What is a Nutrient Deficiency?
Your body requires many vitamins and minerals to function correctly. Some are produced naturally by the body and others must be obtained through a healthy diet. But when you aren’t able to supply these requirements to your body, you might start to experience mineral deficiency symptoms.
Nutritional deficiency happens when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients through diet and supplements. Left unchecked, nutrition deficiency can lead to larger health problems, such as issues with digestion, muscle spasms and cramps, bone fragility, skin disorders and more.
If you eat a healthy diet, it’s not as common to suffer the effects of nutrient deficiency. In fact, many foods are now fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, including milk, bread and cereals.
However, there are times when the body is unable to absorb these nutrients, thereby leading to a deficit.
So, what are the symptoms of nutrient deficiency? On this page, we break down some of the most common symptoms of mineral deficiency in humans. However, suffering from these symptoms doesn’t indicate a definitive deficiency. The only way to diagnose a deficiency is with particular blood tests.
What Causes Mineral Deficiencies?
Before we dive deeper into mineral deficiency symptoms, it’s vital to understand what causes them in the first place. The main cause of mineral deficiency is a lack of proper nutrition.
Eating a diet full of junk food is sure to lead to a deficiency. In addition, if a diet doesn’t include a variety of fruits and vegetables, it becomes difficult to get the nutrients that the body needs.
Low-calorie diets also lead to trouble — whether it is someone looking to lose weight or suffering from an eating disorder. This is why older adults who don’t have a strong appetite often have deficiencies.
Vegetarians, vegans and others with restrictive diets may also suffer from a mineral deficiency. And if you are lactose intolerant or have food allergies, it becomes more difficult to manage a healthy diet.
There are also conditions that cause trouble with digestion. If you suffer from one of these conditions, you may have difficulty absorbing enough of the nutrients your body needs:
- Disease of the gallbladder, kidneys, pancreas, intestines or liver
- Digestive tract surgery
- Chronic alcoholism
Some medications also interact with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. These medications include diuretics, laxatives, antibiotics and antacids. There are also certain times in life when more nutrients are needed. These occurrences may happen during pregnancy, lactation and menstruation for women.
Mild Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms
Mineral deficiency symptoms vary in severity from mild to severe. At first, you may notice more mild symptoms as your body becomes depleted of a particular nutrient. Additionally, it’s important to note that many of the common signs of nutrient deficiency may also be part of a larger health issue.
That’s why it’s vital to evaluate your diet anytime you encounter one of these symptoms. If you feel that it could be linked to a nutritional deficiency, it might be time to adjust what your eating and drinking.
Also, keep in mind mineral imbalance symptoms can often overlap. If you are missing magnesium, you may face some of the same symptoms as a person lacking proper calcium intake. That’s why you must focus on getting all of your nutrients and vitamins through proper dieting and supplementation.
And, because many trace mineral deficiency symptoms show up in the form of minor nuisances, they are also easy to ignore. Sure, some of them might interfere with your daily activities, but you might still be tempted to push through and look the other way. This is not an advisable option, as ignoring the minor symptoms could lead to a larger deficiency and put you in a more dire situation.
How to Determine Which Nutrients You’re Deficient In
There’s enough of a correlation between vitamins, minerals and overall health to show that we must pay attention to how much of each essential vitamin and mineral we’re getting.
However, determining you definitely have a mineral deficiency isn’t as simple as you may think.
Some people just assume it’s best to take vitamins to promote optimal nutrition, but there isn’t a clear-cut solution. In fact, people who eat healthy foods might not need to take supplements.
However, supplementation has a purpose, which is why you want to know the status of vitamin and mineral levels in your body. While looking at mineral metabolism disorders symptoms is a good place to start, it can’t answer all of your questions. You need to know which nutrients you’re lacking.
The best way to find out is with a vitamin and mineral deficiency blood test. These tests measure the exact amount of nutrients in your body to determine what you may need more of. Once you know that, you can move forward with the changes required to avoid common mineral deficiency symptoms.
How to Correct Mineral Deficiencies
Once you gain an idea of which minerals your body is lacking, it’s time to make some changes. Ideally, you want to get your nutrients from your diet. In general, many superfoods are jam-packed full of nutrients and minerals. Consider adding these foods to your day:
- Dark leafy greens
You can compare your daily intake of vitamins and minerals to the recommended amounts laid out by the Office of Dietary Supplements. If you are having trouble reaching these recommendations, you might prefer to add a high-quality supplement to ensure you reach the recommended daily intake.
However, supplementation isn’t right for everyone. If you have a pre-existing condition or are taking medication, you should speak with your doctor before starting any new regimen. With some vitamins and minerals, it is possible to take too much, which is why you must exercise caution.