How to Spot Nutritional Deficiencies

emotions of assisted living

“Don’t worry, honey, I’m eating just fine.” Fact or fiction?

For elderly parents living alone, diet is an important – but tricky – topic of discussion. If you’re concerned about an elderly parent’s food intake, take note of their appearance, which can provide clues to nutrient deficiencies.

Mouth

A lack of vitamin B12 will cause cracked and peeling lips and tongue that’s sore, burned, or fissured. The symptoms may also create swelling of the tongue that makes swallowing uncomfortable, and tissue lining the inner cheeks well slough off easily. Lips may swell and take on a reddened, shiny appearance, or they can crack, blister, and bleed along the corners. Red meats, fatty fish like salmon and trout, and low fat dairy products all contain high levels of B12 vitamins to remedy symptoms.

Skin

A scaly rash, hair loss, or dull and sallow skin all indicate a biotin deficiency. Eggs are an excellent source of this B7 vitamin. Skin that flakes, is prone to abrasion and spontaneous bleeds, or appears rough and covered in goose bumps shows signs of deficiencies of fatty acids and Vitamins A and C. Flaxseed, avocado, nuts and seeds, and a range of fish carry these vitamins.

Nails

Healthy, strong nails are smooth to the touch and fleshy in color. Nails with white spots, bumpy ridges, or flaky top layers strongly indicate a low supply of zinc. Essential to the immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses, older adults need an average of 8-11 mg of the mineral each day for proper functioning. Read meats, beans, whole grains, and dairy products are loaded with the essential mineral.

Hands

If hands tingle and throb, fingertips are excessively cold to the touch or take on a purplish hue, or extremities take on numbness, they may indicate a dietary lack of potassium. Crucial to the transmission of nerve impulses, low potassium levels prevent nerve signals from flowing to and from the brain. Extended potassium deficiency can cause long-term nerve damage and heartbeat irregularities. Bananas, dark leafy greens, and white beans are packed with essential potassium.

Our team at Choice Health Management values the concern and dedication that caretakers put forth for loved ones. For tips to starting and maintaining healthy conversation, give one of our team members a call today.