When your body is trying to tell you something— for example, that you're skimping on critical vitamins— it may go to some strange lengths. "With today's diet of processed foods, it's easy to become vitamin deficient, either by not eating enough of the right foods or not absorbing them properly due to digestive issues," says Dr. Susan Blum, founder of the Blum Center for Health and the author of the new book The Immune System Recovery Plan. "You may not get a disease, but you can end up with impaired functioning because vitamins are cofactors for all the biochemical reactions in the body. We need them in order to function properly." That impaired functioning can sometimes manifest in mysterious ways.
Here are five unusual warning signs that you may be vitamin deficient. The good news: Most are fixable with dietary tweaks—all the more reason to make nutrition a top priority. But if food cures don't work, be sure to check in with your doctor.
Body Cue No. 1: Cracks at the corners of your mouth.
The Deficiency: Iron, zinc, and B vitamins like niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), and B12. "It's common if you're a vegetarian to not get enough iron, zinc, and B12," Blum says. Ditto if you're skimping on essential immunity-building protein due to dieting.
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