Effects of Lack of Vitamins and Minerals

Human body cannot synthesize most vitamins and minerals. You are supposed to provide these nutrients to your body through healthy diet. There has been an astounding rise in the sale of vitamin and mineral supplements over the last few decades. It is good that more and more people are becoming health conscious but it also suggests that more and more people are suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Either inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals through diet or inadequate absorption of vitamins and minerals in the digestive tract are the main causes of lack of vitamins and minerals in the body.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A and beta carotene, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cobalamin), C (ascorbic acid), D (ergo/cholecalciferol), E (tocopherol) and vitamin K (quinones) are the main vitamins required by the body. Vitamin C and all B vitamins should be present in the daily diet as they are water-soluble vitamins. They are flushed out of the body with excess water, at regular intervals. Our body stores the vitamins A, D, E and K in fat and so these vitamins are referred to as ‘fat soluble vitamins’. Calcium, iron, iodine, copper, sodium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc are some of the main minerals or electrolytes which are necessary for proper functioning of the body.
Aging naturally reduces the capacity of the intestines to absorb vitamins and minerals. Growing children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and elderly people may develop vitamin and mineral deficiencies. People suffering from various diseases, undergoing surgeries and therapies like chemotherapy, radiation may experience lack of vitamins and minerals due to impaired functions of various body systems. Excessive smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, following a severe diet can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Avoiding certain food items like milk, lack of exposure to sun can lead to calcium or D vitamin deficiencies. Vegans or vegetarians may suffer from B12 deficiency as this vitamin is mainly obtained from animal products. Following a wrong diet is one of the main causes of nutritional deficiencies.
Effects of Lack of Vitamins
Vitamin A
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Blurred vision, poor night vision
  • Frequent infections, especially upper respiratory infections
  • Frequent bone fractures
  • Damaged tooth enamel
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Outburst of acne, psoriasis
  • Dry hair, dry skin, brittle nails

Effects of Deficiency

  • Glaucoma
  • Measles
  • Heart diseases
  • Stroke
  • Partial or complete blindness
  • Thickening of skin
  • Corneal ulcerations
  • Stunted growth

Food Sources: Calf liver, Raw carrot, Cooked turnip greens, Fresh parsley, Red raw bell peppers, Boiled mustard greens, Sweet potato, Butter, Kale, Dry cayenne pepper, Boiled spinach, Steamed broccoli, Pumpkin, Cucumbers, Cheddar cheese, Cantaloupe melon, Eggs, Apricot, Papaya, Mango, Pea, Milk.
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men and boys over 10 years: 1000 mcg
  • Women and girls over 10 years: 800 mcg

Vitamin B1
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Low energy levels
  • Anorexia, indigestion, constipation
  • Severe leg cramps
  • Tingling sensation, numbness
  • Stunted growth in children

Effects of Deficiency

  • Damaged nerve
  • Circulatory problems
  • Weak muscles
  • Beriberi
  • Inflammation of heart
  • Heart failure and death

Food Sources: Berries, Green leafy vegetables, Organ meat, Legumes, Nuts, Pork, Wheat germ, Whole grain cereals, Husks of grains, Egg yolk, Yeast, Cornmeal
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 1.5 mg
  • Women: 1.1 mg

Vitamin B2
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Indigestion
  • Hair loss
  • Light sensitivity
  • Skin lesions near nose and mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Deficiency of other B vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc

Effects of Deficiency

  • Digestive system problems
  • Cataract
  • Anemia
  • Migraine
  • Rosacea
  • Vaginitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Food Sources: Dark green vegetables, Romaine lettuce, Mushrooms, Calf liver, Spinach, Chicken eggs, Fish, Grains, Lean meat, Legumes, Cow’s milk, Yogurt, Chard.
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 1.7 mg
  • Women: 1.3 mg

