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Mineral deficiencies that affects Women's health

7 Mineral Deficiencies Women Should Look Out For

Food is a fuel that your body uses to produce energy and supply organs with nutrients that are essential for their functioning. That explains why doctors constantly remind us to stick to a well-balanced diet rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This doesn’t apply to menopausal women only. Girls and women of all ages should be mindful about what they eat! When your body is deficient in these nutrients, it is unable to function properly. In fact, one of the most common nutritional disorders is a mineral deficiency and in this article, you’ll see most common types of this nutritional disorder in women.

1. Potassium deficiency

Potassium is a mineral which plays a significant role in the normal functioning of your body. For example, it is an electrolyte that regulates the fluid and electrolyte balance in the cells of the body. Moreover, potassium aids in building healthy muscles, maintains the rhythm of the heart and regulates blood pressure.

Causes of potassium deficiency are numerous, including:

  • Certain issues during pregnancy triggered by an increase in blood volume
  • Excessive loss of fluids due to diarrhea, chronic vomiting
  • Insufficient food intake
  • Intake of diuretics or laxatives
  • Underlying health issues including kidney disease, thyroid problems, adrenal glands disorder etc.

When your body is deficient in this mineral, it lets you know through a wide array of symptoms, such as:

  • Bloating, constipation
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urine output
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Palpitation
  • Skin dryness

In the case of severe potassium deficiency, the doctor recommends a suitable treatment which usually revolves around potassium replacement therapy. If symptoms are mild, you should avoid long and strenuous physical activities. The best way to avoid potassium deficiency is to consume potassium-rich foods like bananas, tomatoes, oranges, peaches, cantaloupes, and so on.

2. Calcium deficiency

Calcium is responsible for bones and joints health

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and it is usually known for its tremendous impact on bone and joint health. The most common cause of calcium deficiency is the natural aging process since most of the calcium in the body is stored in your bones. Early stages of calcium deficiency may not show any sign at all, but as the problem progresses and becomes more severe, these symptoms may occur:

  • Brittle, weak nails
  • Depression
  • Easy fracturing of the bones
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness and tingling in face, hands, and feet
  • Slower hair growth

The treatment for calcium deficiency depends on its severity and underlying health conditions. What you can do is to change eating habits and make sure you consume recommended amounts of calcium on a daily basis. If the deficiency is more severe, you also have to consume calcium supplements. That said, it is entirely possible to get the recommended values of calcium through your diet. The richest sources of this mineral are:

  • Almonds
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cheese
  • Kale
  • Milk
  • Sardines (with bones)
  • Watercress
  • Yogurt or kefir

3. Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency causes anemia

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency anemia is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. It affects more people than any other condition, thus constituting a public health concern of epidemic proportions. According to some estimates, 30% of menstruating women may be deficient in this mineral due to monthly blood loss. About 42% of young, pregnant women may also suffer from this health issue. Just like with other forms of mineral deficiency, mild cases can go unnoticed. As the body becomes more deficient you may experience these symptoms:

  • Brittle nails
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Heavy periods
  • Inflammation of tongue
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances e.g. dirt, starch, ice• Weak appetite
  • Weakness

You may be required to take supplements to treat deficiency in this mineral if your condition is caused by some underlying health issue, then the doctor will recommend adequate treatment for that problem too. Of course, consuming foods abundant in this mineral would always ripe great health benefits of iron and you’ll find it in:

  • Beef liver
  • Black beans
  • Dark chocolate
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Lentils
  • Pistachios
  • Raisins
  • Sardines
  • Spinach
  • Spirulina

4. Magnesium deficiency

You already know that magnesium is essential for your health, but did you know it participates in more than 300 processes in your body? It is the eighth most abundant mineral on the planet and fourth most prevalent mineral in your body where every cell requires it to function normally. Higher intake of caffeine and alcohol and consumption of unhealthy, processed foods can all deplete levels of this mineral and induce various symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with deficiency of 4th most abundant mineral in your body are:

Magnesium is an essential for more than 300 biochemical reactions that takes place in our body
  • Anxiety, restlessness
  • Backache
  • Body odor
  • Chest tightness, difficulty breathing
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Osteoporosis

To avoid these unfortunate scenarios and potentially more severe health problems, you should avoid refined and heavily processed foods, consult your doctor about supplements, and increase intake of foods rich in this mineral, such as:

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Black beans
  • Chard
  • Dark chocolate
  • Figs
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Yogurt or kefir

5. Zinc deficiency

Even the mild deficiency of Zinc can still impair the immunity system

The WHO reports that the global prevalence of zinc deficiency is 31%, meaning that millions of people around the globe don’t have sufficient levels of this mineral in their body. Zinc is paramount for the body’s immune system and even the mild deficiency can still impair your immunity. The most common symptoms associated with zinc deficiency are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty concentrating, paying attention
  • Leaky gut
  • Slow wound healing
  • Thinning hair (in extreme cases)
  • Upset stomach
  • Weak immune system
  • Weaker sense of smell and taste

It is of huge importance to increase intake of foods that are rich in zinc and see your doctor if experience the symptoms mentioned above. Your doctor may advise taking supplements and give useful info to avoid becoming deficient in zinc again. As always, well-balanced diet that supplies your body with recommended daily value of this mineral is your best bet. Zinc-rich foods include:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chicken
  • Chickpeas
  • Grass-fed
  • beef
  • Kefir or yogurt
  • Kidney beans
  • LambMushrooms
  • Oatmeal
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach
  • Swiss cheese

6. Selenium deficiency

Just like with zinc, your body needs selenium for a healthy and strong immune system. Moreover, this mineral is also important for antioxidant activity that defends your body against free radical damage and inflammation. It is needless to mention you need sufficient amount of this mineral for a healthy metabolism. In most cases, people with digestive problems experience a deficiency in this mineral. Prevalence of this nutritional disorder isn’t as massive as with other minerals. How to recognize you’re deficient in this mineral? Deficiency is usually associated with these symptoms:

  • Brain fog
  • Discoloration of skin and nails
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Shedding a lot of hair
  • Weak immune system
  • Worsened asthma symptoms

In most cases, supplementation with this mineral is enough to restore its levels to a healthy range. Don’t go and buy a supplement on your own, make sure you discuss it with your doctor first. Also, increase consumption of these foods:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Herring
  • Liver from lamb or beef
  • Mushrooms
  • Rockfish
  • Salmon
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tuna
  • Turkey

7. Iodine deficiency

Iodine is needed for a healthy thyroid gland and metabolism

Iodine is paramount for a healthy thyroid gland and your metabolism at the same time. However, iodine deficiency is on the rise in the US. For example, 7% of pregnant women and about 17% of all reproductive-aged women are deficient in this mineral. Since your body doesn’t produce iodine, it relies on food you consume. Therefore, one of the primary causes of iodine deficiency is an inadequate intake of the mineral. Symptoms of iron deficiency are:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Mental retardation (in some cases)
  • Pregnancy-related problems
  • Skin problems e.g. dry skin
  • Thyroid enlargement (goiter)

According to the American Thyroid Association, there are no tests which would analyze whether you have enough iodine in your body. It is advised that pregnant and breastfeeding women take a multivitamin containing at least 150µg iodine per day. To combat iodine deficiency, you should also up the intake of the following:

  • Bananas
  • Cheese
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Green peas
  • Lima beans
  • Milk
  • Prunes
  • Seaweed
  • Tuna
  • Wild-caught cod
  • Yogurt

Conclusion

It’s always about what you eat, but also how much. While it is essential to take vitamins-minerals-for-clear-skin-complexion and improved overall health and wellbeing, it is also important to take sufficient amounts of nutrients. As seen throughout this article, insufficient levels of minerals can induce a wide array of symptoms ranging from thinner hair, hair loss, and skin problems, to weaker cognitive abilities and heart palpitations. Always make sure your diet delivers sufficient levels of these minerals.

​I am a Health Writer, Researcher, and Advisor with a passion for Men’s Health and Wellness, places a strong emphasis on Diet as well, believing that the Combination of Exercise, a Healthy Diet, and a Positive Mindset is the best way to achieve one's Full Potential. I write on most of the topics related to Healthcare, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, etc.

Brian Adam

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