Thin, brittle hair
Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: B vitamins
You hear all about how important the B vitamin biotin is for strong, healthy hair, and that’s true. However, running low on folate (also called folic acid) may also cause thin, brittle strands, says Small. Folate is often found in enriched grains like bread and cereal. Even one cup of white rice is an excellent source. But if you’ve been cutting out carbohydrates because you’re aiming to lose weight, you may be missing out without careful planning. Grains aren’t a must, though. A cup of raw spinach is a good source; a cup of cooked asparagus will give you 60 percent of your daily quota. Here are more signs you could be deficient in B vitamins.
A graying part
Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: Copper
If your part is looking unexpectedly silver lately, check your copper intake. “Copper plays a role in melanin production, which is what gives hair its color,” says Olivia Wagner, MS, RDN, LDN, of Aligned Modern Health, a group of functional wellness centers in Chicago. Consider getting your copper levels tested if your hair is going gray quickly or surprisingly early (like in your 20s without a family history). Canned clams, oysters, and mushrooms are all go-to sources. These are the vitamins you need to take at every age.
Cracks and sores in your mouth
Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: B12
If your body needs more B12, you may notice that you’re getting ulcer-like lesions in your mouth or cracks on the sides. “I see people come in with this who have a B12 deficiency,” says Wagner. To correct that, she’ll look into a possible supplement, as well as advise adding more B12 sources into the diet. Get more poultry, (lean) red meat, and eggs. If you’re vegetarian, it’s a bit more of a challenge, but it’s doable with fortified foods, like non-dairy milk, cereal, and nutritional yeast. Here are more nutrients you could be missing if you’re vegetarian or vegan.