Vitamins and minerals from natural sources are the key to a healthy body. The consequences of being deficient in any of the essential minerals can cause symptoms ranging from merely inconvenient to quite severe! These mineral deficiencies can often be caused by a poor diet (such as an ultra-low calorie diet)1 and even from eating unhealthy foods (such as red meat) which promote an acidic state in the body that can lead to mineral loss.
Natural, plant-source minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, are necessary for the maintenance of strong bones and teeth, proper blood vessel function, muscle and nerve health, and hormone health.2 Deficiencies in any of these minerals can cause significant problems to the body and mind. Those with diabetes often have a deficiency of chromium and zinc, while those with cancer and heart disease are often deficient in selenium and copper.3
A dietary calcium deficiency may gradually contribute to decreased bone mineral density. This condition, called osteopenia, can then turn into osteoporosis (brittle, fragile bones), increasing the risk of bone fractures.4 In addition, eating dairy products, once thought to be helpful for bone health, have now been proven to promote the risk of bone fractures.
Similarly, an iron deficiency may start slowly and evolve into anemia over time. Anemia is marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Those with anemia may feel weak or tired and may be slow to make decisions or problem solve.5 Iron deficiencies are also common in women when they are pregnant or on their menstrual cycle, so supplementing with plant-based iron during those times is especially recommended.
Up to 75% of Americans do not meet the recommended intake of magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can cause problems such as fatigue, weakness, and nausea. In the long term, these issues can advance to become numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, or abnormal heart rhythms.6
Potassium is another essential mineral that has a wide range of roles in the body. It helps regulate muscle contractions, maintains nerve function, and regulates fluid balance. Since it functions as an electrolyte, a deficiency in potassium may cause muscle cramping or weakness.
Zinc is required for metabolism and protein synthesis, but a deficiency can actually cause a loss of appetite, taste, or smell.7 Sufficient amounts of zinc are also necessary to maintain immune system health. Virally-infected individuals are especially susceptible to zinc deficiency.
Despite how scary some of these symptoms and conditions may sound, the good news is that you can start turning back mineral deficiencies by eating a diet with high levels of mineral-rich foods. The most recommended way to increase healthy mineral levels is to consume a healthy diet with a variety of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, legumes, and plant-based proteins. To add spice to your diet, be sure to choose a high-quality, pure mineral-rich salt.
Consuming a wide range of plant-based foods will start boosting your mineral levels naturally. In addition, plant-based mineral supplements are also available that can help to restore mineral levels. Be sure to select a mineral supplement that is based on whole-food plant sources, rather than rock-source minerals. As always, ensure that you purchase your selections from a trusted, reputable company with high quality standards. Now you can keep your mineral levels high so you can enjoy your own best health for a lifetime.
- Day, Jo Ann. “Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency: The Johns Hopkins Digestive Weight Loss Center.” Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency: The Johns Hopkins Digestive Weight Loss Center, 3 May 2017, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/digestive_weight_loss_center/conditions/post_bariatric_surgery/vitamin_mineral_deficiency.html.
- “Minerals: Their Functions and Sources.” Minerals: Their Functions and Sources | Michigan Medicine, 2019, www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/ta3912.
- “Minerals - Deficiency Signs, Causes, Risk Groups and Natural Treatment.” Ecosh Life, 30 Apr. 2020, ecosh.com/minerals-deficiency-signs-causes-risk-groups-and-natural-treatment/.
- “Office of Dietary Supplements - Calcium.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/.
- “Iron Deficiency Anemia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Oct. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355034.
- Milanowski, Ann. “Feeling Fatigued? Could It Be Magnesium Deficiency? (And If So, What to Do About It!).” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 15 May 2019, health.clevelandclinic.org/feeling-fatigued-could-it-be-magnesium-deficiency-and-if-so-what-to-do-about-it/.
- “Office of Dietary Supplements - Zinc.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/.