Vitamin Deficiencies That May Cause Body Odor

Body odor isn't always about poor hygiene — sometimes people have disorders or nutrient deficiencies that cause them to have an excessive, unpleasant smell. Not getting enough of a certain vitamin, such as B-12, can cause some people to have excessive, odorous gas — but not necessarily an unpleasant body odor. Mineral deficiencies, particularly of zinc and magnesium, are more likely to cause body odor. Consult your doctor if you have concerns about body odor and how it relates to your diet.

Sweating after a hard workout. (Image: JGI/Tom Grill/Blend Images/GettyImages)

Not Getting Enough Zinc

Zinc is a mineral necessary for many functions involving your immune system, your sense of taste and smell, prostate health and your adrenal function. Zinc also plays an important role in managing the waste produced in your body after the break down of carbohydrates. A diet insufficient in zinc may deter the detoxification process, which could result in body odor. Some other symptoms of zinc deficiency may include hair loss, diarrhea, weight loss, taste abnormalities, impotence, eye and skin lesions and delayed healing of wounds. Good sources of zinc are oysters, beef, pork, lamb and dark-meat chicken. Fortified whole grains, nuts and legumes are other good sources.

Magnesium's Role in Body Odor

Magnesium is needed by every organ in your body including your muscles, heart and kidneys. Magnesium can have an effect on your intestinal flora and is needed to deodorize your internal organs, which helps with body odor, says cardiologist Robert Segal, MD. If you experience excessive body odor, along with symptoms of low levels of magnesium such as muscle contractions, cramping, twitching or numbness, contact your doctor to assess your magnesium levels.

Due to its neutralizing properties, magnesium salts, also known as epsom salt, have been used for years as an effective natural odor blocker. Magnesium is also used in many deodorants as a non-toxic alternative to aluminum additives. Consuming foods high in magnesium such as dark chocolate, whole grains, legumes, nuts and tofu may help reduce offensive odors from your body.

Riboflavin and Enzymes

If you have an unpleasant fishy odor constantly, even without eating a lot of seafood, you may suffer from the condition trimethylaminuria. Missing enzymes prevent you from properly processing a compound called trimethylamine that you get through your diet, so the smell releases in bulk in your sweat, urine and breath. Riboflavin, or vitamin B-2, has been shown in preliminary research to potentially help restart enzyme activity in patients with trimethylaminuria.

Again, a deficiency may not have caused the disorder, but extra riboflavin in your diet, along with reduction of trimethylamine-containing foods, such as cruciferous vegetables and seafood, could help. Find riboflavin in dairy, eggs, lean meats and nuts.

Diet Interventions For Better Odor

You may not have a specific vitamin deficiency that causes your body odor, but dietary intervention could help clean up your scent. Fresh green plants, particularly parsley, kale, spinach and wheatgrass, contain lots of chlorophyll — the compound that makes them green — and may deodorize your body. Citrus juice, particularly from lemons and grapefruit, contains acid that flushes water quickly through your system; the fiber in these fruits also moves the contents of your digestive tract more quickly, so food has less time to ferment and cause odor.

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