Often the most frightening symptoms are traced to an imbalance of little-known minerals.
Together, minerals make up a mere four per cent of your body, but their role in its effective functioning is crucial. Girgaum based family physician, Dr Krishnakant Dhebri sees five patients with mineral deficiency every day (vegetarians are worse hit) defines essential minerals as “keystones to our health”. It’s a fitting label considering they help carry out crucial functions, and a deficiency leads to worrying symptoms. “A poor diet is often the key reason for mineral deficiency,” says Dhebri, adding, “Commonly, patients are found deficient in iron, iodine and calcium.”
The right diet plays a key role here since the body doesn’t produce minerals naturally, which means we must rely on what we eat to acquire them in the right quantity. A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, and seven hours of sleep are a must if your body is to be replenished adequately.
Juhu-based nutritionist Sheela Tanna, who sees 20 mineral deficient patients a week, draws a link to the environment, when she says, “Good soil is 45 per cent minerals, but our soils today are lacking due to the rampant use of fertilizers, chemicals, pesticides and mono-cropping.”
A guide from Dr Dhebri and Tanna on 11 crucial minerals and sources to acquire them:
Recommended daily allowance: 1,000 mg/day (women), 1,200 mg/day (men)
Function: Builds and maintains strong bones and teeth; helps with muscle function; controls cell function, communication and signalling.
Cause and effect: Low levels make you prone to osteoporosis and easy fracture. More of it leads to uneasiness, high BP, kidney and gall bladder stone. Sources: Almonds, figs, carrots, raisins, brown rice, garlic, dates, spinach, sesame, cashew, papaya, celery.
Recommended dietary allowance: 2,000 mg/day (men and women)
Function: Essential for nerve function, muscle contraction, maintaining BP and a healthy balance of water in blood and body tissues.
Cause and effect: Deficiency can cause anxiety, fatigue and decreased heart rate. Excess of potassium causes hypertension.
Sources: Oranges, bananas, peanuts, beans, coconut water, spinach.
Recommended dietary allowance: 70 mcg (men), 55 mcg (women)
Function: Helps in sperm formation, protects cells from damage and regulates thyroid function. Cuts risk of prostate, lung and colorectal cancer.
Cause and effect: A deficiency can cause muscle weakness, cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) and immune dysfunction.
Sources: Organ meats, tuna, crabs, grains, spices.
Recommended dietary allowance: 1,500 mg (men), 1,300 mg (women).
Function: Helps regulate water in blood and tissue.
Cause and effect: Low levels lead to fatigue, a feeling of indifference, mental confusion, nausea and muscle cramps.
Sources: Table salt, papad, lime juice and dairy products.
Recommended dietary allowance: 15 mg (men), 12 mg (women)
Function: Boosts immunity (especially against lower respiratory tract infection, cold and cough), reproduction and the nervous system. Useful in blood clotting.
Cause and effect: Deficiency leads to dermatitis, abnormal pregnancy and poor eyesight, abnormal sense of taste and smell.
Sources: Red meat, almonds, peanuts, chickpeas, soy foods, dairy products, mushrooms, liver and sunflower seeds.
Recommended daily allowance: 2,300 mg (women), 2,000 mg (men)
Function: Aids in nervous system, muscle function, balance of water in blood and body tissues.
Cause and effect: Abnormal levels can weaken muscles, cause irregular heartbeat and disturb kidney function.
Sources: Broccoli, potatoes (with skin on), orange juice, green leafy vegetables, bananas, tomatoes.
Recommended daily allowance: 2 to 6 mg (men and women)
Function: Aids in metabolism of iron, red blood cell formation and blood circulation. Helps in production of energy for cells.
Cause and effect: Low levels lead to blood circulation problem.
Sources: Mutton (goat liver), lobster, cashew, sunflower seeds, wheat bran, wholegrain products.
Recommended daily allowance: 4 mg/day (women), 3 mg/day (men)
Function: Prevents dental cavities.
Cause and effect: Deficiency leads to yellow teeth and cavities. Sources: Fluorinated water, teas, fish, and fluoride toothpaste and mouth wash.
Recommended daily allowance: 150 mcg/day (women), 1,100 microgram/day (men)
Function: Works to make thyroid hormones.
Cause and effect: Deficiency leads to goitre.
Sources: Iodised salt, seafood and seaweed.
Recommended daily allowance: 10-12 mg/day (men and women)
Function: To transport oxygen across the body via RBCs
Cause and effect: Low levels can lead to anaemia, weakness, change in colour of nails, depression, and inattentiveness. Excess iron gets deposited in the heart, causing cardiac trouble.
Sources: Green leafy vegetables, red meat, eggs, poultry and soya food.
Recommended daily allowance: 10-12 mg/day (men and women)
Function: Helps muscle and nerves function, steadies heart rhythm, maintains bone strength
Cause and effect: Low levels causes high BP and heart problem.
Sources: Chicken, mushroom, spinach, whole grain products, green leafy vegetables, almonds, black-eyed peas, avocado, banana, kiwi fruit and shrimp.
Disclaimer: The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) mentioned above is meant for adults between the ages of 19 to 50. Special cases (pregnant women, diabetics, hypertension and cardiac patients) should consult their doctors.
HOW SHE FIXED IT
Reminder of pale skin, brittle nails and hair, and bouts of constant fatigue, made Kandivli-resident Darshana Popat go for a complete blood test on a whim, two year ago. “There was definitely something wrong with the way my body was feeling,” says the 34-year-old, who was “always physically fit and active”.
A complete blood count suggested her haemoglobin was woefully low, calcium was borderline and B12 was negligible. Nutritionist, Sheela Tanna upped her fluid, fruit and veggie intake. Green peas (richest antioxidants), green leafy vegetables, coconut water, limewater and paneer became a staple. The stern vegetarian also introduced eggs (a rich source of Vitamin B12) into her meals.
Within a year, she noticed a change. “I feel fresh, my backache’s gone and I’ve graduated from brisk walking to running,” she says.