Nutritional Deficiencies and Your Skin

Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ? As such, your skin, hair and cuticles, which are keratin-based, are going to be a reflection of your overall health.  If you are deficient in anything, it’s going to affect you silently on the inside, but many times it will affect you on the outside as well.


Today I’m going to cover a few common deficiencies and how they may appear on your skin, hair or nails. By noticing these signs, you can often avert a more serious illness if you address the problem immediately.


Signs of Deficiencies

  • For example, did you know that when you have inadequate stomach acid, likely from taking long-term antacids, your fingernails can develop ridges in them?
  • Hair loss can be due to inadequate folic acid, B vitamins and essential fatty acid intake. It can also be due to vitamin A toxicity. (Yes, you can actually take too much of a mineral too, especially if it is a fat soluble vitamin such as vitamin A.)
  • Chronic dandruff is a pesky problem, caused by too many skin cells from your scalp drying and flaking off.  Consider increasing your essential fatty acid intake or use selenium supplements.
  • Acne is a problem mostly for young people, but it can also be due to deficiencies in zinc, EFAs, and eating too many trans fats.
  • A sore tongue means you could be deficient in B12, folate, zinc, or iron. B12 supplementation requires a visit to your doctor. Folate, zinc, and iron can be improved through diet and nutritional supplements.
  • Let’s take a look at your fingernails. How do those cuticles look? If they’re inflamed, you could be suffering from a zinc deficiency. Start chewing on those pumpkin seeds. If your nails are spooning you may be deficient in iron; up your intake of red meat, or cook in cast iron cookware, especially with tomato products. People who regularly cook with cast iron are rarely deficient in iron. Hangnails are a normal problem, but if you have a more compelling issue, increase your zinc intake.
  • Dry skin can either mean you’re chronically dehydrated, or it means that you need to increase your essential fatty acid intake, vitamin A, and vitamin E intake. Potassium and vitamin D need to be added too.
  • Small red bumps on the back of your arms can be due to vitamin A and E deficiencies, zinc, and essential fatty acids.
  • Most Important if you should suspect and new or abnormal clinical findings. Please consult with your Physician first.

Food Sources of Nutritional Supplements

While it is possible to just pop some vitamin and mineral supplements, it is usually far better to include foods that will provide what your body needs.  Usually food form gives your body the best chance of being able to incorporate what it needs.


EFA – Essential Fatty Acids cannot be synthesized by the human body. They must be included in your diet in the form of flaxseed, canola oil, and cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna.


Vitamin A – Liver, eggs, milk, orange fruits, and green vegetables


Vitamin B – Wheat-germ, brewer’s yeast, potatoes, bananas, lentils, and chilis


Vitamin C – Broccoli, pomegranates, blueberries, acai, kale, bell peppers, strawberries


Vitamin D – Fortified milk and sunshine


Vitamin E – Wheat germ oil, toasted almonds, and safflower oil


Zinc – Pumpkin seeds, red meat (beef, pork, and lamb)


Iron – Red meat, cooking in cast iron cookware


Selenium – Brazil nuts, garlic, and fish

Added to Nutrition, Skin Care on Tue 02/23/2010