In my last few posts I have been discussing the macrominerals, their benefits and the potential negative symptoms of overdosing on any of the seven. In this article I will be looking at the other side of the coin and discussing 15 disadvantages of macromineral deficiency.
1) BLOOD PROBLEMS:- Being deficient in certain macrominerals can lead to a variety of blood related problems. Not getting enough calcium can lead to high blood pressure which ultimately causes damage to your blood vessels and vital organs. Failing to eat enough magnesium can reduce blood levels of calcium and potassium. Consuming low levels of phosphorus can cause anemia (a low red blood cell count) whilst not eating enough sulphur can cause problems with your circulation.
2) BONE PROBLEMS:- Consuming low levels of calcium, phosphorus or sulphur can lead to a selection of bone related problems. Calcium deficiency is linked with osteoporosis (a condition where your bone mineral density is reduced) and rickets (a condition where the bones become soft in young children) whilst not eating enough phosphorus can cause osteomalacia (a condition where your bones become soft and less rigid). On top of this a lack of sulphur in your diet can lead to arthritis (a condition where your joints become inflamed).
3) CONFUSION:- Not eating enough phosphorus, potassium or sodium can in some cases cause confusion. This makes it difficult to think clearly and perform normal physical functions.
4) HEARTBEAT INTERFERENCE:- Being deficient in magnesium or potassium can interfere with your heartbeats. Not getting enough magnesium causes your heart to beat more rapidly whilst not getting enough potassium leads to irregular heartbeats. Both kinds of heartbeat interference can cause damage to your heart if they do not return to normal levels in the long term.
5) HEADACHES:- Failing to eat the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sodium can lead to headaches. Whilst in most cases headaches are not dangerous they can be very unpleasant making it difficult to concentrate and get on with your daily routine.
6) MUSCLE DISCOMFORT:- Getting low levels of certain macrominerals can cause muscle discomfort ranging from the relatively mild (muscle twitching) to the more serious (muscle pain). Not eating enough calcium can cause your muscles to cramp whilst not eating enough chloride can cause them to twitch. Failing to consume enough potassium can cause muscle weakness whilst failing to consume adequate amounts of sodium can cause muscle twitching. In most cases these muscle discomforts do not pose a serious health risk but they be extremely uncomfortable and make it almost impossible to perform any type of exercise.
7) HAIR, NAIL AND SKIN PROBLEMS:- Sulphur is plays a key role in the health of your hair, nails and skin. Therefore, being deficient in this mineral can lead to a variety of problems in these areas which include poor hair and nail growth and other skin problems. Potassium deficiency can also have a negative impact on your skin causing it to become dry.
8) INFECTION:- Not eating the RDA of phosphorus can increase your susceptibility to infection. This can potentially be very damaging to your health if you contract a serious infection.
9) INCREASED INFLAMMATION:- Inflammation is your body’s initial response to infection, injury or irritation. It is characterised by pain, redness, stiffness and swelling. In most cases inflammation is a positive and necessary process as your body tries to protect itself and fix any damage. However, in certain cases inflammation is unnecessarily triggered by an external factor and instead of protecting the body it starts to cause damage to itself. One thing that can cause unnecessary inflammation is a sulphur deficiency. In the short term increased inflammation is extremely uncomfortable but if untreated it can cause irreversible damage.
10) NAUSEA:- Not getting enough magnesium or sodium can lead to nausea (a feeling of discomfort in the upper stomach with a strong urge to vomit). Whilst in most cases nausea is unpleasant and not harmful, if it leads to excessive vomiting it can cause you to lose other minerals from your stomach and become deficient.
11) NERVE DISORDERS:- Being deficient in sulphur can lead to a variety of nerve disorders which include nerve damage, numbness, pain and poor reflexes. A magnesium deficiency can also cause numbness and tingling.