Vitamin B3
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Low energy level
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Skin irritation on exposure to sunlight, scaly skin
  • Lack of appetite, mouth ulcers
  • Mental confusion
  • Diarrhea, indigestion after intake of fat
  • Swollen tongue
  • Fluctuating blood sugar levels

Effects of Deficiency

  • Pellagra
  • Impaired brain function, Seizures
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Headache, insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea

Food Sources: Fish like salmon, halibut, tuna, Chicken breast, Asparagus, Peanuts, Whole grains, Crimini mushrooms, Nuts, Peanut butter, Brewer’s yeast.
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 19 mg
  • Women: 15 mg

Vitamin B5
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Low energy levels, fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Tingling in hands
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Burning/shooting pain in the feet, numbness

Effects of Deficiency

  • Adrenal gland dysfunction
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Affected bile function
  • Low blood count
  • Lethargy, lack of vigor

Food Sources: Beef, Eggs, Legumes, Mushrooms, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Turnip greens and Sunflower seeds.
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 4 mg – 7 mg
  • Women: 4 mg – 7 mg

Vitamin B6
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Scaly oily skin on face and scalp
  • Dizziness, weakness
  • Convulsions
  • Depression
  • Swollen tongue
  • Mouth ulcers

Effects of Deficiency

  • Development of kidney stones
  • Skin diseases and disorders
  • Anemia
  • Numbness in hands and feet

Food Sources: Avocados, Bananas, Fish, Meat, Garbanzo beans, Poultry, Spinach, Whole grains like wheat and corn
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 2.0 mg
  • 1.6 mg

Vitamin B7
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Indigestion, diarrhea
  • Dry, rough skin, skin infections
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Reduced appetite
  • Muscle pain

Effects of Deficiency

  • Severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels
  • Skin and hair problems
  • Damaged nerve, Numb fingers or limbs

Food Sources: Cheese, Nuts, Egg yolk, Green vegetables, Liver, Sunflower seeds, Sweet potatoes, Milk, Poultry
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 100 mcg
  • Women: 100 mcg

Vitamin B9
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Low blood count
  • Swollen tongue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Affects growth

Effects of Deficiency

  • Birth defects leading to brain disorders
  • Low birth weight
  • Megaloblastic anemia
  • Heart diseases

Food Sources: Citrus juice, Fortified grains and products, Legumes and seeds, Fresh soybean sprouts, Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.), Nuts
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 200 mcg
  • Women: 180 mcg

Vitamin B12
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Low hemoglobin
  • Mental confusion
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Weakness

Effects of Deficiency

  • Anemia
  • Nervous system damage
  • Irreversible nerve damage
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Stunted growth

Food Sources: Eggs, Microorganisms in fresh fruits and vegetables, Fish, Fortified breakfast cereal, Liver, Meat, Milk
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 2.0 mcg
  • Women: 2.0 mcg

Vitamin C
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Excessive weakness
  • Frequent infections
  • Affected overall health
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Delayed healing of wounds
  • Rough, dry skin
  • Vision problems

Effects of Deficiency

  • Scurvy leading to bleeding
  • Weak immune system
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weight loss
  • Sterility

Food Sources: Citrus fruits like lime, grapefruit, oranges, Black current, Guava, Melons, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage family vegetables, Dark green vegetables, Tomatoes, Potatoes
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men: 65 mg
  • Women: 75 mg

Vitamin D
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disorder
  • Muscle pain, fatigue
  • Weight loss, depression
  • Diarrhea, loss of appetite
  • Weak fragile bones
  • Weak immune system

Effects of Deficiency

  • Deficiency of calcium
  • Low phosphorus levels
  • Rickets in children
  • Various autoimmune diseases
  • Osteoporosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Defective teeth
  • Weak immune system

Food Sources: Ultraviolet rays of the sun (15 mins exposure daily), Fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines, Cod liver oil, Fortified milk and juice, Beef liver, Egg yolk
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Infants, children and adults up to 50 years of age : 200 IU
  • Adults 51 to 70 years old : 400 IU
  • Adults above 70 years old : 600 IU

