Body Signs, Nutrition

The Body Signs Series #5 – Dark Circles 

We often think that dark circles are due to lack of sleep, but that is not the only cause. 

They could be due to genetically inherited thin, pale skin under the eyes which makes dark circles a lot more prominent.

Dark circles could also point towards hormone fluctuations (our skin becomes paler during menstruation and pregnancy), dehydration or immune conditions such as eczema and allergies (both food and seasonal).

In fact, dark circles are also known as allergic shiners because allergies can cause blood vessels to become congested and blood to pool under the eyes. Dairy intolerance, in particular, has been associated with dark circles under the eyes, along with other common allergens such as nuts, shellfish, soy, yeast, pollen, mold and dust mites.

And of course, dark circles could also be signs of the following #nutrient needs:

👉Iron deficiency can lead to pale skin and makes the area around the eyes look darker. It can also affect sleep quality, which in turn can exacerbate dark circles

✅Other signs of insufficient iron levels include fatigue, rapid heart rate, palpitations, cold intolerance, impaired immune function, spoon-shaped nails, cracks on the corners of the mouth, sore tongue and feeling out of breath with minimal physical exertion.

👉Vitamin B12, just like iron above, can lead to paleness and is also needed for red blood cell formation and, along with other B vitamins, energy production.

✅Other signs of B12 deficiency include tingling in hands & feet, memory challenges, mood changes, sore tongue, constipation, fatigue, muscle weakness, appetite loss and more.

👉Vitamin K is needed for healthy blood circulation and can strengthen veins & capillaries (and weak capillaries can result in blood pooling in the delicate area under the eyes).

✅Other signs of vitamin K deficiency include easy bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, heavy menstrual bleeding and more.

✳️ The above are only some of the functions & deficiency signs of these nutrients. Our physiology is quite complex and many nutrients interact in multiple ways, so we should not view them in isolation.

✳️✳️ As always, it is recommended to check your #nutrient levels and speak with your healthcare provider before coming to conclusions and starting any supplementation.

Your body is talking, are you listening?

References

  1. Liebmann-Smith, J., Nardi Egan, J. Body Signs. New York, NY: Bantam Dell; 2008.
  2. Higdon J. Iron. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/iron. Published 2001, updated 2016. Accessed May 8, 2022.
  3. Higdon J. Vitamin K. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-K. Published 2000, updated 2014. Accessed May 8, 2022.
  4. Matozzo M. Vitamin Deficiencies That Could Make Dark Circles So Much Worse. SheFinds. https://www.shefinds.com/collections/vitamin-deficiencies-making-dark-circles-worse/. Published 2022. Accessed May 8, 2022.
  5. Higdon J. Vitamin B12. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B12. Published 2000, updated 2014. Accessed May 8, 2022.
Nutrients, Nutrition

Chromium

Chromium… what do we know about it? I recently did a functional nutrient test and my chromium levels were pretty low. I knew chromium is vital for blood glucose regulation (I make sure my grandma supplements with this for her diabetes and we’ve seen improvements), but I thought I’ll refresh my mind about this essential mineral.

First discovered in 1797, chromium is mainly known for its role in enhancing sensitivity to insulin and thus lowering blood glucose levels. It does have a few other functions related to its blood sugar balancing benefits, such as:

  • Carbohydrate & fat metabolism
  • Nutrient absorption 
  • Cholesterol synthesis
  • May lower blood pressure
  • May improve blood lipids
  • May enhance cognitive function
  • It could even improve mood

Chromium deficiency is rare, since it is found in many whole foods, especially in:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Turkey
  3. Beef
  4. Shellfish
  5. Liver
  6. Brazil nuts
  7. Brewer’s yeast
  8. String/Green beans
  9. Apples (with peel)
  10. Grapes

It may even be found in some beer & red wine products (chromium is present in grapes after all)!

Signs of insufficient levels include:

  • Elevated blood sugar & lipids
  • Elevated insulin levels
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Impaired coordination
  • Low energy
  • Anxiety (due to blood sugar imbalances)

Vitamin B3 and C can enhance chromium absorption. Iron & chromium compete for the same transport proteins in the body, although chromium supplementation does not seem to affect iron levels.

Always aim to get your nutrients from whole foods first. And test – don’t guess!

