Deficiencies: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, Natural Treatments, and Medicine

Since vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are essential to every important process in the body, deficiencies in these nutrients can result in a wide variety of ailments — from subtly impairing to entirely disabling.  Some effort is required to identify these deficiencies, since symptoms vary according to the specific nutrients that are lacking in the diet of any given individual. Some of the more common, modern-day deficiencies are listed below.

Magnesium and Calcium – Few Americans ingest enough magnesium, a problem that, oddly enough, is complicated by public awareness of the need for calcium.  Consuming too much calcium causes the body to excrete magnesium, reducing this important mineral to dangerously low levels, and making supplementation of magnesium a necessity. In fact, the National Institutes of Health found that 2 out of 3 people are deficient in magnesium.

A balanced combination of calcium and magnesium is essential to optimal health. However, magnesium supplementation is often a problem for those who suffer from chronic conditions.  Since ingesting too much magnesium can produce a laxative effect, a magnesium supplement taken in a “sustained-release” form will act gently, over time, to keep the mineral within a healthy range — neither too much nor too little. 

Trace Minerals – Trace minerals including copper, chromium, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc are important factors in maintaining health across all systems, especially the immune system.  For those with heavy metal toxicity, zinc and selenium are even more important, as listed below.

  • Zinc – This mineral is critical for maintaining a healthy immune system and for producing neurotransmitters, but maintaining a normal level can be a challenge. People with toxic levels of mercury in their systems (from sources such as dental amalgam “silver” fillings) excrete excessive levels of zinc.  Those with heavy metal toxicity may benefit from a mineral supplement containing zinc.
  • Selenium – Of special interest is selenium’s role in protecting the body against heavy metal poisoning, since mercury toxicity is a matter of concern to many Americans. Therefore, a multi-mineral supplement containing selenium may be the safest way to boost selenium to a healthy level.

B Vitamins – B vitamins are a catalyst for many of the body’s important chemical reactions. A deficiency in any of these vitamins can cause normal body functions to break down and increase a person’s susceptibility to illness.  Supplementing B vitamins is relatively easy, although, as with many other nutrients, more is not always better.  Excessive quantities of B vitamins in the intestine may fuel an overgrowth of Candida.  A “sustained-release” B vitamin complex is best.  Also, it’s better to take a B vitamin complex, since the B’s work best together, rather than independently.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid), is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body.  The body needs vitamin C to make its most abundant protein, collagen.  Collagen is the cellular “glue” that holds the skin, blood vessels, arteries, muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments together.  This is especially important in the artery walls, which must expand and contract with each beat of the heart.

Deficiency of vitamin C is very common today, and according to the National Institutes of Health, too little vitamin C can lead to signs and symptoms of deficiency, including:  Dry and splitting hair, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), bleeding gums, rough, dry, scaly skin, decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising, nosebleeds, weakened tooth enamel, swollen and painful joints, anemia, decreased ability to fight infection, possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism.

Amino Acids – Amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins and are necessary for virtually everything in our bodies, including most hormones and all neurotransmitters.  Low levels of amino acids are closely associated with several chronic ailments.  In particular, people with Candida have been found to be deficient in nearly all amino acids.  Many Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients have low levels of L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine. L-tyrosine plays a key role in the production of thyroid hormone, so low levels of this amino acid may explain the prevalence of thyroid issues among chronically ill people.  Amino acids can be maintained at healthy levels with the use of well-balanced dietary supplements, but only while also striving to get enough high-quality protein in the diet.  

Additional Information about Deficiencies

  1. Common symptoms of deficiencies
  2. Common causes of deficiencies
  3. Natural and alternative treatments for deficiencies
  4. Dietary and lifestyle recommendations that may help in the treatment of deficiencies
  5. Conventional or prescription medications used in the treatment of deficiencies
  6. Additional Reading for deficiencies

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