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Mineral Levels disorder (Mineral Deficiency, Nutrient Deficiency) : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Mineral Levels disorder?


Mineral deficiency is a reduced level of any of the minerals essential to human health. An abnormally low mineral concentration is usually defined as a level that may impair a function dependent on that mineral.


Minerals are essential nutrients for every living cell in the human body. Defined in the study of human nutrition as all the inorganic elements or molecules required for life, minerals assist in body functions such as producing energy, growing, and healing. Minerals are required for fluid balance, blood and bone development, maintaining a healthy nervous system, and regulating muscles, including heart muscles. Minerals, like vitamins , function as coenzymes. They participate in all enzyme reactions in the body and help in the assimilation and use of vitamins and other nutrients.

Minerals occur either as bulk minerals (macrominerals) or trace minerals (microminerals). The body needs more bulk minerals than it does trace minerals, although both are essential for health. Minerals are consumed in food from plants and plant-eating animals. These sources of minerals develop in a sequence that takes millions of years, beginning with rock formation, the breakdown of rocks into mineral salts, and the assimilation of these salts into soil that nourishes edible plants.

Recommended daily allowances exist for a number of minerals, such as calcium. However, minimum daily requirements for some minerals such as boron, chromium, and molybdenum, do not exist. The essential bulk minerals include:

  • Calcium?essential for strong bones and teeth, healthy gums, and bone growth and mineral density in children. Calcium helps regulate the heart rate and nerve impulses, lower cholesterol, prevent atherosclerosis, develop muscles, and prevent muscle cramping. Calcium is an important component of blood clotting. Calcium and phosphorus are closely related minerals that should be balanced. About 99 percent of calcium and 85 percent of phosphate occur in the skeleton as crystals of calcium phosphate. Both nutrients occur in a variety of foods such as milk, eggs, and green, leafy vegetables. Calcium deficiency due to lack of dietary calcium occurs only rarely and is often due to vitamin D deficiency , because vitamin D is required for efficient absorption of dietary calcium. Significant depletion of calcium stores can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Magnesium?assists in the utilization of calcium and potassium, and functions in enzyme reactions to produce energy. Magnesium protects the lining of arteries and helps form bones. It helps prevent cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and some cancers. By acting with vitamin B 6 , magnesium can help prevent or dissolve calcium oxylate kidney stones, the most common kind of stones. Dietary magnesium deficiency is uncommon, but may occur in chronic alcoholics, persons taking diuretic drugs, and as a result of severe, prolonged diarrhea .
  • Sodium?sodium deficiency (hyponatremia) is a serious deficiency, arising most often after excessive losses of body fluid ( dehydration ) during prolonged and severe diarrhea or vomiting . Sodium and potassium are electrolytes that must be balanced in the body. Since most people get more than enough salt in the diet, potassium may be needed to balance it. Together, these minerals control fluid balance through a mechanism called "the sodium/potassium pump." Prolonged imbalances in sodium and potassium can contribute to heart disease.
  • Potassium?important for a healthy nervous system and a steady heart rate, helps to prevent stroke , and, with sodium, is critical in maintaining fluid balance. Potassium, an electrolyte, must be balanced with sodium. Potassium deficiency is usually associated with sodium deficiency and both are associated with dehydration stemming from excessive losses of body fluid.
  • Phosphorus?helps form bones and teeth, supports cell growth, and regulates heart muscle contraction and kidney function. Phosphorus converts food to energy and supports the utilization of vitamins. Deficiency is rare because phosphate is plentiful in plant and animal foods and is efficiently absorbed from the diet. Phosphorus is closely related to calcium and the two minerals should be in balance with each other and with magnesium. Deficiency in one will affect all and will ultimately have an unwanted effect on body function. Calcium and phosphorus are stored in the bones as crystals of calcium phosphate. Milk, eggs, and green, leafy vegetables are rich in calcium and phosphate.