Vitamin E
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weight loss
  • Delayed growth in infants, children
  • Muscle weakness
  • Neurological deficits in adults
  • Rough, dry skin
  • Thin, dry hair
  • Cognitive decline
  • Fast aging

Effects of Deficiency

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Increased chances of developing cancers
  • Sterility, miscarriages
  • Weak immune system
  • Increased chances of Parkinson’s disease
  • Aches and pains
  • Fragile red blood cells
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Liver problems
  • Bone marrow diseases
  • Affected brain function

Food Sources: Mustard greens, Turnip greens, Avocado, Peach, Papaya, Kiwi, Pumpkin, Swiss chard, Spinach, Chard, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pine nuts, Olive oil, Sunflower oil, Sardines, Herrings
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Children between 4 – 8 years : 10.5 IU
  • Adults and Pregnant women : 22.5 IU
  • Lactating women : 28.5 IU

Vitamin K
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Fragile bones in the elderly
  • Problem in clotting of blood
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Rough skin
  • Cognitive problems
  • Aches and pains

Effects of Deficiency

  • Impaired brain function
  • Affected nervous system function
  • Skin problems
  • Hair loss
  • Liver problems
  • Hemorrhaging and/or Anemia
  • Decreased bone mineral density

Food Sources: Broccoli, Spinach, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Tomato, Celery, Parsley, Swiss chard, Spinach, Kale, Asparagus, Fruits like Avocado, Kiwi, Cheese, Egg yolk, Liver, etc.
Recommended Daily Intake

  • Men : 80 mcg
  • Women : 70 mcg

Effects of Lack of Minerals
Calcium
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weak bones
  • Weak teeth
  • Abnormal blood pressure levels
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Digestion problems
  • Tingling and numbness in hands and feet

Effects of Deficiency

  • Affected overall health
  • Affected nerve and muscle functions
  • Stunted growth
  • Bone deformities

Food Sources: Grains, Yogurt, Cheese, Milk, Tofu, Spinach, Turnip greens, Mustard greens and Collard greens
Recommended Daily Intake

  • 0 – 12 months: 200 – 260 mg
  • 1 – 8 years: 700 – 1000 mg
  • 9 – 18 years: 1300 mg
  • 19 – 50 years: 1000 mg
  • Above 51 years: 1000 – 1200 mg

Iron
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Low hemoglobin
  • Excessive weakness
  • Frequent infections
  • Hair loss
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Brittle nails
  • Depression

Effects of Deficiency

  • Affected overall health
  • Anemia
  • Weak immune system
  • Low energy levels

Food Sources: Spinach, Thyme, Turmeric, Shellfish, Oysters, Figs, Celery, Lentils, Kidney beans, Walnuts
Recommended Daily Intake

  • 1 – 10 years: 7 – 10 mg
  • 10 – 19 years: 10 – 11 mg
  • Adult men: 8 – 10 mg
  • Adult women: 10 – 15 mg
  • Pregnant women: about 30 mg

Potassium
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weak muscles, fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Increased irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic diarrhea

Effects of Deficiency

  • Heart diseases
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Impaired function of the nervous system
  • Affected pH

Food Sources: Kale, Mustard greens, eggplant, Cantaloupe, Blackstrap molasses, Strawberries, Banana, Tuna, Ginger root
Recommended Daily Intake

  • 1 – 8 years: 3.5 – 3.8 g
  • 9 – 18 years: 4.5 g
  • Above 19 years: 4.7 g
  • Lactating women: about 5.1 g

Copper
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weak muscles, fatigue
  • Blood vessels rupturing easily
  • Hair loss
  • Skin sores
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Discoloration of skin
  • Frequent infections

Effects of Deficiency

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Deficiency of pigment melanin
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Nerve damage
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels

