Micronutrients are comprising of essential vitamins and minerals which are very important for the proper functioning of from inside and outside. However, nutrients deficiency are very common phenomena across the globe. As an individual we often ignore the mild deficiency syndrome unless and until it becomes severe heath issues. 

Some of the important minerals essential for human body are Sodium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, Fluoride, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Iodine. Based on the requirements of the body these minerals have been categorised in macro and trace minerals.

Types of Minerals

  • Macro Minerals: Sodium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Chloride, Potassium, Calcium
  • Trace Minerals: Fluoride, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Iodine

What is Mineral Deficiency?

Mineral deficiency is the health condition in which the body obtain recommended daily intake or inability of body to absorb right amount of minerals. The prior condition is termed as primary while the later known known as secondary deficiency. This deficiency can cause improper functioning of cells, tissues and organs in short term, but it may posses serious health issues in long term. 

Types of Mineral Deficiency

  • Primary: Caused by long term inadequate intake of nutrients
  • Secondary: Caused by malabsorption

The primary deficiency can be caused intake of mineral deficient diets for very long time while the major cause for secondary deficiencies are underlying health condition. The causes, symptoms, its associated health risk and diseases, their remedies and daily recommended intake for essential minerals are illustrated below.

Minerals Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Health Risks, Remedies and Adequate Intakes

Sodium:

  • Causes: Sodium deficiency may be caused by consuming too much low sodium in diet, taking two much fluids and malabsorption to health issues like renal failure, CVD, cirrhosis and use of diuretics.
  • Symptoms: Nausea, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, confusion, too much water in body, muscle weakness, cramps and spasm.
  • Associated Health Risk: Hyponatremia, brain dysfunction, seizures, coma. 
  • Remedies: The mild sodium deficiency can be prevented by inclusion of sodium rich food in our diet like salt, canned and processed food, sunflower seed, clams, however in severe deficiency medical intervention may be required.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 2300 mg

Magnesium:

  • Causes: Magnesium is commonly found in salt and its deficiency can be caused by consumption of low amount of magnesium in diet, alcoholism, diarrhoea, urinary loss and absorption due to existing health condition like, gastrointestinal disorders, and diabetes mellites.
  • Symptoms: Tremors, tingling, loss of coordination, nystagmus, muscle spasm.
  • Associated Health Risk: Hypomagnesemia, Seizures, CVD, Gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Remedies: The deficiency can be prevented by inclusion of magnesium rich diet which includes almond, cashew, black beans, avocado, whole grain, fatty fish, legumes. How ever in severe deficiency medical supplements may be required.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 310-420 mg

Phosphorus:

  • Causes: This deficiency is very rare however it can be caused by poor diet or eating habits and malabsorption due to several health conditions like diabetes, renal disorders, alcoholism.
  • Symptoms:  Apatite and weight loss, irritability, numbness, bone loss, fatigue, weakness stiff joints.
  • Associated Health Risk: Hypophosphatemia, rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, osteoporosis, Fanconi syndrome.
  • Remedies: The case of phosphorous deficiency can be prevented by inclusion of phosphorus rich food like salmon, yogurt, milk and milk products, meat, beans, lentils, nuts in our diet. However severe deficiency may need medical attention.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 700 mg

Sulphur:

  • Causes: Sulphur deficiency is most common, but we often heard that. It is majorly caused by Sulphur deficient diet and malabsorption due to existing health condition.
  • Symptoms: Joint pains, acne, fragile nails and hair, convulsions, depression, memory loss, rashes, slow wound healing.
  • Associated Health Risk: Reduced protein synthesis, arthritis, obesity, CVD, Alzheimer, chronic fatigue, Reduced metabolism and GI (Gastrointestinal) disorders.
  • Remedies: Sulphur deficiency can be prevented by inclusion of Sulphur containing food like Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, legumes, onion, garlic, sprouts, egg in our diet. It can also be obtained from sunlight like Vitamin D but in case of severe deficiency medical supplements may be required.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): No Consensus

