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Bodytalk: Balancing Act; Is your body giving you clues that you're not eating a balanced diet? Our top-to-toe guide will tell you what you're missing out on.

Byline: JACQUI RIPLEY

Thinning hair You lack: IRON

This can indicate low iron - often due to menstruation which results in enough blood loss to cause a gradual depletion. This is likely to affect women who suffer from heavy periods, or eat very little red meat.

What to eat: Natural sources of iron are found in liver, red meat, sardines, canned tuna and fortified breakfast cereal. A bowl of branflakes will supply the RDA (14mg) of iron. Vitamin C helps absorption, so drink a glass of orange juice with your meal. But don't drink tea which results in less iron being stored. And take note - boiling vegetables can reduce the iron content by 20 per cent.

Eyesight problems You lack: VITAMIN A & C

One of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness due to lack of visual purple - a pigment that lets us see in the dark. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and can protect the eyes from free radical attack which clouds the lens. It is also thought to be important in preventing age-related cataracts.

What to eat: One carrot should provide your RDA (800mcg) of vitamin A. Other sources of vitamin A include green leafy veg, fruit and sweet potatoes. As for vitamin C, eat fresh fruit and veg. One orange will give you your RDA (60mg) of vitamin C. Other good sources include kiwi fruit, all citrus fruit and berries.

Cracking at the corners of the mouth: You lack: B2 & B6

We use up more B vitamins when we're stressed which can result in this condition.

What to eat: Both of these vitamins are needed to complement each other. Find B2 in wholegrains such as brown rice - one of the best sources of skin-clearing fibre, cheese, fortified breakfast cereal and green leafy vegetables. A regular intake of B6 is essential as it's passed in urine. Eat bananas, chicken, fish, and baked beans.

Rough, scaly skin You lack: VITAMIN A & E & ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

Rough skin is usually the result of keratinisation when the keratin (protein) in dying skin becomes crusty. Vitamin A and E guards against this, and essential fatty acids (EFAs) help maintain the moisture barrier function of the skin.

What to eat: Good sources of EFAs include oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and herring along with seeds like sunflower, pumpkin and flaxseed. Vitamin E is in peanut butter, spinach and sweet potatoes. And carrots are a good source of vitamin A.

Brittle and split nails

You lack: CALCIUM

Calcium deficiency is associated with poor quality nails and around 99 per cent of calcium from your diet goes straight to your teeth, bones and nails. The remaining one per cent is used throughout your body to help muscles contract, enable blood to clot and to keep your immune system in good condition.

What to eat: Milk, cheddar cheese, yoghurt and eggs are all good suppliers of calcium, along with sardines and cabbage. A pint of semi-skimmed milk provides the RDA (800mg). Brittle nails also respond well to an increased intake of biotin found in chicken, egg yolks and peanuts.

Stretch marks You lack: ZINC

Zinc is necessary for the health of collagen tissue and for the maintenance of the skin's elasticity. Stretch marks often result during pregnancy where the skin is stretched. Bearing in mind that zinc levels can go down by 30 per cent during pregnancy, it makes sense to stock up on this nutrient.

What to eat: Steak, Brazil nuts, wheatgerm, pumpkin seeds, egg yolk.

Cellulite You lack: VITAMIN C

When the body is depleted of vitamin C, the elasticity of collagen collapses and skin can become susceptible to the dimpled effect that is cellulite. Vitamin C strengthens the connective tissue in the skin by twisting the strands of collagen, making them stronger.

What to eat: Citrus fruit, kiwi fruit and berries. Also look to fibre such as brown rice and oats to encourage bowel movement and eliminate toxins - another cause of cellulite.

Thread and varicose veins You lack: BIOFLAVONOIDS

These are often hereditary but a lack of bioflavonoids can exacerbate the problem.

Bioflavonoids act as anti-inflammatories and help maintain blood capillaries, and they strengthen connective tissue.

What to eat: Dark-coloured berries such as cranberries, blueberries, bilberries and purple grapes. Eat with vitamin C to enhance their effect.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 28, 2004
Words:721
Previous Article:Bodytalk: TOP OF THE FORM.
Next Article:Bodytalk: trolley test; READY-TO-EAT CUSTARDS.


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