Vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases were recognized and anecdotally treated as far back as ancient Greek and Roman times. But it was not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that scientists discovered vitamins and minerals and began to understand their functions in the human body. Today, vitamins and minerals are known for their roles as powerful substances that perform many tasks to maintain health and vitality. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are manifested by a variety of symptoms that should be treated by a qualified health provider before they develop into more serious health problems.
Abnormal Bone Development
Bone formation is a complex process with many micronutrient contributers. When these nutrients are not consumed or absorbed in sufficient amounts, weak and, in extreme cases, deformed bones can result. Calcium is the principal mineral found in bones and teeth and acts in concert with phosphorous to build bones. Deficiency of these minerals leads to soft bones that can in turn lead to osteoporosis if left untreated.
In extreme cases, deficiency of vitamin D in children leads to poor bone formation, called rickets, that can result in bone deformities. Vitamin D is responsible for calcium and phosphorus metabolism related to bone and tooth formation and regulates the body's absorption of calcium.
When vitamin C is not consumed or absorbed at sufficient levels, rough skin, poor wound healing and bleeding gums can result. Vitamin C is responsible for the synthesis of collagen, a principal component of skin tissue, and extreme deficiency cases are known as scurvy.
Riboflavin deficiency leads to skin problems as well, specifically around the nose and mouth areas. Niacin deficiency is known as pellagra, which manifests as flaky skin rash on areas of the body exposed to the sun. Slow or poor wound healing can be a sign of zinc deficiency.
Anemia is a medical condition in which the body experiences a reduction in the amount of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in hemoglobin. The most common cause of anemia is a lack of iron in the body, but the condition may involve deficiencies of additional nutrients involved in red blood cell formation and iron absorption. Anemia symptoms include a pale complexion and fatigue.
Deficiencies of iron and copper can lead to inadequate formation of hemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells. Low levels of vitamin B6, folate and vitamin B12 leads to poor formation of red blood cells. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to low absorption of iron, and vitamin E deficiency can cause anemia because the vitamin is needed to protect red blood cells.
- "Personal Nutrition," Sixth Edition; Marie Boyle and Sarah Long; 2007
- Congenital Cardiovascular Genetics: Glossary: Genetics