Jan 2014 Home › Nutritional deficiency diseases › Mineral deficiency symptoms - Mineral deficiency diseasesDeficiency of dietary minerals can lead to a plethora of diseases affecting many body organs. 'Mineral deficiency disease' can be defined as "the consequence of dearth in a dietary mineral in the body in necessary quantities for healthy bodily function". As specific minerals may serve different functions in the body,
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Human body as well as gut bacteria can synthesize many nutrients required for the biological functions. Most of the B Vitamins are synthesized by our gut bacteria. Many amino acids and fatty acids are synthesized in biochemical processes of the body. However, all the dietary minerals are to be consumed through food or supplements. Hence, considering the nutritionally-poor fad diets we eat, the risk of having lower than normal levels of minerals in the body is increased many fold.
Causes of mineral deficiencyThe symptoms and impacts may vary according to the mineral involved and the severity of the deficiency. Very rarely it is asymptomatic. As malnutrition or lack of nutrition is the major cause, the onset of nutritional dearth of two or more dietary minerals at the same time is common. Certain medications, hereditary disorders, malabsorption or diet restrictions due to the presence of another disease may also cause subnormal levels.
More than one mineral may contribute to a particular body function and a dearth of one may make the other ineffective. The excess presence of one particular element may affect the absorption or utilization of another mineral. The presence of a particular mineral may contribute to the absorption efficacy of another and sometimes lead to its toxic levels.
Food habits of a population and prevalence of non-availability of certain mineral in local food sources may also cause deficiency diseases. In such instances government programs to fortify commonly consumed food with
the missing mineral has to be taken up. The universal example is the fortification of the common salt with iodine.
Dietary mineral deficiency disease and symptomsThe symptoms connected with subnormal levels of each individual dietary mineral and the consequent diseases are briefly discussed below.
hypocalcemia. The symptoms include convulsions and tetany, 'pins and needles' sensation, numbness, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and muscle cramps. The causes could be low dietary calcium or low levels of vitamin D in body. Diseases like hypermagnesemia or hypomagnesemia may also give rise to low serum levels of this mineral. Osteoporosis is a disease caused by loss of calcium from the bone irrespective of the amount of dietary mineral in take. Osteoporosis is due to excess of loss of bone mass and too little new bone is being built up.
* Iodine deficiency symptomsIodine is an essential trace mineral required for the function of thyroid glands. Low levels of iodine in diet leads to symptoms of diseases like goiter, cretinism, hypothyroidism and mental retardation. In the developing countries low dietary iodine is a serious public health problem. It is being overcome by fortifying common salt with iodine.
* Iron deficiency symptomsIron deficiency anemia is caused when there is low dietary intake of iron. This disease shows symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, irritability, restlessness and breathlessness. If the problem is not corrected it can lead to morbidity and death. Malabsorption, chronic bleeding and inadequate intake are the main reasons for low bioavailability of iron.
magnesium are muscle weakness, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, tetany, insulin resistance and nausea.
Manganese deficiency symptomsLow dietary intake of this mineral may cause diseases like osteoporosis, schizophrenia, diabetes and epilepsy with symptoms like joint pain, inflammation, arthritis and dermatitis.
* Molybdenum deficiency symptomsRegular low dietary intake of this trace mineral is required for the body's enzymatic functions. Its dearth may occur in patients receiving parenteral nutrition. Significant sources of this mineral are meat products, green vegetables and cereals. Diseases like esophageal squamous cell carcinoma are observed when the mineral is absent in diet.
NickelThe dietary requirement of nickel is very low and its availability is high in food sources. Some people develop * allergy to nickel in foods. The absence of this trace mineral in the body may cause retarded growth, altered lipid levels in the blood, altered glucose levels in the blood and impairment to reproductive system.
* Phosphorus deficiency symptomsHypophosphatemia with low soluble phosphorus (phosphate) levels in the serum is caused due to malabsorption, malnutrition and excess loss of the mineral in the urine. Low levels of this mineral in the blood causes neurological diseases and muscular and skeletal dysfunction.
* Potassium deficiency symptomsHypokalemia is a severe shortage of potassium in body fluid, which may turn fatal. Low serum levels of this mineral can cause cramps, muscle weakness, alkalosis, confusion, breathlessness and arrhythmia.
* Sulfur deficiency symptomsThe amino acids cysteine and methionine contain sulfur. This mineral is found most of the food sources. Animal products, fruits, vegetables and greens are rich sources of this mineral. Sulfur is also recovered by the body during protein breakdown. Low levels of this mineral in the body can cause symptoms like muscle pain, weak muscles, impairment in protein synthesis. In human nutrition, low levels of protein consumption leads to low levels of sulfur.
VanadiumMany food sources contain this trace mineral. Vanadium is required for normal growth, skeletal development and reproductive functions. The nutritional requirement of this mineral is in very small amounts. In some research studies it was found that the trace mineral stabilizes blood glucose levels in all forms of diabetes. Further reearch inputs are needed to fix the role of vanadium in diabetes. It is also known to reduce the LDL cholesterol levels. Vanadyl sulfate is the most common form of vanadium supplements.
Inadequate dietary intake of zinc, malnutrition, malabsorption, fecal losses of zinc in diarrhea and bariatric surgery may cause inadequate levels of the trace mineral in the body. Supplementation, dietary modification, dietary diversification and food fortification by incorporating zinc additives in food can solve the inadequacy problem.
Mineral deficiency symptoms - Mineral deficiency diseases