Chloride:

  • Causes: Like sodium, chloride deficiency is also very common and can be caused by nausea, vomiting, excessive urinary discharge, alcoholism, inadequate intake and absorption due to existing health condition and chronic medication.
  • Symptoms:  Nausea, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, confusion, muscle twitching, vomiting, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, thirst.
  • Associated Health Risk: Hypochloremia, brain dysfunction, water retention in body.
  • Remedies: It can be prevented by consuming chlorine rich food like seaweed, salt, celery, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, olives. Table salt is the common source of chlorine which can cure mild deficiency. However, in case of severe deficiency medical intervention will be required.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 1800-2300 mg

Potassium:

  • Causes: Potassium deficiency an occur due to inadequate intake in diet or prolonged diarrhoea and vomiting. Its major cause is loss of body fluids. It can also be caused by malabsorption due to presence of existing health condition like chronic renal and GI disorders.
  • Symptoms:  Weakness, fatigue, muscle cramp, numbness, tingling, irregular heart rhythms, vomiting nausea, excessive urination.
  • Associated Health Risk: Hypokalemia, Polyuria, High Blood Pressure, CVD, Renal and GI disorders.
  • Remedies: Mild case of hypokalemia can be cured by inclusion of potassium rich foods like lentils, banana, oranges, grapefruit, apricots, prunes, raisins, dates, mushroom, spinach, broccoli in diet. However, in case of severe deficiency medical supplements may be suitable.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 4700 mg

Calcium:

  • Causes: The major cause of calcium deficiency can be caused due to calcium deficient diet, hormonal fluctuations, other micronutrient deficiency, enhanced demand in case of pregnancy and breastfeeding. In addition to these malabsorption and utilisation due preexisting health disorders. 
  • Symptoms: Numbness, tingling, muscle spasm, muscle cramp, confusion, memory loss, depression hallucination, bone loss, tooth decay.
  • Associated Health Risk: Hypocalcemia, Osteoporosis, Heart dysfunction, Hormonal imbalance, Nerve transmission loss. 
  • Remedies: The rich source of calcium is milk and its product. Calcium deficiency can be prevented by inclusion of calcium rich food items like milk, cheese, leafy veggies, soybeans, tofu, sardines, pilchards in our diet. However, in case of severe deficiency medical supplements might yield better results.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 2000-2500 mg

Fluoride:

  • Causes: Fluoride deficiency is caused by insufficient consumption or improper utilisation of fluoride. Since it’s a trace mineral it can be affected by the excessive discharge from the body or malabsorption due to presence of health condition.
  • Symptoms:  Weak bones, fracture, tooth decay.
  • Associated Health Risk: Cavities, Osteoporosis, Reduces bone density.
  • Remedies: Fluoride rich food items like, fruit juice, crab, water, shellfish, grapes can he help in addressing mild deficiency while for severe case of deficiency medical supplements will be required. Fluoride rich water is the commonly used solution for this deficiency.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 3-4 mg

Manganese:

  • Causes: The manganese deficiency can be caused by the inadequacy of manganese in our diet and malabsorption of manganese due to pre-existing gastrointestinal disorders, epilepsy, diabetes, osteoporosis. However, clinical evidences have different opinion on manganese supplements through manganese rich diet.
  • Symptoms:  Fatigue, weakness, irritability, delayed and impaired growth, menstrual problems, poor bone growth, skeletal defects, abnormal metabolism, memory loss.
  • Associated Health Risk: Bone health, osteoporosis, dermatitis, schizophrenia, disrupts the production of collagen, GI diseases.
  • Remedies: Manganese rich diet is very helpful for mild deficiency. Some of the manganese rich food items are pineapple, peanuts, whole grains, clams, oysters, mussels, nuts, soybeans, legumes, rice, leafy vegetables, coffee, tea, black pepper.  However, in case of severe deficiency medical supplements might be required.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 1.8-2.8 mg

Iron:

