Freaky cravings, mysterious pain, bizarre marks—your body has some odd ways of begging you to eat healthier
Ever find yourself dealing with a mystery body symptom that comes out of nowhere? Before you Google yourself crazy wondering what's going on, consider this: it just might be your system’s way of hinting that you’re not getting enough of a specific vitamin or mineral—and that it’s time to crank up your intake, says New York City nutritionist Brittany Kohn, R.D. Here’s a rundown of five little-known signs that you’re shortchanging yourself on key nutrients, plus the best sources to score them from.
Your muscles cramp up often. If you’re increasingly hit with painful muscle tightness and spasms, and it happens even when you’re moving around a lot, it may be a sign that your level of magnesium—a mineral that helps regulate body functions—is circling the drain. Shore up your reserves by eating more bananas, almonds and dark leafy greens, says Kohn. (Seasonal snack alert: A magnesium boost is just one of the 5 Reasons to Eat Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.)
Your limbs feel tingly or numb. That freaky pins-and-needles feeling can be the result of low levels of B vitamins, specifically B6, folate, and B12—the latter a B vitamin typically found in animal products that vegetarians and vegans tend to be deficient in. Boost your Bs by consuming more whole grains, spinach, beans, and eggs.
You crave ice. Srange as it sounds, the urge to chomp ice is a sign of an iron deficiency. Experts aren’t exactly sure why, but a recent study theorizes that ice leads to a much-needed mental energy boost to fight the fatigue that sets in when you're low on iron. Instead of face-planting into the freezer, bring your iron levels up via red meat, pinto beans, or lentils. Then read up on some other signs of low iron, plus how to score more.
Your nails flake and break. If your fingernails or toenails appear brittle and flaky, low iron may again be to blame. “It’s another great reason to order a steak or burger,” says Kohn. If you don’t eat meat, go for foods with a pinto-bean burrito or lentil soup. (Listen to your nails, they know a lot about you! Read 7 Things Your Nails Can Tell You About Your Health.)
Your lips are cracked in the corners. Chapped lips are one thing, but cracking at the corners of your mouth that doesn't get better with a lip balm can be triggered by riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiency. “It may also have to do with not getting enough vitamin C," says Kohn. Dairy products are great sources of riboflavin, and you can find C in citrus fruits and leafy greens.