As a certified nutritionist, I piece together clues our body gives us to help my clients uncover nutrition deficiencies that lead to a wide range of health issues. Here’s the most common evidence I find in my work as a nutrition detective:
Clue: Dry skin and/or dry scalp
When we notice dry skin, most of us immediately think about hydration. But healthy skin also requires a considerable amount of essential high quality fats. Dry skin or a flaky scalp sound the alarm that you should eat more nuts, seeds, and high-quality olive, sesame or fish oils. And while you're at it, check if you have bumpy "chicken like" skin on the back of your upper arms. It’s another sign the body needs more essential fats, particularly omega-3 s.
Clue: Varicose veins
Strange as it may seem, a varicose vein is what you might consider to be a "constipated vein." In other words, there’s blood stagnation in that vein. While medical treatments can remove stagnation, increasing your fiber intake to 30 or more grams a day will help you avoid varicose veins.
Clue: Nocturnal leg cramps
Leg cramps that develop during the night or early morning most often signal mineral inadequacy — and calcium is the mineral I think of first. I always suggest that adults consume a total of 1,200 mg calcium from diet and supplements combined. If your calcium intake is lower, try raising your intake to this level setting aside 200-300 mg of calcium supplements to be taken at bedtime.
If getting enough calcium doesn't do the trick, try adding 200-300 mgs of additional magnesium. If the problem still persists, consider taking 200-300 mgs supplemental potassium at bedtime. Once again hydration is important, but I’ve known many athletes who develop serious nocturnal leg cramping even when well hydrated. They were able to resolve their tendency to cramp with calcium and/or magnesium supplementation.
Clue: Black and blue easily
Vitamin C inadequacy can result in common symptoms such as bleeding gums when you brush or floss and the tendency to bruise easily (as when you a develop a black and blue spot and don’t recall hitting or injuring the tissue.)
If you’re curious about my complete Nutrition Detective Questionnaire, visit my Consultations page, go to Intake Forms and click on the Nutrition Detective Questionnaire link. You may be surprised at the mysteries you solve!
You can try Dr. Brown’s comprehensive supplements in her at-home bone health program, developed with Women's Health Network. Get her exclusive formulations along with her detailed lifestyle and diet guidance, plus telephone support whenever you need it. Learn more about the Better Bones programs.
We created the Better Bones blog as our forum to express opinions and educate the public about natural means of supporting and improving bone health and overall wellness. As part of this forum, we sometimes discuss medical issues and medications, and their effects on bone health in general. However, we cannot advise readers about specific medical issues in this forum. If you wish to obtain advice from Susan E. Brown, PhD, about your specific bone health and nutritional concerns, please visit our Consultations page. Other specific medical questions should be referred to your healthcare provider.