Do you have the minerals?: Dangers and Deficiency

in #health7 months ago

Essential minerals (dietary element) and vitamins are compounds that the body needs in small amounts for various functions such as growth, reproduction, and overall good health. They are called "essential" because the body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained through diet. Here are five essential minerals and five essential vitamins that are particularly important for humans:

Essential Minerals:

  1. Calcium:

Necessary for strong bones and teeth, muscle function, and heart health. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods are good sources.

Best Sources: Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli), fortified plant milks, fortified cereals, and fish with edible bones (sardines, canned salmon).

Absorption Tips: Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine or sodium, which can decrease absorption.

  1. Iron:

Crucial for blood production and transporting oxygen in the blood. Sources include red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, and fortified cereals.

Best Sources: Heme iron (more easily absorbed) is found in meat, poultry, and fish. Non-heme iron is in fortified cereals, lentils, beans, spinach, and tofu.

Absorption Tips: Vitamin C enhances iron absorption, especially non-heme iron from plant sources. Avoid consuming calcium or coffee/tea at the same time as they can inhibit absorption.

  1. Magnesium:

Important for muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and bone health. It's found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and leafy green vegetables.

Best Sources: Nuts (almonds, cashews), seeds (pumpkin, chia, flaxseed), whole grains, tofu, bananas, avocados, and dark chocolate.

Absorption Tips: Consuming protein can help improve magnesium absorption. High levels of dietary fiber can interfere with the absorption of magnesium.

  1. Potassium:

Essential for heart function, muscle contractions, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Sources include fruits like bananas, vegetables, legumes, dairy products, fish, and nuts.

Best Sources: Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit, cooked spinach and broccoli, potatoes (especially sweet potatoes), peas, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkins, and leafy greens.

Absorption Tips: Potassium is generally well absorbed from foods that are rich in this mineral, which is then regulated by the kidneys.

  1. Zinc:

Necessary for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, and thyroid function. It's found in meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, and dairy.

Best Sources: Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.

Absorption Tips: Zinc can be better absorbed with protein-rich meals. Phytates in legumes and grains can inhibit zinc absorption, so methods like soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains and legumes may improve absorption.

Essential Vitamins:

  1. Vitamin A:

Important for vision, immune system function, and reproduction. It also helps the heart, lungs, and kidneys work properly. Sources include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and dairy products.

Best Sources: Beef liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, black-eyed peas, salmon, and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Absorption Tips: Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so consuming it with a small amount of fat can improve absorption.

  1. Vitamin C:

Necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It's involved in many body functions, including the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Sources include citrus fruits, tomatoes, and green vegetables.

Best Sources: Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemons), strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes.

Absorption Tips: Vitamin C is water-soluble and easily absorbed. Consuming fresh, uncooked fruits or vegetables can maximize vitamin C intake, as it is sensitive to heat.

  1. Vitamin D:

Helps the body absorb calcium and is vital for bone health, immune system function, and disease prevention. It can be synthesized by the body when sunlight hits the skin, and is also found in fatty fish, fortified dairy, and cereal products.

Best Sources: Fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon), fish liver oils, fortified dairy products, cheese, egg yolks, and fortified plant milks.

Absorption Tips: Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so taking it with foods containing fat can aid absorption. Sunlight exposure also helps the body produce vitamin D.

  1. Vitamin B12:

Important for nerve tissue health, brain function, and the production of red blood cells. Found in animal products like meats, fish, and dairy, so supplementation may be necessary for those following a vegan diet.

Best Sources: Animal products (fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products). Fortified breakfast cereals are a particularly valuable source for vegetarians and vegans.

Absorption Tips: Older adults, people with anemia, vegans, and those with certain medical conditions may have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 and might need supplements or fortified foods.

  1. Vitamin E:

Acts as an antioxidant, helping protect the cells from damage, and is important for immune function, DNA repair, and other metabolic processes. Sources include nuts, seeds, spinach, and broccoli.

Best Sources: Vegetable oils (wheat germ, sunflower, safflower), nuts (almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts), seeds, green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals.

Absorption Tips: Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so consuming it with fat increases absorption.

While these are key essential minerals and vitamins, it's important to understand that the human body requires a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to function optimally. Deficiencies in any of these can lead to health problems. A balanced diet with a variety of foods can usually provide all the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for good health.

Deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals can lead to a range of health issues, from mild symptoms to severe, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Here are the deficiency symptoms for each of the essential vitamins and minerals mentioned, listed from mild to severe:


  1. Calcium:

    • Mild to Moderate: Cramps, muscle spasms, poor appetite, and numbness around the mouth or in the hands and feet.

    • Severe: Confusion, abnormal heart rhythms, and osteopenia or osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones).

  2. Iron:

    • Mild to Moderate: Fatigue, weakness, pale skin, cold hands and feet, headache, and light-headedness.

    • Severe: Iron-deficiency anemia, trouble breathing, chest pain, and increased susceptibility to infections.

  3. Magnesium:

    • Mild to Moderate: Nausea, vomiting, weakness, and loss of appetite.

    • Severe: Numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms.

  4. Potassium:

    • Mild to Moderate: Weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and constipation.

    • Severe: Serious arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), paralysis, and respiratory failure.

  5. Zinc:

    • Mild to Moderate: Loss of appetite, decreased sense of taste and smell, slow wound healing, and skin rashes.

    • Severe: Hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin lesions, and impaired immune function.


  1. Vitamin A:

    • Mild to Moderate: Impaired night vision, dry and scaly skin, and poor wound healing.

    • Severe: Complete blindness, immune system dysfunction, and in children, stunted growth.

  2. Vitamin C:

    • Mild to Moderate: Fatigue, malaise, and gum swelling/bleeding.

    • Severe: Scurvy, characterized by anemia, gum disease, skin hemorrhages, and in advanced cases, open, non-healing wounds and loss of teeth.

  3. Vitamin D:

    • Mild to Moderate: Bone pain and muscle weakness.

    • Severe: Rickets in children (leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities), and osteomalacia in adults (resulting in weak bones and muscles).

  4. Vitamin B12:

    • Mild to Moderate: Fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

    • Severe: Nerve problems like numbness and tingling, difficulty walking, mood changes, memory loss, and in extreme cases, megaloblastic anemia.

  5. Vitamin E:

    • Mild to Moderate: Difficulty in maintaining balance, and muscle weakness.

    • Severe: Peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, skeletal myopathy, retinopathy, and impairment of the immune response.

Complications from Multiple Deficiencies:

Having a deficiency in more than one of these essential vitamins or minerals can exacerbate symptoms and lead to more complex clinical scenarios. For example:

  • Combined deficiencies of vitamins and minerals that contribute to bone health (like calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium) can significantly increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

  • Simultaneous deficiencies of immune-supporting nutrients (like zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin A) can severely compromise the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections, prolonging healing times, and potentially worsening outcomes in diseases.

  • Multiple deficiencies often occur in conditions of overall malnutrition, which can lead to multi-organ failure and severe developmental problems in children.

It's important to note that while these symptoms and conditions are associated with deficiencies, they can also be caused by other medical conditions. It's crucial not to self-diagnose based on this information but rather seek guidance from a healthcare professional if you're experiencing health issues. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include dietary changes or supplementation.











Am I supposed to get all these minerals and vitamins from a can of sardines? :-|

did you read the blog?
sardines are a great place to start. Take the challenge, one sardine a day!

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