The Consequences of Mineral Deficiencies and How to Avoid Them

Mineral deficiencies can have a wide range of negative effects on your health, from weak bones to a weakened immune system. Calcium, vitamin D, potassium, iron, vitamin B12, and magnesium are all essential minerals that your body needs to function properly. A lack of any of these minerals can lead to serious health issues. Calcium is especially important for keeping bones strong and controlling muscle and nerve function, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Most adults need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, although women over 50 and men over 70 need 1200 mg, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dairy products like milk and yogurt are great sources of calcium, but if you don't like dairy, you can find this nutrient in calcium-fortified orange juice or breakfast cereals (check the food's nutrition label to see if calcium has been added) and in dark leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli. Vitamin D is another essential nutrient for bone health and may also help prevent certain types of cancer, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause fatigue, bone pain, mood swings, and muscle aches or weakness.

Natural sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, fortified milk and orange juice, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Potassium is important for muscle function and nerve transmission. You could have low potassium levels in the short term due to diarrhea or vomiting, excessive sweating, antibiotics, laxatives or diuretics, excessive alcohol consumption, or because of a chronic condition such as kidney disease. Symptoms of a deficiency include muscle weakness, contractions or cramps; constipation; tingling and numbness; and abnormal heart rate or palpitations.

Natural sources of potassium include bananas, milk, acorn squash, lentils and red beans, and other legumes. Adult men need 3,400 mg per day and women need 2,600 mg. Iron is essential for energy production and transporting oxygen throughout your body. To increase iron levels, Patton recommends eating iron-fortified cereals, beef, oysters, beans (especially lima, white beans, and red beans), lentils, and spinach. Adult men and women over 50 need 8 mg per day, and adult women under 50 need 18 mg a day. Vitamin B12 helps the production of red blood cells and DNA as well as improving neurotransmitter function.

Vegetarians and vegans may be at special risk of suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency because plants don't produce the nutrient. People who have undergone weight-loss surgery may also lack vitamin B12 because the procedure makes it difficult for the body to extract the nutrient from food. Symptoms of severe B12 deficiency include numbness in the legs, hands or feet; problems walking and maintaining balance; anemia; fatigue; weakness; a swollen tongue; memory loss; difficulty thinking; and more. Magnesium helps maintain bone health and helps energy production. Adults need between 310 and 420 mg depending on gender and age according to the NIH.

While deficiency is fairly rare in otherwise healthy people certain medications (including some antibiotics and diuretics) and health problems (such as type 2 diabetes and Crohn's disease) can limit magnesium absorption or increase the loss of this nutrient from the body. If you suddenly find locks of hair on your pillow or in the shower drain it could be a sign of more serious problems such as low iron levels or thyroid disease. The good news is that you can eliminate mineral deficiencies with supplements. Healthy adults should ingest 2.4 mg of B12 per day; 8 mg for men over 18 years of age and 18 mg for women; 600 IU (800 IU for adults age 71 and older) of vitamin D; 1 000 mg of calcium daily from food sources and supplements; 3 400 mg per day for adult men or 2 600 mg for adult women of potassium, 8 mg for men over 18 years of age or 18 mg for women under 50 years old of iron, 310-420 mg depending on gender and age according to the NIH of magnesium. Mineral deficiency is the lack of dietary minerals which are micronutrients needed for proper health. The cause may be a poor diet poor absorption of minerals consumed or a dysfunction in how minerals are used by the body after absorption. These deficiencies can cause many disorders such as anemia goiter zinc deficiency iron deficiency magnesium deficiency etc.

Bob Enderlin
Bob Enderlin

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