Too much of the time, we talk about food being “healthy” or “unhealthy” in relation to how it affects our weight. We call dessert “fattening,” and deem salad “beneficial to weight loss.” And although there is no denying that maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of any meal regimen, there is so much more that goes into creating a balanced diet than counting calories and fats.
One element that often gets overlooked is consuming enough of the essential nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally. The reality is that if you’re not giving your body all that it demands, you’ll probably begin to feel some pretty funky symptoms. That’s your body trying to tell you that it wants its vital nutrients, STAT.
Numbness and tingling are some of the most common signals of nutrient deficiencies. These symptoms are also associated with a number of dangerous conditions—like nerve damage, spinal cord emergencies, multiple sclerosis, and a slew of other diseases—so it’s important to rule these out as soon as possible. But if you’ve already been tested for these conditions, and you’re still feeling that odd sensation throughout your body, try incorporating more of the following nutrients into your diet.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, which means that signs will appear gradually and intensify over time. In rare cases, the symptoms will come on relatively quickly. Given the wide array of problems the deficiency can cause, the condition is often overlooked or mistaken for something else. The most common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include strange sensations, numbness and tingling in the hands, legs or feet.
Potassium helps your heart, nerves, and muscles work at their best, so when you’re lacking in this essential nutrient, you might experience tingling and numbness. A potassium deficiency in the body can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, antibiotics, diuretics, or of chronic conditions—such as eating disorders and kidney disease.
Magnesium helps support bone health and assists in the body’s energy production. Although deficiency is fairly uncommon, it can affect people who take certain medications, have certain health conditions or consume too much alcohol, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. In more severe cases, a deficiency in magnesium can lead to numbness.
An uncommon deficiency in developed countries, vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the body’s cells from damage, muscle weakness and neurological issues. Because of its close links to the nervous system, a lack of vitamin E can cause numbness and tingling in the extremities and throughout the body.
The body needs calcium to keep bones and teeth strong, and to support skeletal structure and function. If deficient, one common signal is numbness and tingling around the mouth and in fingers and toes. This is your body telling you to reach for the milk immediately!