Trace minerals essential for human health include:

  • Boron?required for healthy bones, brain function, alertness, and the metabolism of bulk minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Deficiencies are rare except in aging, when supplementation may help absorb calcium. A deficiency in boron is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Boron supplements can improve calcium levels as well as vitamin D levels, and can help prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women by promoting calcium absorption.
  • Chromium?required for maintaining energy levels. Chromium helps metabolize glucose and stabilize glucose levels. It helps the body manufacture and use cholesterol and protein.
  • Copper?helps form healthy bones, joints, and nerves as well as hemoglobin and red blood cells. Copper contributes to healing, energy production, taste, and hair and skin color. It is essential in forming collagen for healthy bones and connective tissue, and helps prevent osteoporosis. Except in osteoporosis, copper deficiency is rare, although dramatic changes in copper metabolism occur in two serious genetic diseases, Wilson disease and Menkes' disease.
  • Germanium?helps improve the delivery of oxygen to tissues and remove toxins and poisons from the body. Germanium gives garlic its natural antibiotic properties.
  • Iodine?helps promote healthy physical and mental development in children. Iodine is required for thyroid gland function and metabolizing fats. Iodine deficiency is a public health problem in parts of the world that have iodine-deficient soils. Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormone, which has a variety of roles in human embryo development. A deficiency during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Deficiency in adults can result in an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) in the neck.
  • Iron?critical in the production of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells, and myoglobin found in muscle tissue. Iron is essential for important enzyme reactions, growth, and maintaining a healthy immune system. In the blood, iron is found in larger amounts than any other mineral. Iron deficiency causes anemia (low hemoglobin and reduced numbers of red blood cells), which results in tiredness and shortness of breath because of poor oxygen delivery.
  • Manganese?essential for metabolizing fat and protein, regulating blood glucose, and supporting immune system and nervous system function. Manganese is necessary for normal bone growth and cartilage development. It is involved in reproductive functions and helps produce mother's milk. Along with B vitamins, manganese produces feelings of well-being. Deficiency can lead to convulsions, vision and hearing problems, muscle contractions, tooth-grinding and other problems in children; and atherosclerosis, heart disease, and hypertension in older adults.
  • Molybdenum?found in bones, kidneys, and liver. Only extremely small amounts are needed to metabolize nitrogen and promote proper cell function. Molybdenum is present in beans, peas, legumes, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables. A diet low in these foods can lead to mouth and gum problems and cancer.
  • Selenium?an important antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect the immune system, heart, and liver, and may help prevent tumor formation. Selenium deficiency occurs in regions of the world where soils are selenium-poor and low-selenium foods are produced. Premature infants are naturally low in selenium with no known serious effects.
  • Silicon?helps form bones and connective tissue, nails, skin, and hair. Silicon is important in preventing cardiovascular disease.
  • Sulfur?disinfects the blood and helps to rid the body of harmful bacteria and toxic substances.
  • Vanadium?vital to cell metabolism, and helps reduce cholesterol and form healthy bones and teeth. Vanadium functions in reproduction. Deficiencies may be associated with heart and kidney disease and reproductive disorders. Vanadium deficiency may be associated with infant mortality.
  • Zinc?important in the growth of reproductive organs and regulation of oil glands. Zinc is required for protein synthesis, immune system function, protection of the liver, collagen formation, and wound healing. A component of insulin and major body enzymes, zinc helps vitamin absorption, particularly vitamins A and E. Deficiency is rare.

Trace and bulk minerals are stored in muscles and bones and delivered to tissue cells through blood circulation. They work together synergistically and must be chemically balanced in the body; if one is deficient or out of balance, it can affect all the others, often resulting in illness. If zinc, for example, is present at high levels, calcium levels will be reduced because the two minerals compete for absorption. Similarly, too much calcium will deplete magnesium, and so on. Deficiency in one nutrient occurs less often than deficiency in several nutrients. A child suffering from malnutrition will likely be deficient in a variety of nutrients. Deficiencies in one nutrient do occur, however, such as in populations living in iodine-poor regions, and in iron deficient persons who lose excess iron by abnormal bleeding. All uncorrected mineral deficiencies can affect body functions, produce symptoms, and result in illness.

