinning and loss.

Ulcerated and cracked corners of mouth

Possible deficiency in B vitamins and iron

Painful, cracked, ulcerated and bleeding corners of the mouth describe the inflammatory condition known as angular cheilitis. If you experience these symptoms, it’s a good idea to check your iron stores and consider a B vitamin as these nutrient deficiencies are associated with the development of angular cheilitis.

Bleeding gums

Possible deficiency in vitamin C

No doubt you’ve heard of scurvy, the clinical syndrome that results from a deficiency in vitamin C causing bleeding gums and other severe symptoms. Without adequate vitamin C the tissue of the gums becomes weak and inflamed and the blood vessels bleed easily.

White spots, brittle and spoon-shaped nails

Possible deficiency in iron, zinc or calcium

Spoon-shaped, brittle nails with vertical ridges are a sign of iron deficiency anaemia, while white spots (known as leuconychia) may be a sign of a calcium and/or zinc deficiency.

Use your food as medicine

The food you eat can either help or hinder your health; enjoy a variety of nutrient-dense, colourful wholefoods that will ensure you feel, function and look your most vibrant self.

Vitamin A

RDA: Adult female 800μg, adult male 1000μg, lactation 1200–1300μg, infant 375μg

Found in apricots, barley grass, butter, carrots, egg yolk, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes.

B vitamins

RDA: The RDA varies for each of the eight B vitamins

Found in whole grains, meat, legumes, seeds, dark leafy greens.

Vitamin C

RDA: 75–125mg

Found in Australian Kakadu plum, blackcurrants, broccoli, citrus fruit, pawpaw, pineapple, strawberries, tomatoes.

Vitamin E

RDA: 15mg

Found in nuts, seeds, sunflower and safflower oil.

Essential fatty acids

RDA: DHA and EPA is 1–3mg per day

Found in cod, tuna, salmon, walnuts, seaweed, linseed oil.


RDA: 800–1400mg

Found in almonds, sardines, sunflower seeds, buckwheat, soybeans, dairy products, egg yolk.


RDA: 10–20mg

Found in beans, liver, red meat, poultry, almonds, green leafy vegetables, spirulina, apricots and dates.


RDA: 15mg

Found in beef, oysters, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, liver, egg yolks, seafood, capsicum.


RDA: 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight

Found in quinoa, beans, legumes, meat, chicken, fish, eggs.

Ema Taylor

Ema Taylor

Ema Taylor is a naturopath, clinical nutritionist and certified fertility awareness educator. For more, visit or @emataylornaturopathy on Instagram.

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