If you imagine your body to be a castle, your immune system serves as the guards, which fight off dangerous foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses and parasites. However, in order for this system to work properly, you need to maintain a proper level of nutrition to keep those guards strong. With the right balance of nutrients, your body can fight off whatever is being passed around between you, the kids, and your coworkers.
If you find that you are frequently sick, you may not be getting the vitamins and nutrients you need. Consider taking four self-tests that can indicate if you’re missing out on any vital nutrients, all of which is available in a balanced diet or in a daily multivitamin.
Test One: Sternum Thumb Test
This will indicate if you are getting enough vitamin D. This vitamin is crucial when it comes to activating your immune system. It helps to keep the “guards” of your immune system alert. Vitamin D is also important for bone and muscle health.
All you need for this test is your thumb. Take your thumb and press it against your breastbone, which is your sternum. You can also press on your shinbone as an alternative.
If it feels tender or if it hurts when you press down, you may have a vitamin D deficiency. Though there are many dietary sources of vitamin D, it has been estimated that 90% or more of our required vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. Read our daily dose on Vitamin D to learn more about how you can replenish your stores.
Test Two: Balance Test
This will indicate if you are getting enough vitamin B12. Having low levels will not only compromise your immunity but also lower your energy levels, potentially making you feel depressed. Low levels of B12 also alter your ability to think clearly.
Stand up. Put your feet together with your hands on your sides. Then, close your eyes and stick out one of your legs in front of you, and try to hold it for three seconds. You may want to do this near a wall or near a loved one for support if you need it.
If you start to lose your balance, it could mean you’re low on vitamin B12, though there are many reasons for this.You can find ample sources of vitamin B12 in clams, liver, fish, yogurt and cheese. Vegetarians may want to consider taking a daily vitamin B supplement or multivitamin. Read more about the importance of vitamin B12.
Test Three: Mouth Sore Test
This will indicate if you are getting enough vitamin B6. This important nutrient also strengthens your immune system. Not having enough B6 can cause confusion, depression, irritability and mouth/tongue sores. Low levels of vitamin B6 have been linked to chronic inflammation in the body.
At home, check your mouth in a mirror. Start with the outside of your mouth and look around its edges for signs of cracking. Then, open your mouth wide and look for any sores. Don’t forget to look under your tongue. You may need to the help of a flashlight.
If you notice any sores, it could mean that you aren’t getting enough vitamin B6. There are ample sources of vitamin B6 in chicken, fish, kidney, liver, as well as whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
Test Four: Skin Test
This will indicate if you are getting enough vitamin A. This important vitamin helps your body form and maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones. It also helps your immune system stop and kill germs as soon as they come in contact with your body.
This test will require you to do a full-body examination. Look for dry spots around your body. You should especially check for dry, rough and cracked skin, brittle hair, and peeling or splitting nails.
If you find any of those, you may have a deficiency in vitamin A. You can find ample sources of vitamin A in dark green and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits, such as broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins.