8 Things Your Eyes, Ears, Mouth, and Nails Tell You about Your Health

March 26, 2018 | Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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8 Things Your Eyes, Ears, Mouth, and Nails Tell You about Your Health
Your body provides amazing clues about your health. If you pay attention to some subtle signs, you can get an idea of health areas in need of some care. Here are some clinical pearls that may give you incentive to be proactive for your nutritional needs and health.

1. Bags and Circles under the Eyes


Bags under and around the eyes may indicate several concerns. From a nutritional perspective, one thinks of common concerns like sleep disorders, fluid retention, heart, kidney, thyroid, and lymphatic function. Dark circles under the eye often reflect allergies, increased detoxification needs, sleep deprivation, and chronic adrenal fatigue. Collagen loss, congestion and inflammation of blood vessels near the eye and pigment changes lead to the dark circles and bags under the eyes.

Arabinogalactan, mangosteen, grape seed extract, resveratrol and bromelain work well for lymphatic congestion and fluid retention from inflammation. Cordyceps, vitamin E as tocotrienols, coenzyme Q10, silymarin, lipoic acid, carnosine, and others help support healthy kidney function, fluid management, and detoxification. Other support may be needed for thyroid and adrenal health.

Calcium hydroxyapatite is also helpful for improving dark circles, eyelid bags, and hollowed appearance around the eyes. Researchers used this specialized form of calcium as an injection to the treat the region around the eye and improve collagen and tissue health. We offer a more convenient oral form of calcium hydroxyapatite in a microcrystalline form that provides excellent oral absorption.

2. Crease in the Earlobe


A diagonal crease in the earlobe or the soft, fleshy part of the lower ear known as Frank’s sign is considered a finding related with cardiovascular disease. First identified in 1973, it is considered an independent risk factor of coronary artery disease. Higher stroke risk has also been associated with the appearance of the ear lobe crease. It occurs as a result of vascular thickening, atherosclerosis, and loss of skin elasticity. It also happens in premature aging. Bilateral earlobe creases are linked with higher hs-CRP level and more severe risk of cardiovascular disease. You may find out more about cardiovascular health on our health topics page or using the search engine on out site. For more cardiovascular support, visit our cardiovascular health topic page

3. Chapped Lips, Cracks, and Canker Sores


Your mouth provides incredible information about nutritional health. Nutritional concerns often show up in the mouth before other sites of the body. The mucosal lining is highly dependent upon the B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and biotin). For example, chapped lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth occur with insufficient vitamin B2 and B6. Insufficient niacin or vitamin B3 may lead to cracks on the tongue and bad breath. Lack of biotin may make the tongue look pale and smooth. Insufficient folate and vitamin B6 leads to increased inflammation in mucous membranes, tongue, and lips. More in-depth information about clues your mouth provides may be found in the article What Your Dentist May Not Tell Your About Your Oral Health. Information about the diverse signs of B vitamin deficiency may be found in the article B Vitamin Deficiency – Are you at Risk?

4. Bleeding Gums


Bleeding gums from flossing or brushing teeth may occur as a consequence of several nutritional concerns and reflects tissue breakdown, inflammation, and increased concern of periodontal disease. One of the most common nutritional reasons pertains to inadequate vitamin C and insufficient antioxidants. Vitamin C deficiency causing bleeding gums is scurvy. Vitamin C deficiency still occurs today, despite the vast selection and access to foods. Diets that lack fresh fruits and vegetables seen with elderly on fixed incomes, fast food junkies, those with food aversions and behavioral disorders seen with autism spectrum disorders, homeless individuals or travelers with limited access, and fad diets, will be more at risk for insufficient vitamin C that leads to bleeding gums and periodontal disease.

Capillaries require vitamin C and antioxidants like grape seed extract and coenzyme Q10 to maintain strength and integrity against the tissue trauma of chewing, dental care and daily health. Type 2 diabetics have a higher incidence of bleeding gums and lack of antioxidants due to the diabetic inflammation and thus need to be even more diligent about their nutritional needs.

In addition, if you are on a blood thinner like Coumadin, bleeding gums may reflect that the medication dose is too much and is grossly interfering with vitamin K levels and necessary blood clotting functions in the body. High dose omega-3 EPA may also contribute to gums that bleed easily, especially if one takes aspirin, ibuprofen, or other blood-thinning medications. Periodontal health impacts the whole body. Don’t ignore changes in gum tissues.

5. Sense of Smell


Loss of the ability to smell may occur for a number of reasons like head trauma, sinus infections, and other factors that may be temporary or permanent. It is always important to know why there is a loss of smell. Permanent loss of smell or anosmia is a serious concern. It’s not just that the there is the loss of this function and that foods may be less palatable. Loss of smell is considered an early sign of neurodegenerative disorders and occurs years before the full presentation of the neurological decline seen in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related cognitive decline, and even depression. The sense of smell requires zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral needed for dopamine production. Parkinson’s is related with a decline in dopamine within the brain. Zinc is essential to help clear amyloid-beta protein build-up in the brain that is linked with dementia.

6. Fingernail Changes


Fingernails require several nutrients to grow and maintain structural integrity. These include magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, sulfur, selenium, and protein. Pinpoint white spots on the fingernails often reflect zinc deficiency. If this is found especially in context with other signs of zinc deficiency then increased intake is necessary. Body odor, i.e. foot, armpit, or generalized body odor not due to poor hygiene also reflects inadequate zinc.

Zinc deficiency has profound effects as we saw in the sense of smell paragraph, but also affects hundreds of other processes in the body. Prostate, thyroid, blood sugar, wound healing, dopamine production, adrenal glands, polycystic ovarian syndrome, energy production, and many other concerns may worsen with insufficient zinc. If you have pinpoint white spots on your nails, don’t ignore it or think it was caused a simple finger nail trauma. Check your children’s fingernails for white spots on the nails as zinc is needed for growth. Sweating with athletic activities, processed foods, limited diets, and gut inflammation increase zinc requirements.

7. Excessive Thirst


Increased thirst may indicate insufficient essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 oils). Children who have ADD/ADHD and increased thirst and urination may benefit from essential fatty acid support like DHA/EPA. Adults can experience the same increase in thirst when needing essential fats. If you just can’t quench your thirst, evaluate your dietary intake of omega-3 oils. These are found in cold water fatty fish (tuna, salmon, herring, etc), and some seeds/nuts like chia and flax seeds, and walnuts, etc. Diabetes, medication side effects, and other concerns may also cause increased thirst. Thirst signals may be misinterpreted as a sign of hunger. If thirst is not satiated with simple changes, talk with your health care professional.

8. Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears


Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a common side effect of a number of medications. This includes popular over-the-counter medications and prescriptions of aspirin and NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, Aleve, Motrin, etc). Blood pressure and cardiovascular medications and antidepressants may also cause tinnitus. If you are one of millions who uses these medications daily and have recently developed ringing in the ears, it may not be due to age or loud noise exposure from years ago. It may be the aspirin that you take. Removal of the medication will likely improve the tinnitus over time. Other support for tinnitus includes arabinogalactan, r-alpha lipoic acid, grape seed extract, B vitamins, zinc, melatonin and others.

Many of these signs may be caused by more than one concern, but often times simple nutritional support can clear things up. If these findings persist or multiple concerns exist, please work with your health care professional for appropriate management. The human body is such an amazing gift. If you observe and listen to its clues, you can help take better care of your body.

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