Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients that promote overall health, growth and development. Vitamins and minerals also ensure that various chemical reactions are able to take place in the body. If you do not consume enough of the specific types of vitamins and minerals for an extended period of time, you can develop any one of several diseases.
Iron-deficiency anemia is one of the most common medical conditions caused by a nutritional deficiency. Iron-deficiency anemia is characterized by a lack of healthy red blood cells due to inadequate amounts of iron in the body. If you lack red blood cells, your tissues do not receive enough oxygen. This can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness. Iron-deficiency anemia can be caused by low dietary intake or loss of blood. Mild to moderate cases of iron-deficiency anemia can be corrected with increased intake of dietary iron or oral supplementation. Severe cases might require blood transfusions. To prevent iron-deficiency anemia, adult men should consume 8 mg of iron daily, and adult women should consume 15 mg of iron every day.
Throughout your lifetime, your body constantly breaks down old bone and regenerates new bone in its place. The minerals calcium and phosphorus and fat-soluble vitamin D are all essential for the formation of strong bones. Calcium and phosphorus combine to form hydroxyapatite, which provides the structure and strength of your bones and teeth. Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus by stimulating the absorption of the minerals in your intestinal tract and maintaining a normal range of the minerals in your bloodstream. If you are deficient in any of these vitamins and minerals, your body will be able to regenerate bone, but the newly created bone will not be strong. This leads to the development of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak, brittle bones that are prone to breakage.
To prevent the development of osteoporosis, it is important to consume adequate amounts of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus every day. Adults should consume 5 to 15 mcg of vitamin D, 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium and 700 mg of phosphorus daily.
Inadequate amounts of water-soluble B-vitamin niacin in the diet can lead to a disease called pellagra, which is characterized by inflammation of the skin, rashes, loss of memory, confusion and diarrhea. Untreated pellagra can lead to death. In the 1900s, pellagra was widespread across the United States. The introduction of fortified grains, which are the most significant dietary source of niacin in the diet, decreased the prevalence of pellagra in the United States. MayoClinic.com notes that pellagra still occurs among individuals with a very poor diet or those who abuse alcohol.
To avoid the development of pellagra, women should consume 14 mg of niacin, and men should consume 16 mg of niacin every day.
Macrocytic anemia is another type of anemia that can be caused by inadequate amounts of vitamin B12 or folate. Both of these water-soluble B-vitamins are necessary for the proper synthesis of red blood cells. Without adequate amounts, the body can make red blood cells, but they are too large and unable to function properly. As a result, the body becomes deprived of oxygen.
To prevent macrocytic anemia, adults should consume 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 and 400 mcg of folate every day.
- "Nutrition and You"; Joan Salge Blake; 2008
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: What is Iron-Deficiency Anemia?
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium