Minerals are particular types of nutrients that our bodies require to function correctly. A mineral deficiency can happen when we do not consume the necessary daily intake of a specific mineral or the right foods. Mineral deficiencies can occur over time and are usually do arise due to several different reasons. These can include a lack of minerals in your diet, increased need for particular minerals, or difficulty absorbing minerals from food. Mineral deficiencies lead to a host of health problems such as a decreased immune system, fatigue, or weak bones.
Even if you are a health freak, reliance on heavily processed foods can make it extremely difficult for you to get the right amount of minerals or vitamins from your diet alone. In fact, according to a CDC report, around 10 percent of people living in the USA have some form of vitamin, mineral, or nutrient deficiency. While a healthy diet consisting of organic foods might be enough to avoid common mineral deficiencies, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get everything your body needs. That said, let us look at five common mineral deficiencies, their symptoms, and how to prevent them.
Iodine is responsible for producing the thyroid hormone inside our body. Our body cannot make iodine by itself. So, our diet plays an essential part in helping us consume the right amount of iodine. An iodine deficiency can result in severe and uncomfortable symptoms. These include pregnancy-related issues, learning disabilities, swelling in the neck, or weight gain. Iodine deficiencies can also lead to thyroid enlargement, which results in nodules developing inside the goiter. Some people may also suffer from hyperthyroidism due to decreased levels of iodine inside the body.
To tackle iodine deficiencies, you should consider including iodized table salt in your diet. Dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese also contain high iodine levels. At the same time, fish, shrimp, and seaweed can also increase your iodine levels. People who are allergic to seafood or lactose intolerant can take thyroid support supplements to balance their iodine levels. However, always consult a doctor before taking supplements.
Our body requires the mineral calcium to keep our bones and teeth strong. It also supports the correct function of our muscles, hormones, nerves, and blood vessels. A calcium deficiency has only a few apparent symptoms in the beginning. It is because our bodies can regulate the amount of calcium in our blood. However, over the long term, a calcium deficiency can lead to osteopenia, which results in loss of bone density. If left untreated for a long time, osteopenia can lead to osteoporosis. Some other common symptoms include a tingling sensation in the fingers, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, frequent fractures, or muscle cramps.
To prevent calcium deficiencies, consume sources of calcium such as cheese, yogurt, fish, peas, beans, milk, and yogurt. Vegetables like kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are also high in calcium and suitable for people on a vegan diet.
Around half of the iron inside our body is present inside our blood. Iron is mainly present inside hemoglobin- a protein that supplies oxygen to every tissue inside our body. It is also a vital part of enzymes and proteins that keep our bodies healthy. Iron deficiency can develop over time and can lead to anemia. Some common symptoms include fatigue, pale skin, brittle nails, inflammation of the tongue, headaches, lightheadedness, to name a few.
Fortunately, there are tons of good food choices out there that will help you meet your daily iron intake goals. These include shellfish, spinach, legumes, organ meat, quinoa, red meat, turkey, broccoli, tofu, and much more.
Potassium works as an electrolyte inside our body. It supports the proper transmission of nerve signals, heart function, and muscle contraction. Enzymes also require potassium to function appropriately, particularly those that allow your body to convert carbohydrates into energy. Commonly, potassium deficiencies occur due to excessive fluid loss. It can result from vomiting, use of diuretics, or kidney disease. Potassium deficiency symptoms show up as abdominal pain, bloating, or constipation. If left unchecked, potassium deficiencies can also result in muscle paralysis, irregular heartbeat, or worse, death.
To avoid potassium deficiencies from occurring, consider adding potassium-rich foods to your daily diet. Vegetables and fruits, such as avocado, bananas, potatoes, beets, plums, and dark leafy greens, contain high potassium levels sufficient to meet your daily requirement.
Our body requires magnesium for various essential bodily chemical reactions. For instance, those that regulate blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Magnieusm also contributes to the proper function of our brain, protein production, metabolism, and nerve/muscle function. Around 60 percent of our body’s magnesium exists in our bones; the other 40 percent resides in soft tissue cells and muscles.
Magnesium deficiencies are usually uncommon in healthy adults. However, excessive alcohol consumption or particular types of medication can decrease the mineral’s level in our body. Some signs include loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, committing, and nausea. Furthermore, low magnesium levels can also lead to muscle cramps, irregular heartbeats, seizures, muscle cramps, and limb numbness. You can meet your daily magnesium intake goal by consuming dark chocolate, leafy greens such as spinach, nuts, legumes, avocado, whole grains, and bananas.
The primary cause of mineral deficiencies is that we are simply not getting the right amount of minerals inside our body from food. A poor diet that focuses extensively on one type of food group results in such deficiencies. On the other hand, fad diets may also result in mineral deficiencies. An overhaul of your eating habits combined with the right dietary supplements can lead to a deficiency-free life. Consider visiting your healthcare provider to know the type of foods you should eat and the amount and type of supplements you should take.