Food Sources: Calf liver, Crimini mushrooms, Spinach, Sesame seeds, Asparagus, Egg plant, Tofu, Walnuts, Pumpkin
Recommended Daily Intake

  • 1 – 8 years: 340 – 440 mcg
  • 9 – 13 years: 700 mcg
  • 14 – 18 years: 890 mcg
  • Above 19 years: 900 mcg
  • Pregnant women: 1000 mcg
  • Lactating women: 1300 mcg

Magnesium
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weak muscles, fatigue
  • Muscle cramps, spasms
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Abnormal blood sugar levels
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Irregular/high heart rate
  • Palpitations, tremor

Effects of Deficiency

  • Weak and soft bones
  • Blood circulation problems
  • Affected nerve function
  • Bone and joint problems due to weak muscles

Food Sources: Sunflower/Sesame/Flax/ Pumpkin seeds, Summer squash, Peppermint, Turnip greens, Halibut, Kale, Celery, Cucumber
Recommended Daily Intake

  • 1 – 8 years: 80 – 130 mg
  • 9 – 13 years: 240 mg
  • 14 – 18 years: 36 – 410 mg
  • Above 19 years: 310 – 400 mg

Sodium
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weak muscles, fatigue
  • Muscle cramps, spasms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Sickness and dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dehydration

Effects of Deficiency

  • Severe deficiency can lead to unconsciousness, shock, coma and can prove to be fatal

Food Sources:

  • Table salt
  • Processed foods
  • Salted, preserved foods and snacks

Recommended Daily Intake

  • 1-3 years: 1000 mg
  • 4-8 years: 1200 mg
  • 9-50 years: 1500 mg
  • 51-70 years: 1300 mg
  • Above 70: 1200 mg

Zinc
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weak muscles, fatigue
  • Affected sense of smell and taste
  • Mental/psychological problems
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Anorexia
  • Night blindness
  • Hypogonadism
  • Skin problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Joint pain

Effects of Deficiency

  • Affected enzyme functions
  • Weak immune system
  • Affected metabolism
  • Dwarfism
  • Destruction of nerve cells in brain
  • Weight loss

Food Sources: Whole grains, Meats, Fish, Dry fruits and nuts, Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Thyme, Basil, Asparagus, Miso
Recommended Daily Intake

  • 1 – 3 years: 3 mg
  • 4 – 8 years: 5 mg
  • 9 – 13 years: 8 mg
  • 14 – 18 years (men): 11 mg
  • 14 – 18 years (women): 9 mg
  • Above 19 (men): 11 mg
  • Above 19 (women): 8 mg
  • Pregnant and lactating women: 11-13 mg

Iodine
Symptoms of Deficiency

  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Mental/psychological problems
  • Depression

Effects of Deficiency

  • Goiter, enlarged thyroid
  • Weak immune system
  • Affected metabolism
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Affected overall health
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cretinism
  • Miscarriages

Food Sources: Sea vegetables, Yogurt, Cow milk, Cheese, Strawberries, Fortified foods
Recommended Daily Intake

  • 1 – 8 years: 90 mcg
  • 9 – 13 years: 120 mcg
  • Above 14 years: 150 mcg
  • Pregnant and lactating women: 220 – 290 mcg

Apart from the above list, there exist several other essential elements like chromium, fluoride, molybdenum, selenium, chloride, phosphorus; and fiber, amino acids, fat, carbohydrates, protein, etc. which are necessary for proper functioning of the body. Vitamins and minerals are also known as ‘micronutrients’. Excessive consumption of these micronutrients can lead to side effects and toxicity. Certain medications like diuretics and overuse of medications can affect the absorption or functions of vitamins and minerals in the body. Deficiency of one vitamin or mineral can affect absorption of another vitamin or mineral. Serious effects of lack of vitamins and minerals include heart failure, stroke, cancer, etc. I hope the article has helped you understand the significance of vitamins and minerals in the diet.

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