References

  1. Linus Pauling Institute – Chromium
  2. Harvard School of Public Health – Chromium
  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Chromium
  4. Chromium: The Deficiency Series
  5. Fight Weight Gain, Alzheimer’s, and Diabetes With Chromium
Body Signs, Nutrition

The Body Signs Series #4 – Brittle Nails

Do you often find your nails weak, thin, easy to break off or peel? Do they have ridges or lines? All of these could be signs of the following nutrient needs:

👉Dietary protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) necessary for keratin synthesis – a type of protein that makes up our nails, hair and skin.

✅Other signs of insufficient protein intake include slow wound healing, fine & brittle hair, decreased muscle strength, impaired immune function, fluid retention in feet & ankles, anxiety, poor concentration, joint pain, cravings and more.

✅Low intake of protein may not be the only reason for poor protein status – insufficient stomach acid and digestive enzymes can reduce the amount of protein our bodies absorb from our diet.

👉Iron, copper, zinc, and calcium which are all needed for healthy nails. Just like with protein, in order to absorb them we need sufficient stomach acid.

✅Other signs of mineral deficiencies include pale skin, tongue and gums, cracks in corners of mouth, kinky hair, weak bones, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, acne, poor vision, geographic tongue, loss of taste, diarrhea and more.

👉Essential fatty acids, which are needed for healthy cell membranes and may reduce nail brittleness.

✅Other signs of deficiency include acne, reduced visual acuity, dandruff, parasthesia and neuropathy, impaired memory, increased thirst, eczema, dermatitis, poor mental health and more.

The above are only some of the functions & deficiency signs of these nutrients, our physiology is quite complex and many nutrients interact in multiple ways, so we should not view them in isolation.

As always, it is recommended to check your nutrient levels and speak with your healthcare provider before coming to conclusions and starting any supplementation.

Your body is talking, are you listening?

Body Signs, Nutrition

The Body Signs Series #3 – Dry Skin

Dry skin. Seems like a common problem which we often try to solve with lotions and potions… but sometimes hydrating your skin is not enough. For healthy, glowing skin you also need sufficient amounts of these nutrients:

👉Vitamin A, which plays a key role in skin cell proliferation & differentiation, photo protection (from UV light), and overall skin health.

  • It is also an important epigenetic regulator that influences the expression of hundreds of genes. 
  • Other signs of deficiency include acne, eyesight problems, gingivitis, bone & joint pain, skin hyperpigmentation, poor wound healing, psoriasis and more.
  • Zinc deficiency can impair vitamin A metabolism & function

👉Biotin, which plays a key role in the production of fatty acids that nourish the skin, as well as energy metabolism and cell membrane integrity.

  • It is also another potent regulator of genetic expression.
  • Other signs of deficiency include sore & reddened tongue, hair thinning and brittleness, slow cognition, seborrheic-like dermatitis and more.

👉Zinc, which can reduce skin inflammation and is needed for collagen production and wound healing.

  • And (no surprise here) this mineral also plays a role in regulating gene expression.
  • Other signs of deficiency include acne, poor vision, cracks in corners of mouth, geographic tongue, impaired wound healing, hair thinning and brittleness, loss of taste, weak nails, diarrhea and more.
  • Note: zinc, copper, iron & calcium all interact in each other’s absorption and metabolism.

👉Essential fatty acids, which are needed for healthy cell membranes, skin barrier integrity, protection from UV light, wound healing and reduction in skin sensitivity.

  • Remember, we have trillions of cells with fatty membranes and our brain is made up of nearly 60% fat, which makes healthy dietary fats an important component of our body’s physical structure.
  • Other signs of deficiency include acne, reduced visual acuity, dry hair, dandruff, weak nails, parasthesia and neuropathy, impaired memory, increased thirst, eczema, dermatitis, poor mental health and more.

✳️ The above are only some of the functions & deficiency signs of these nutrients, our physiology is quite complex and many nutrients interact in multiple ways, so we should not view them in isolation.

✳️✳️ As always, it is recommended to check your nutrient levels and speak with your healthcare provider before coming to conclusions and starting any supplementation.

Your body is talking, are you listening? 👀

References

  1. Lord R, Bralley J. Laboratory Evaluations For Integrative And Functional Medicine. Duluth, Ga: Genova Diagnostics; 2012.
  2. Angelo G. Vitamin A and Skin Health. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-A. Published 2012. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  3. Higdon J. Biotin. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/biotin. Published 2000, updated 2015. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  4. Higdon J. Zinc. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/zinc. Published 2001, updated 2019. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  5. Angelo G. Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids. Published 2012. Accessed February 15, 2022.