  • Causes: Iron deficiency is caused by the inadequate intake of iron in our daily food item. However, it can be caused by heavy bleeding during menstruation, pregnancy, increased utilisation during lactation, internal bleeding, malabsorption due to present health condition like gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Symptoms:  Headaches, nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, bleeding, tingling, numbness, pale skins.
  • Associated Health Risk: Anaemia, Heart disease, complications during pregnancy and childbearing, child with low birth weight, delayed growth, prone to infections.
  • Remedies: Preventive actions like inclusion of iron rich food like oyster, white beans, spinach, lentils, tofu, cashews, whole grain in our diet can minimise the impact of iron deficiency. However, in severe deficiency its advisable for taking supplements as suggested by medical experts.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 8-18 mg

Copper:

  • Causes: The copper deficiency can be caused due to inadequate intake and utilisation of copper. However, the most common cause of these deficiency is GI surgery which affects the absorption of copper. Menkes is the genetic disorder of copper deficiency.
  • Symptoms:  Fatigue, pale skin, poor growth, muscle soreness, always feeling cold.
  • Associated Health Risk: Menkes, enzootic ataxia, hyper flexibility of the joints and fragility of the veins in newborns, increased risk of atherosclerosis, affects bone marrow.
  • Remedies: The role of copper is very important in prenatal stage which affects the health of newborn babies. Copper rich food items like liver, crab, oyster, mushrooms, lobster, leafy veggies, nuts can help in avoiding copper deficiencies. For extreme deficiencies medical intervention would be required.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 900 mcg

Zinc:

  • Causes: The common cause of zinc deficiency is reduced dietary intake. However, it can be caused by the malabsorption and improper utilisation of zinc in case of pre-existing health conditions like acrodermatitis enteropathica.
  • Symptoms:  Weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, hair loss, unexpected weight loss, diarrhoea, delayed sexual maturity.
  • Associated Health Risk: Impaired growth and development of children, complications during pregnancy, immunity dysfunction. 
  • Remedies: Mild case of zinc deficiency can be reverted with zinc rich dietary items like whole grain, oyster, crab, red meat, poultry, nuts, chickpeas. In severe deficiency medical supplements will prove very useful.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 8-11 mg

Selenium:

  • Causes: Selenium deficiency can be caused by inadequate intake and consuming the food grown on low-selenium soil. It can also be caused by the malabsorption due to GI surgeries and health conditions like phenylketonuria & GI disorders. 
  • Symptoms:  Weakness, fatigue, muscle weakness hair loss, infertility.
  • Associated Health Risk: Impaired immune system, susceptible to infections, Keshan disease, Kashin-Beck disease, thyroid hormone regulation, male fertility
  • Remedies: The risk of selenium deficiency can be reduced by including selenium rich foot item in our dietary plan. Some of the selenium rich food items are nuts, sardines, ham, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, and eggs. For severe deficiency one should consult medical professionals.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 55 mcg

Iodine:

  • Causes: This deficiency can be caused by insufficient intake of iodine in our diet, food items grown on iodine deficient soil, insufficient production of thyroid hormone. 
  • Symptoms:  Weakness, tiredness, fatigue, unexpected weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, feeling cold, swollen neck.
  • Associated Health Risk: Goitre, endemic goitre, cretinism, impaired growth and brain development, impaired metabolism, complications during pregnancy, heavy or irregular periods.
  • Remedies: Iodine deficiency syndrome can be prevented by consuming iodine rich foot item like seaweed, shrimp, fish, Cod, dairy products, whole grain. The dietary supplements are good for mild cases while medical supplements will be required for severe deficiency.
  • Adequate Intake (>19 Yrs.): 150 mcg

The importance of micronutrient is often overlooked in our society. We usually focusing in belly filling rather than offering healthy diet to our cell. Apart from staple diet we need these essential micronutrients in order to remain healthy. Micronutrient rich diet should be preferred and if not available than their supplements should be taken to make the right balance. However, fortified food items can be the substitute of stable diet which are poor in micronutrients. “Stay Healthy Stay Happy”.