Five Micronutrients You Might Be Deficient In
The human body requires major and minor nutrients in adequate quantities to function optimally. Many people manage to get enough of the macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat); however, some fail to meet the daily requirements of some very important micronutrients. The micronutrients are comprised of the vitamins and minerals that serve as biological catalysts, modulators, and activators within the body. Without them, many necessary physiological functions will be compromised. Here are five of the most common micronutrient deficiencies and how they can impact the human body.
This micronutrient is an important B vitamin. This water-soluble vitamin has two primary functions. It acts as a coenzyme in folic acid metabolism, serving as a methyl donor. This means that all energy-yielding pathways in the body need B12 in order to work. It is also involved in the maturation of red blood cells and has a role in neurotransmitter synthesis. The vitamin’s absorption from the intestine is dependent upon intrinsic factor and requires calcium.
A deficiency of the vitamin can lead to pernicious anemia, which is a disease defined by megaloblastic anemia, in which red blood cells grow larger than normal, and peripheral neuropathy results. Deficiency of vitamin B12 also causes degeneration of the myelin sheath on nerves. What causes the deficiency? Commonly, this is seen in patients suffering from gastric atrophy, or those taking prolonged proton pump inhibitors. Both of these factors can cause a deficiency of intrinsic factor or the inability to cleave vitamin B12 from the intrinsic factor.
Another B vitamin, its functions resemble those of B12. Folate plays s an important role in methylation reactions, red blood cell synthesis, and DNA synthesis. Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to megaloblastic anemia which may manifest as jaundice. It can also cause elevated homocysteine levels, mood disorders, as well as fatigue and lethargy. Its deficiency has also been found to be linked to deficient immune function and cardiovascular diseases. Common medical causes of folate deficiency include the use of methotrexate, anticonvulsants, and antacids. Oral contraceptives can also deplete the vitamin. Some individuals carry genetic mutations that prevent them from activating folate in their cells, which may lead to a secondary deficiency of adequate active folate.
This is the vitamin associated with healthy calcification and is primarily required for bone and teeth formation.Vitamin D has other important roles as well, including immune function, endocrine function, and a primary role in regulating mood. The most common reason for deficiency is lack of sufficient exposure to the sun. Deficiency of vitamin D causes rickets in children, stunted growth, and osteoporosis in adults. The deficiency has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes type 1 and 2, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and other systemic inflammatory disorders.
Magnesium is a mineral which holds prime importance in cellular metabolism. It is involved in more than 300 reactions and serves to support cellular activity, muscle contraction, bone development, and clotting of blood. A deficiency of the mineral may be caused by excessive intake of alcohol, use of diuretics, excessive sweating or hyperparathyroidism, chronic renal failure, and malabsorption syndromes. The deficiency initially causes general body weakness. This is followed by fatigue, irritability, mental confusion, and insomnia. The deficiency can also affect the heart and trigger irregular rhythms.
Calcium is the prime mineral required for mineralization of bones and teeth. This mineral is also needed for muscle contraction, nerve impulse conduction, and the clotting of blood. Deficiency of the mineral can manifest acutely as tetany and carpopedal spasm. Deficiency can also lead to osteoporosis as well as prolonged bleeding time, abnormal muscular contraction, and abnormal heart rhythms. It has also been linked to high risk of hypertension, colon cancer, and preeclampsia. The deficiency is most commonly caused due to insufficient intake of the mineral.
All of these deficiencies could aggravate serious problems and affect your health. The biggest problem is that most of them are clinically silent. They mimic other diseases so well that it is hard to distinguish the deficiency from the disease itself. How can you be sure that you have no deficiency?