Signs of vitamin deficiencies show up firstly in the skin, hair and nails. The reason this occurs is due to the fact that in times of stress or low intake the body preferentially provides nutrition to the critical organs such as the heart, lungs and brain rather than the skin. So irritating skin issues such as cracks in the corners of the mouth or peri oral dermatitis may actually be signalling a nutrient deficiency rather than a disease state or skin condition.
Underlying causes for nutrient deficiencies are many and various but often come back to reduced intake or excess demand. Inadequate intake of water-soluble vitamins such as the B group and vitamin C is more common due to the fact that our body doesn’t store these vitamins. Any excess passes out on a daily basis. It makes sense then that an inadequate intake of B group and vitamin C rich foods could eventually lead to signs of deficiency. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E, D and K are slower to show up as deficiency sigs as our body stores these nutrients in some cases for long fairly long periods. However, lack of dietary intake (or sunshine) will eventually use up stored resources and again eventually lead to lower levels.
The other factor that may lead to skin signs of deficiency is placing excess demands on our vitamin resources. Stress, environmental toxins, dietary excesses and ill health will all use vitamins up, sometimes faster than we are taking them in. Again the net result is lower levels.
A good dietary intake of both water and fat-soluble vitamins will help to maintain healthy and vibrant skin. For specific skin signs, the nutrient association and the food sources see the table below.
|Nutrient||Possible Skin Sign||Food Sources|
|Vitamin A||Rough, dry and scaly skin – particularly on the back of arms, thighs and buttocks. The carotenoid form of vitamin A will also help to improve skin colour i.e. give you a healthy glow.||Liver, cod liver oil, yellow, orange and red vegetables (plant source is carotenoids)|
|Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)||Bleeding gums, rough skin and easy bruising, poor wound healing, pinpoint broken capillaries particularly where extensive sun exposure has occurred e.g. face, neck and chest||Kiwi fruit, green capsicum, citrus fruits, paw paw, strawberries, berries, broccoli, sprouts|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||Inflamed eyelids, cracks and redness at the corner of the mouth (caution, this may also related to low iron so get your iron levels checked if B group supplementation doesn’t improve within 2 weeks), facial skin lesions with greasy scales, peri-oral dermatitis||Almonds, salmon, spinach, milk & milk products, eggs, oats, whole grains|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||Excessive sebum production particularly associated with acne||Avocado, mushrooms, lentils, milk & milk products, eggs, almonds|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||Scaly dermatitis, peri-oral dermatitis, cracks and redness in the corners of the mouth.||Bananas, tuna, avocado, spinach, mackerel, brown rice, Brussels Sprouts|
|Folates (B9)||Peri-oral dermatitis, cracks and redness in the corners of the mouth.||Lentils, spinach, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, paw paw, yellow corn|
|Vitamin D||Worsening of inflammatory skin conditions due to imbalanced immune function e.g. eczema and dermatitis||Cod liver oil, salmon, oysters, whole milk, egg yolk|
It is important to note that because fat soluble vitamins build up in the body, it is advisable to speak to a health care professional such as your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist before taking supplemental forms.
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