12) POOR APPETITE:- Consuming low levels of phosphorus can have an adverse effect on your appetite. In the short term this is not a serious condition. However, if it continues for a long period a poor appetite can lead to other mineral and vitamin deficiencies as you will fail to get the RDA from your diet. It can also lead to a calorie deficit meaning which will cause you to lose weight and prevent your body from performing a number of essential functions.
13) THIRST:- Potassium is very important when it comes to maintaining fluid balance in the body so a deficiency can often lead to fluid related symptoms. One such symptom is an extreme, unquenchable thirst.
14) VOMITING:- Failing to consume enough magnesium or potassium can cause you to vomit. In most cases vomiting is unpleasant and does not cause any long term damage. However, it can cause other vitamins and minerals to be excreted from the stomach leading to further deficiencies.
15) LOSS OF ENERGY:- Being deficient in certain macrominerals can reduce your energy levels in various ways. Not getting enough chloride, magnesium or phosphorus can make you feel weak and lacking in energy whilst low levels of sodium can make you feel tired and lethargic. Whilst the above are not serious problems they can inhibit your performance and stop you functioning at your optimal level.
HOW CAN I AVOID MACROMINERAL DEFICIENCY?
Unlike macromineral overdoses, sometimes a deficiency is beyond your control. Diarrhea, vomiting and other health conditions can cause various nutrients to be removed from your body even if you are getting good amounts from your diet. Furthermore, certain health conditions and medications can inhibit your absorption of various macrominerals. The best way to avoid deficiency is to ensure that you consume the RDA for each and also to be aware of other possible factors that can cause a deficiency. Below I have listed the RDA for each macromineral and any other factors that can potentially cause a deficiency:
– Calcium:- RDA of between 1000mg-1200mg for adults. Deficiency is usually the result of low dietary consumptions.
– Chloride:- RDA of 750mg for adults. Deficiency can be caused by a variety of factors including diarrhea, low dietary consumption, sweating, surgery, vomiting and use of certain diuretics.
– Magnesium:- RDA of 300mg-400mg for adults. Deficiency is usually the result of low dietary consumption. However, it can also be caused by diarrhea, excessive loss of magnesium in the urine (caused by alcohol abuse, diabetes and kidney problems), problems with your digestive tract (which inhibits absorption) and vomiting.
– Phosphorus:- RDA of 700mg for adults. Deficiency is uncommon as phosphorus can be found in a wide variety of foods. However, it can be caused by alcohol abuse, diabetes, liver disease and other medical conditions that interfere with phosphorus absorption.
– Potassium:- RDA of 4700mg for adults. Deficiency is rare because potassium can be found in a wide selection of foods. However, it can be caused by consuming a high concentration of sodium compared with potassium, digestive problems (which inhibit absorption) and excessive fluid loss (caused by certain medications, diarrhea, sweating and vomiting).
– Sodium:- RDA of 1600mg for adults. Deficiency is uncommon as most modern diets contain too much sodium. However, it can be caused by certain diseases, certain medications, diarrhea, excessive sweating and vomiting
– Sulphur:- No RDA but most sources suggest a daily intake of between 800mg-1000mg. Deficiency is very rare and often only occurs in people following a low protein diet.
As you can see macromineral deficiencies cause a lot of the common ailments that we often just accept as part of our day to day lives. So next time you feel really thirsty perhaps it is not being caused by a lack of hydration but a lack of potassium. When you feel lethargic maybe you just need to eat some more chloride, magnesium or phosphorus. If you are feeling sick and nauseous maybe you are not actually ill but just need some magnesium or sodium.
Whilst a lot of macromineral deficiencies are rare you need to be aware of them to ensure you avoid them. Try and eat the RDA for each macromineral and if you have reason to believe you may be deficient as a result of the other factors discussed above then consult your doctor immediately. By doing this you can avoid all the negative symptoms discussed in this article and enjoy all the health benefits associated with the seven macrominerals.
Now I want to hear from you guys. Do you think you may have unknowingly been deficient in one or more macrominerals? Were you aware of all the deficiency symptoms discussed in this article. Leave a comment and let me know.