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Each day our body generates new skin, repairs muscles and looks after the wear and tear of the bones. It circulates blood carrying nutrients and oxygen to even the tiniest parts of our body. Nerve signals are also sent constantly around the body in order to establish communication between our brain and body. Further, our body sends chemical elements that jump from one organ to another carrying important information that helps support our life.
In order to carry out all these functions, our body requires vitamins, minerals, and other dietary nourishment because it cannot manufacture these on its own. In particular, our body makes use of the minerals for carrying out critical tasks like – producing red blood cells, supporting bones and regulating metabolism.
These minerals are called essential minerals. They are categorized into two major groups –
● Major minerals are also known as macro minerals.
● Trace minerals are also known as microminerals.
Both of these types of minerals are equally important when it comes to having responsibilities for important tasks, but trace minerals are usually required in smaller amounts. The level of the amount needed is in no way indicative of their importance. Trace minerals hold an equal level of importance.
The question remains, where do these come from? These essential minerals are found in rocks, soil and water from which they are further absorbed by the plants or gets ingested in the animals who eat these plants. These essential minerals cannot be manufactured in our body and hence we need to acquire them through a diet containing plants or animals who have been fed with these plants.
Minerals are included in a variety of foods and not only whole foods. Even processed foods like cereals and cheese could be filled with some amount of these minerals. Also, oral supplements are available with these minerals in the form of tablets, powder and chewable pills.
Importance of Minerals In The Human Body
Minerals form the basic building blocks that are required for sufficient nutrition and a healthy body. Without the presence of minerals, no nutrient can carry on with their functions properly. Even amino acids and other enzymes don’t function as smoothly as they would if minerals were present. This causes the nutrients to not break down as efficiently as they should in order to get absorbed into the body. The end results lead to several diseases caused by minerals deficiencies.
What minerals do is, creates a healthy environment inside the body where vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates can carry out their functions in an efficient manner. Minerals are quite different from the structure of vitamins and the type of functions it carries out, but vitamins and minerals work really well in tandem and they enjoy a healthy relationship with each other.
Common Mineral Deficiencies
If we take a look at the last few decades, it would be safe to say that the mineral content in our diet has been changed to a large extent. We are now consuming way less authentic minerals than we used to several years ago. This decline started when man began to constantly plough the soil even in extreme weather erosions, this led to the soil losing its quality and being deficient in minerals.
Mineral deficiency can be defined as the reduced amount of any mineral in the human body. An extremely low level of mineral concentration can lead to impairment of a particular organ or process that is dependent on that mineral to function.
It is totally possible to have a deficiency of almost every nutrient. Young children, women, older people, and vegetarians are usually at a high risk of mineral deficiencies. The deficiencies list below is the most commonly found deficiencies around the world.
Iron deficiency is an evident illness as it causes symptoms of anaemia, constant tiredness, weakened immunity and affected cognitive functioning. It is especially common among women, children and vegetarians.
As one of the most common mineral deficiencies, iodine causes thyroid glands to expand. In extreme cases, iodine deficiency can lead to mental illnesses and serious brain development issues in children.
Calcium deficiency leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Consumption of low calcium content is a common occurrence amongst women and older adults and hence they are more prone to bone conditions.
A widespread condition in Western countries, low consumption of magnesium leads to varied health conditions and diseases.
Prevention of Mineral Deficiencies
Paying attention to consuming sufficient amounts of these essential nutrients through a balanced diet is the ideal way to stay safe from mineral deficiencies. The Required Dietary Allowances (RDA) lays down guidelines on food items to ensure that adequate amounts of minerals are present in them. Even over-the-counter oral supplements are a great way to raise up your intake amount if you are unable to acquire it from the diet.
Apart from the RDA, over-the-counter multivitamins also take care of including safe amounts of minerals in them because overconsumption of mineral amounts can also cause health issues. Also, taking oral supplements is not recommended if you do not face any evident deficiency.
Treatment of Mineral Deficiencies
Most often, mineral deficiencies can be efficiently treated by increasing the intake of mineral levels either through food or through supplements. This method won’t work only if the deficiency is caused by a disease and not by lower intake levels. In that case, treating the actual disease will prove beneficial.
Treatment of iron deficiency
Iron deficiency can be easily treated by taking oral supplementation or injecting iron into the body. Apart from that, Vitamin C can also help raise the absorption levels of iron in the body.
Treatment of iodine deficiency
Iodine deficiency can be successfully treated and further prevented by eating foods high in iodine content such as our normal household salt.
Treatment of magnesium deficiency
Following a diet filled with magnesium-rich food items is enough to reverse early signs of magnesium deficiency. If it is a severe case of deficiency that is going on for a long time, then it can be treated through magnesium sulphate injections.