Types of mineral deficiency:

There are five main categories of mineral deficiency: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

Calcium deficiency

Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. It also supports proper function of your blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and hormones.

Natural sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and small fish with bones, beans, and peas. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Chinese cabbage also provide calcium. Some foods are also fortified with the mineral, including tofu, cereals, and juices.

A calcium deficiency produces few obvious symptoms in the short term. That?s because your body carefully regulates the amount of calcium in the blood. Lack of calcium over the long term can lead to decreased bone mineral density called osteopenia.

If left untreated, osteopenia can turn to osteoporosis. This increases the risk of bone fractures, especially in older adults.

Severe calcium deficiency is usually caused by medical problems or treatments, such as medications (like diuretics), surgery to remove the stomach, or kidney failure. Symptoms of a severe deficiency include:

  • cramping of the muscles
  • numbness
  • tingling in the fingers
  • fatigue
  • poor appetite
  • irregular heart rhythms

Iron deficiency

More than half of the iron in your body is in red blood cells. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to your tissues.

Iron is also a part of other proteins and enzymes that keep your body healthy. The best sources of iron are meat, poultry, or fish. Plant-based foods such as beans or lentils are also good sources.

Iron deficiency develops slowly and can cause anemia. It?s considered uncommon in the United States and in people with healthy diets. But, the World Health Organization estimated in a 2008 report that iron deficiency causes approximately half of all anemia cases worldwide.

The symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include feeling weak and tired. You may be performing poorly at work or school. Children may exhibit signs through slow social and cognitive development.

Magnesium deficiency

The body needs magnesium for hundreds of chemical reactions. These include responses that control blood glucose levels and blood pressure. Proper function of muscles and nerves, brain function, energy metabolism, and protein production are also controlled by magnesium.

Roughly 60 percent of the body?s magnesium resides in the bones while nearly 40 percent resides in muscle and soft tissue cells. Good sources of magnesium include:

  • legumes
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • whole grains
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach

Magnesium deficiency is uncommon in healthy people. The kidneys can keep magnesium from leaving the body through the urine. Still, certain medications and chronic health conditions like alcoholism may cause magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium needs are also highly influenced by the presence of disease. In this situation, the RDA for magnesium may not be sufficient for some individuals.

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Magnesium deficiency can lead to the following symptoms if left untreated:

  • numbness
  • tingling
  • muscle cramps
  • seizures
  • abnormal rhythms of the heart

Potassium deficiency

Potassium is a mineral that functions as an electrolyte. It?s required for muscle contraction, proper heart function, and the transmission of nerve signals. It?s also needed by a few enzymes, including one that helps your body turn carbohydrates into energy.

The best sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, avocado, dark leafy greens, beets, potatoes, and plums. Other good sources include orange juice and nuts.

The most common cause of potassium deficiency is excessive fluid loss. Examples can include extended vomiting, kidney disease, or the use of certain medications such as diuretics.

Symptoms of potassium deficiency include muscle cramping and weakness. Other symptoms show up as constipation, bloating, or abdominal pain caused by paralysis of the intestines.

Severe potassium deficiency can cause paralysis of the muscles or irregular heart rhythms that may lead to death.

Zinc deficiency

Zinc plays a role in many aspects of the body?s metabolism. These include:

  • protein synthesis
  • immune system function
  • wound healing
  • DNA synthesis

It?s also important for proper growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. Zinc is found in animal products like oysters, red meat, and poultry. Other good sources of zinc include:

  • beans
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • dairy products

Zinc deficiency can cause loss of appetite, taste, or smell. Decreased function of the immune system and slowed growth are other symptoms.

Mineral Levels disorder is also known as Mineral Deficiency, Nutrient Deficiency. Mineral Levels disorder belongs under the category of Metabolism disorders . Phosphorus deficiencies, Calcium deficiency, Iron deficiency, Magnesium deficiency, Potassium deficiency, Zinc deficiency, Boron deficiency, Chromium deficiency, Copper deficiency, Germanium deficiency, Iodine deficiency, and Selenium deficiency are some common types of Mineral Levels disorder. Generally Male, Female, Child are the victim of the Mineral Levels disorder. Seriousness of this disease is Low.

Symptoms of Mineral Levels disorder are :

  • poor concentration
  • tingling or numbness in the feet
  • tingling or numbness in the hands
  • irregular heart beat
  • decreased immune system
  • muscle cramps
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools or a frequent need to have a bowel movement. It usually lasts a few days and often disappears without any treatment. Diarrhea can be acute or chronic.

    Acute diarrhea occurs when the condition lasts for one to two days. You might experience diarrhea as a result of a viral or bacterial infection. Other times, it could be due to food poisoning.

    There?s even a condition known as traveler?s diarrhea, which happens when you have diarrhea after being exposed to bacteria or parasites while on vacation in a developing nation. Acute diarrhea is fairly common.

    Chronic diarrhea refers to diarrhea that lasts for at least four weeks. It?s usually the result of an intestinal disease or disorder, such as celiac disease or Crohn?s disease.

  • abdominal pain
  • Abdominal pain has many potential causes. The most common causes ? such as gas pains, indigestion or a pulled muscle ? usually aren't serious. Other conditions may require more-urgent medical attention.

    While the location and pattern of abdominal pain can provide important clues, its time course is particularly useful when determining its cause.

    Acute abdominal pain develops, and often resolves, over a few hours to a few days. Chronic abdominal pain may be intermittent, or episodic, meaning it may come and go. This type of pain may be present for weeks to months, or even years. Some conditions cause progressive pain, which steadily gets worse over time.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue is a constant state of tiredness, even when you?ve gotten your usual amount of sleep. This symptom develops over time and causes a drop in your physical, emotional, and psychological energy levels. You?re also more likely to feel unmotivated to participate in or do activities you normally enjoy.

    Some other signs of fatigue include feeling:

    • physically weaker than usual
    • tired, despite rest
    • as though you have less stamina or endurance than normal
    • mentally tired and moody

    Loss of appetite means you don?t have the same desire to eat as you used to. Signs of decreased appetite include not wanting to eat, unintentional weight loss, and not feeling hungry. The idea of eating food may make you feel nauseous, as if you might vomit after eating. Long-term loss of appetite is also known as anorexia, which can have a medical or psychological cause.

    It may be a warning sign from your body when you feel fatigue and loss of appetite together. Read on to see what conditions may cause these symptoms.

  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting, or throwing up, is a forceful discharge of stomach contents. It can be a one-time event linked to something that doesn?t settle right in the stomach. Recurrent vomiting may be caused by underlying medical conditions.

    Frequent vomiting may also lead to dehydration, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

  • Nausea
  • Nausea and vomiting are common signs and symptoms that can be caused by numerous conditions. Nausea and vomiting most often are due to viral gastroenteritis ? often mistakenly called stomach flu ? or the morning sickness of early pregnancy.

    Many medications can cause nausea and vomiting, as can general anesthesia for surgery. Rarely, nausea and vomiting may indicate a serious or even life-threatening problem.

  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Weakness

    Weakness is when strength is decreased and extra effort is needed to move a certain part of the body or the entire body. Weakness is due to loss of muscle strength. Weakness can be a big part of why cancer patients feel fatigue.


    Fatigue is an extreme feeling of tiredness or lack of energy, often described as being exhausted. Fatigue is something that lasts even when a person seems to be getting enough sleep. It can have many causes, including working too much, having disturbed sleep, stress and worry, not having enough physical activity, and going through an illness and its treatment.


