Thursday, May 7, 2015

How to Detect Common Nutrient Deficiencies + An Eggplant Dip Fit for a Party

Persistent Symptoms? You May Need More Nutrients
If you've been plagued by dry, itchy skin, muscles that continually cramp, or even stretch marks that won't fade, it may be time to take a look at your diet. Topical creams and healing tonics can only do so much for our ailing bodies, especially when the problems originate on the inside.

Below are 12 different indicators that you may need to up your intake of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for optimal health. See if any of these small changes could help you heal your symptoms!

12 Signs You're Lacking Key Nutrients

1. Hair Loss or Brittle Strands - B vitamin, especially Biotin (B7), deficiency
Biotin plays an essential role in strengthening your hair follicles and supporting thick, healthy hair growth.

2. Stretch Marks – Zinc deficiency
In order for the skin to stretch and heal properly, it requires adequate levels of zinc. It is estimated that over 80% of pregnant women don’t consume enough zinc to fulfill this requirement.

3. Bumpy Skin – Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A & Vitamin D deficiencies

This can be a sign of deficiency in essential fatty acids like omega-3s, especially when the bumps are located on the upper arms. Omega-3s are responsible for the health of skin cell membranes, while vitamin A fights off damage-causing free radicals and vitamin D supports the processes of skin cell proliferation and differentiation.

4. Dry or Acne-prone Skin – Vitamin C, B Vitamins & Omega-3 fatty acids deficiencies
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system to fight nasty microbes and boosts healthy collagen production in the skin. It also stimulates the growth of ligaments and tissues, which help heal blemishes left behind by acne. Meanwhile, B vitamins have been shown to improve moisture retention in the skin and omega-3s help protect the outer barrier of skin cells.

5. Greasy Skin – Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A is thought to neutralize oil levels in the skin by inhibiting androgens, which play a central role in oil production.

6. Sun Damage, Wrinkles – Vitamin E, Vitamin C & Selenium deficiencies
Did you know that sun exposure can reduce vitamin C levels by about 30%, while air pollution can reduce levels by a whopping 55%? Those are some vicious daily assaults on your skin! Vitamins E and C and the mineral selenium protect skin and cellular membranes and also help prevent damage to enzymes in the body.

7. Soft or Brittle Nails – Magnesium & Vitamin K2 deficiencies
Vitamin K2 plays an essential role in bone mineralization and shortening the lifespan of osteoclasts, cells that break down bone. Magnesium is also involved in making sure calcium is absorbed and transported to the places your body needs it most, including your nails.

8. White Spots or Ridges on Nails – Mineral, possibly Zinc, deficiency
While leading nutritionists are divided on whether or not zinc is to blame for these unsightly markings, you can experiment with adding more essential minerals to your diet to see if any one, or a combination of a few, helps reduce the appearance of white spots and ridges.

9. Tingling or Numbness in Extremities – Potassium & B Vitamin deficiencies

Potassium plays an important role in facilitating the transmission of nerve impulses throughout the body. In order for the brain to receive signals, potassium must be present to flow out of the nerve cells so as to not interrupt communications.

These sensations can also be a sign of B-vitamin deficiency (particularly folate, B6, and B12) because of these vitamins' effects on peripheral nerves.

10. Muscle Cramps - Magnesium, Calcium & Potassium deficiencies

Muscle cramps may be a sign that you're deficient in magnesium, calcium, sodium or potassium, all of which contribute to healthy muscle relaxation and contraction. Stress, intense physical workouts, and diuretics can all contribute to mineral loss and muscle cramping.

11. Swollen Joints – Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C contains potent antioxidants that help reduce swelling by fighting joint irritation at the source and by supporting production of healthy collagen, which helps cushion joints.

12. Poor Circulation, Cold Hands - Magnesium, Iron & B Vitamin deficiencies
Magnesium has been shown to help enhance circulation in people with chronically cold hands and feet. Iron supports the production of blood components that deliver oxygen to various parts of the body, while B vitamins are involved in red blood cell production.

Roasted Eggplant Dip - The Perfect Complement to Sliced Veggies
This healthy roasted eggplant dip, adapted from Food Network star Ina Garten's tasty traditional European recipe, is perfect for serving with sliced veggies or gluten-free crackers/pita bread at your next social gathering. Plus, it's simple, tasty, and oh-so-healthy.

•1 medium eggplant
•2 red bell peppers, seeded
•1 red onion, peeled
•2 garlic cloves, minced
•3 tablespoons olive oil
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
•1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1 tablespoon tomato paste

1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes.
3.Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, lemon, parsley, salt, and pepper until evenly coated.
4.Transfer the contents of the bowl to a baking sheet and spread evenly.
5.Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking.
6.Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the veggies to cool for about 10 minutes.
7.Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse until blended but not over-mixed. You want the texture to remain thick and chunky.
8.Serve with cut raw veggies, crackers, or pita chips!