The tell-tale signs you could have a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Many Australian women suffer from at least one nutritional deficiency.

Some are more serious than others, but all have the potential to impact quality of life.

Symptoms range from dry skin and hair, bruising, and cracking around the finger tips, to more serious memory loss, hallucinations and problems with vision.

Bruising easily can signal a number of health issues. Image via iStock.

Consulting your GP is always the best course of action if you have health concerns but bodies have ways of telling us when things aren't quite right.

Here are the common signs you may have a deficiency and should seek medical advice.


  • General fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Pale pink/white inside lower eyelids
  • Pale pink/white lips or inside the mouth
  • Bruising easily
  • Dizziness
  • A condition named 'pica', which refers to craving non-nutritive substances such as ice, dirt or clay
  • Sore or swollen tongue
  • Pounding in your chest
  • Short of breath
  • Headaches

Listen: Jessie Stephens found a two-minute way to get your iron levels tested. Post continues after audio. 

What you may need more of...

  • Red meat: Beef, pork, lamb and veal.
  • Beef and chicken liver.
  • Fish: Sardines, oysters, shellfish and mussels.
  • Legumes: Lima beans, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, baked beans and lentils.
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, green peas, kale and spinach.

Vitamin D

  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • If you're overweight or obese
  • Aching bones
  • Osteoporosis

What you may need more of...

  • 10 minutes of sunlight everyday
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Fatty fish: Tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Tofu
  • Beef liver
  • Mushrooms
You only need 10 minutes of sunlight a day. Image via iStock.

Omega 3 fats

  • Dry, itchy or flaky skin
  • Dandruff
  • Brittle nails
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry eyes
  • Red bumps on back of upper arms
  • Excessive thirst

What you may need more of...

  • Seafood: Fish oil, fish roe, tuna and smoked salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Vegetables: Spinach and brocolli
  • Soybeans
  • Chia seeds
  • Eggs (specifically the yolk)


  • Cramps
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory and/or difficulty concentrating
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Hot flushes
  • Anxiety

What you may need more of...

  • Dark leafy greens: Spinach and kale
  • Beans and lentils
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Dried fruit: Raisins, dates, apricots
  • Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

  • Throat swelling and soreness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Swollen tongue
  • Cracked skin (commonly at the corners of the mouth)
  • Dermatitis
  • Anemia
Dermatitis could be a sign of a Vitamin B2 deficiency. Image via iStock. 

What you may need more of...

  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Lamb
  • Almonds
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Turkey
  • Asparagus
  • Yughurt


  • Weak and brittle nails
  • Muscle cramps
  • Frequent fractures
  • Difficult losing weight
  • Issues with sleep
  • Depression
  • Tooth decay
  • Backache
Backache could be a sign of calcium deficiency. Image via iStock.

What you may need more of...

  • Milk, cheese and yoghurt
  • Dark leafy greens: Spinach, bok choy and kale
  • Tofu
  • Fish canned with their bones
  • Almonds, dried figs and dried apricots

So if something doesn't feel quite right, perhaps you're more tired than usual, or you're feeling particularly irritable, then it could be signs of a nutritional deficiency.

The key is always to eat as much variety as possible and see a doctor if problems persist.