    Mineral Levels disorder can be caused due to:

    Calcium and phosphorus deficiencies

    Calcium and phosphorus are plentiful in foods, and dietary deficiencies are rare. Vitamin D deficiency impairs the absorption of dietary calcium and can provoke calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia) even when adequate calcium is consumed. Vitamin D deficiency can be found among young infants and the elderly who may be shielded from sunshine for prolonged periods. As women age, reductions in the hormone estrogen can affect the rate of calcium loss. Significant depletion of calcium stores can lead to osteoporosis. Deficiency of calcium or imbalances with phosphorus and magnesium can produce muscle cramping and digestive problems. Symptoms of calcium deficiency include joint pain , brittle nails, eczema, high cholesterol , insomnia, high blood pressure, nervousness, and tooth decay . Calcium deficiency can also contribute to cognitive problems (confusion, inattention, learning, and memory), convulsions, depression, and hyperactivity. Phosphorus deficiency can produce anxiety .

    Sodium and potassium deficiencies

    Deficiency or imbalance in sodium and potassium does not usually result from a lack of these minerals in the diet, but from imbalances in body fluids. This can be caused by excessive losses of body fluid (dehydration) from severe diarrhea or vomiting; laxative abuse; or during treatment of heart disease or high blood pressure (hypertension) with diuretic drugs, which are used to reduce fluid overload. Sodium and potassium imbalances can cause cardiac arrhythmias and shock (a reduced flow of blood and oxygen to tissues throughout the body). Although diarrheal fluids deplete a number of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium), the main concern in avoiding shock is replacing sodium and water. Potassium deficiency alone can also affect nerve function.

    Magnesium deficiency

    Dietary magnesium deficiency is rare because the mineral is found in nearly all foods, but it can occur through poor diet or in malnutrition, or result from excessive losses due to severe diarrhea or vomiting. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include faulty transmission of nerve and muscle impulses, irritability, nervousness, and tantrums . Confusion, poor digestion, rapid or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), and seizures can also result. Magnesium deficiency is associated with cardiac arrest, asthma , chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome , and lung conditions.

    Boron deficiency

    Boron deficiency is rare, although reduced levels do occur with aging and with reduced levels of vitamin D. Because boron is involved in the absorption of calcium, the only symptom may be reduced levels of calcium or the inability to absorb supplemental calcium.

    Chromium deficiency

    Many Americans are deficient in dietary chromium, which can be associated with poor regulation of insulin and related imbalances in glucose (either diabetes or hypoglycemia ). Symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, poor protein metabolism, and glucose intolerance (as in diabetes). In adults, chromium deficiency can be a sign of coronary artery disease.

    Copper deficiency

    Copper is obtained through a balanced diet and deficiency is rare. Signs of copper deficiency may include anemia, diarrhea, weakness, poor respiratory function, baldness, skin sores, and increased lipid (fat) levels in the blood. Severe alterations in copper metabolism are seen in two rare genetic diseases: Wilson disease and Menkes' disease, which occur in about one in 100,000 births. Both diseases involve mutations in copper transport proteins, special channels that allow copper ions to pass through cell membranes. Menkes' disease, called the "kinky hair disease," results in tangled, grayish, steely, or kinky hair and chubby, rosy cheeks. Untreated Menkes' disease is associated with mental retardation and death before three years of age. Wilson disease involves decreases in copper in blood cells, the liver and brain; and increases in copper (copper toxicosis) in the cells of the intestines and kidneys. It results in degenerative changes in the brain, liver disease, and hemolytic anemia. Children older than five years who have any form of liver disease are often evaluated for serum and cellular copper levels to determine if Wilson disease is present.

    Germanium deficiency

    Germanium deficiency is rare; in fact, there is no established deficiency level.

    Iodine deficiency

    Iodine deficiency occurs when soil is iodine-poor and foods grown in the soil are correspondingly low in iodine. An iodine intake of 0.10?0.15 mg/day is considered to be nutritionally adequate. Iodine deficiency occurs when intake is below 0.05 mg/day. Goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland in the neck, results from iodine deficiency. Although goiter continues to be a problem in other parts of the world, it no longer occurs in the United States because of the fortification of foods with iodine. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in cretinism in newborns, involving mental retardation and a large tongue.

