|What are Minerals|
|Common Mineral Deficiencies|
|So What is to be Done about Mineral Deficiency|
Minerals are pivotal for your health. The body needs minerals for carrying out many vital functions, including the synthesis of hormones and enzymes; regenerating tissues, muscles, and bones. Minerals and vitamins work in harmony to carry out important functions of the body. Dietary mineral deficiency can have unpleasant repercussions on your health. Let us read about why your diet must comprise the right doses of all the vital minerals and what happens when you don’t get enough of them.
What are Minerals?
Minerals are solid elements that are present in nature. The human body cannot produce essential minerals and depends on different foods to obtain them. Minerals come from rocks, water, and the soil. Hence, it is the plants that usually absorb them, becoming the best sources. Animals that feed on grass also provide our bodies with essential minerals.
There are two types of minerals that our bodies need – Macrominerals (our bodies require them in large quantities) and Trace Minerals (we need small quantities of these). Macrominerals include Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Sulfur, and Chloride. Trace minerals include Iron, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Iodine, Fluoride, Selenium, and Cobalt.
Common Mineral Deficiencies
Mineral deficiency happens when you are not getting enough of one or more of these minerals. This could happen because you are not eating a healthy diet. Sometimes, medication for certain illnesses may also trigger mineral deficiency.
Mineral deficiency can be stopped and reversed. But to do that, you will have to learn about the most common mineral deficiencies and how to identify them.
1. Calcium Deficiency
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. Most of the Calcium in our bodies can be found in the bones and teeth. If you are not getting enough Calcium through the foods you eat, then your body will start to draw Calcium from your bones and then your teeth. This means – Calcium deficiency becomes evident in weak bones. You may eventually be diagnosed with Osteoporosis. You may also notice loosening of teeth and gum swelling.
Other symptoms of this mineral deficiency include:
· Muscle cramps
· Weakness in your muscles
· Pain in the arms and thighs
· Tingling in your hands and feet
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry skin, brittle nails
2. Iron Deficiency
Dietary iron deficiency is very common among Indian women and is in fact the most common mineral deficiency in the world. Iron binds haemoglobin to your Red Blood Cells and helps to transport oxygen to all parts of your body.
Two common causes of this mineral deficiency are poor dietary choices and menstruation (every month, women lose a lot of iron through menstrual bleeding).
Mild dietary iron deficiency triggers:
· Muscle fatigue
Severe dietary iron deficiency may result in:
· Compromised immunity
· Impairment of brain function
3. Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is needed for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which in turn, controls many other functions of the body such as the workings of the brain, maintaining bone mineral density, and keeping your metabolic system in order. Iodine deficiency can cause goitre – an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This, in turn, will trigger the other symptoms of iodine deficiency such as:
· Uneven heartbeat
· Unexplained weight gain
Iodine deficiency in children can be particularly harmful because it might lead to impaired development of their brains. This mineral deficiency may also slow down their growth.
4. Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium is also crucial for bone and tooth health. It is also involved in a whopping 300+ enzyme reactions. Magnesium deficiency can have terrible consequences on your health as it might lead to:
· Heart disorders
· High blood pressure
· Type 2 diabetes
· Metabolic syndrome
There are easy ways to guess that you may have contracted magnesium deficiency:
· Muscle cramps
· Restless legs
· Fluctuating heart rhythm
· Splitting headaches
5. Potassium Deficiency
Potassium helps your neurons transmit signals and hence is important for your neurological health. It controls muscle contraction, helps in regulating heart beat and supports regular heart muscle activity, this is also why potassium is necessary for your heart function. Potassium also keeps your blood pressure stable. It is also a vital for protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism
Mild Potassium deficiency will cause:
· Nausea and vomiting
· Muscle weakness and fatigue
· Constipation/bloating/ Stomach upset
If left unaddressed, Potassium deficiency can give rise to:
· Mood changes/Mental disorder
· Kidney disorders
· Muscle paralysis
So What is to be Done about Mineral Deficiency?
The simplest way to prevent or even reverse mineral deficiency is through a healthy diet.
|Calcium||All dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt, green vegetables, like spinach, kale, cabbage, lettuce and broccoli, and sea fish like sardines|
|Iron||Beans, lentils, broccoli, spinach, kale, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pomegranates, red meat and animal organs like the liver|
|Iodine||Plain unsweetened yoghurt, eggs, cod and seaweed. In India, table salt is iodized and it has greatly helped in tackling iodine deficiency. But do not consume more than 2300 mg per day.|
|Magnesium||Whole grains, almonds, spinach, dark chocolate|
|Potassium||Potatoes, bananas, spinach, kale, beans, lentils, cashews, raisins, dates|
Sometimes, pregnancy, menstruation, and certain disorders can also cause mineral deficiency. Usually, doctors prescribe mineral and vitamin supplements to such people. If you experience heavy menstrual flow, then talk to your doctor and see if you might need iron supplements.
Mineral deficiency is high among people of impoverished countries and it is the government’s duty to increase food security so that everyone is entitled to wholesome meals. And the rest of us, who may be possibly too busy or ignorant about healthy eating, need to wake up to the dangers of mineral deficiency. Instead of filling ourselves with deadly junk food, we should all make an attempt to plan out healthy meals and snacks.