    Iron deficiency

    Iron deficiency occurs most often because of poor iron intake and poor absorption. In children, iron deficiency is due to periods of dietary deficiency and heavy demands for iron during rapid growth. Human milk and cow's milk both contain low levels of iron; however, the iron in human milk is in a highly absorbable form. Infants are at risk for acquiring iron deficiency because their rapid rate of growth needs a corresponding increased supply of dietary iron, for use in making blood and muscles. Cow's milk formula is fortified with iron. Human milk is a better source of iron than cow's milk, since about half of the iron in human breast milk is absorbed by the infant's digestive tract. In contrast, only 10 percent of the iron in cow's milk is absorbed by the infant. Toddlers who drink excessive whole cow's milk are at risk for iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can also be caused by excess phosphorus in the diet, chronic intestinal bleeding, poor digestion and absorption, prolonged illness, ulcers, and the use of antacids. In women and teenage girls, blood loss through menstruation can result in iron deficiency. Symptoms of iron deficiency include anemia and resulting fatigue and weakness, especially during physical exertion. Fragile bones, brittle hair and nails, hair loss, spoon-shaped fingernails or ridges from the base of the nails to the ends, difficulty swallowing, nervousness, paleness, and lagging mental responses are also possible iron deficiency symptoms.

    Manganese deficiency

    Deficiency of manganese is very rare. Experimental studies of individuals fed a manganese deficient diet have revealed that the deficiency produces a scaly, red rash on the skin of the upper torso.

    Selenium deficiency

    Selenium deficiency may occur in premature infants who naturally tend to have about one-third the selenium levels of full-term infants. It is not known if these lower levels result in adverse consequences. Selenium deficiency occurs in regions of the world containing low-selenium soils, including parts of China, New Zealand, and Finland. In Keshan Province, China, a condition (Keshan disease) occurs that results in deterioration of regions of the heart and the development of fibers in these areas. Keshan disease, which may be fatal, is thought to result from a combination of selenium deficiency and a virus.

    Zinc deficiency

    Zinc deficiency can be caused by diarrhea, liver and kidney disease, alcoholism , diabetes, malabsorption, and overconsumption of fiber. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include acne , recurrent colds and flu, loss of senses of taste and smell, poor night vision, slow growth, lack of sexual maturation, lack of pubic hair, and small stature. Studies have shown that signs of zinc deficiency are detectable after two to five weeks of consuming a zinc-free diet. Signs include a rash on the face, groin, hands and feet, and diarrhea. Administering zinc will correct these symptoms.

    Read more: http://www.healthofchildren.com/M/Mineral-Deficiency.html#ixzz6Qws1MC6m

    What kind of precaution should be taken in Mineral Levels disorder?

    Ensuring an adequate intake of essential nutrients through a balanced diet and supplements is the best way to prevent mineral deficiencies. The Required Dietary Allowances (RDA) guidelines can help ensure that minerals are being obtained. Safe amounts of certain minerals are often included in multivitamins. Because excess mineral levels can also cause health problems, taking excessive amounts of any mineral supplement is not advised unless a deficiency is diagnosed. When mineral deficiency is the result of disease, medical attention, other than preventive measures, is required.

    Nutritional concerns

    A balanced diet includes fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, whole grains (cereal, bread, rice, pasta, and other grains), eggs, dairy products, fish, fowl, and lean meat as preferred. A diet high in refined foods, prepared foods, sugars, and fats will not provide sufficient quantities of essential minerals. Water delivers nutrients throughout the body; it is essential to drink enough clean water daily to maintain fluid balance and distribute nutrients.

    How it can be spread?

    Does not spread

    Treatment for the Mineral Levels disorder


    Your healthcare provider may use one or more of the following diagnostic tools to determine if you have a mineral deficiency:

    • medical history, including symptoms and family history of diseases
    • physical exam
    • review of your diet and eating habits
    • routine blood tests, such as complete blood count (CBC) and a measurement of electrolytes (minerals) in the blood
    • other tests to identify other underlying conditions

    Individual minerals can be measured in blood serum, red blood cells, tissue cells, or urine, to estimate available levels and determine normal or abnormal status. Since each mineral performs strikingly different functions, tests to confirm deficiency are markedly different from each other. Testing can range from simple to extensive. Physicians will consider the possible consequences of each type of deficiency and evaluate the function of organ systems affected by the particular mineral.

    In addition to determining serum calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D levels, the diagnosis of calcium and phosphorus deficiency may involve taking x rays of the skeleton.

    Diagnosing iron deficiency will require measuring iron levels and investigating anemia by performing blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) to determine the number of red blood cells, hemoglobin level, red cell volume, and cell maturity (morphology). A stair-stepping test may be used to evaluate stamina, but a blood test is required to diagnose iron deficiency.

    Diagnosing low levels or imbalances of the electrolytes sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, or phosphate involves measuring the serum levels of each. Measurement determines the circulating blood level at the time blood was drawn. Laboratory values of sodium and potassium, which are present within cells and in the fluid between cells, can change rapidly depending on the individual's overall condition. They may be measured repeatedly to determine a trend and to monitor correction of the deficiency or imbalance after diagnosis.

    Normal serum magnesium levels are 1.2?2.0 mE/l, while levels in deficiency (hypomagnesemia) are below 0.8 mE/l. Because calcium and magnesium must remain balanced, magnesium levels below 0.5 mE/l can provoke a decline in serum calcium levels. Hypomagnesemia can also result in low serum potassium. Symptoms of hypomagnesemia, such as twitching and convulsions, may actually result from the hypocalcemia. Other symptoms, such as cardiac arrhythmias, actually occur because of low potassium. All three minerals will be measured.

    Iodine deficiency is diagnosed by measuring the concentration of iodine in urine. A urinary level greater than 0.05 mg iodine per gram of creatinine (another metabolite excreted in urine) indicates adequate iodine status. Levels under 0.025 mg iodine/gram creatinine indicate serious risk. The doctor may also examine the neck with the eyes and hands to see if a goiter is present.

    Urinary zinc levels will differ between normal dietary intake (16 mg per day) and low-zinc diets (0.3 mg per day); normal urinary zinc is about 0.45 mg per day while low-zinc urinary levels are about 0.150 mg per day. Plasma zinc levels tend to be maintained during a dietary deficiency in zinc. Plasma and urinary zinc levels can be influenced by a variety of factors, and for this reason cannot provide a clear picture of zinc status.

    Selenium can be measured in plasma or red blood cells and compared to normal values. The activity of an enzyme (glutathione peroxidase) in platelets (small blood cells essential in blood clotting) may be evaluated to assess selenium status.


    Most mineral deficiencies can be successfully treated through diet or supplementation, except when caused by disease, which requires treatment of the disease.

    Treating fluid imbalances and related deficiencies in sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate usually requires intravenous (IV) infusion of the deficient mineral in fluid over a period of time. Sudden changes in sodium and potassium levels can be just as dangerous as low levels; caution is used to restore balance gradually. Children may be given oral pediatric preparations to gradually restore fluids and minerals.

    Iron deficiency requires oral supplementation or injectable iron. Vitamin C helps to assimilate iron.

    Iodine deficiency is easily treated and prevented by consuming foods fortified with iodine, such as table salt. Goiter is reversible with treatment but cretinism is not.

    A magnesium-rich diet will correct magnesium deficiency. If deficiency is due to prolonged depletion, treatment may include injections of magnesium sulfate; if severe enough to provoke convulsions, intravenous infusions may be given.

    Selenium deficiency can be treated by supplementation. Children can be given supplements containing 1.0 mg sodium selenite.

    Zinc and copper deficiencies are rare and can be treated with supplementation.


    1 https://www.healthline.com/health/mineral-deficiency#2 2 http://www.healthofchildren.com/M/Mineral-Deficiency.html 3 https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/digestive_weight_loss_center/conditions/post_bariatric_surgery/vitamin_mineral_deficiency.html 4 https://ufhealth.org/mineral-metabolism-disorders 5 https://www.medindia.net/health_statistics/health_facts/vitamin-deficiency-facts.htm