Common Mineral Deficiency Signs

Our Body Cannot Make Minerals, These Nutrients Must Be Consistantly Replaced

Thirteen minerals have been identified as being essential to the physical well-being of humans. These are: sodium, potassium, chlorine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, iodine, manganese, cobalt, zinc, and molybdenum.

Twelve additional elements have been determined to be extremely beneficial in trace amounts. These are: selenium, chromium, fluorine, arsenic, nickel, silicon, boron, cadmium, lithium, lead, tin, and vanadium.

Acne: Zinc, Sulfur
Anaemia: Iron, Cobalt, Copper, Selenium
Arthritis: Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Potassium, Boron
Asthma: Manganese, Zinc, Potassium
Brittle Nails: Iron, Zinc
Birth Defects: Zinc, Copper, Cobalt, Selenium, Magnesium, Manganese
Cancer: Selenium, Germanium
Candida: Zinc, selenium, Chromium
Cardiovascular Disease: Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Manganese

Chronic fatigue: Zinc, Selenium, Chromium, Vanadium
Constipation: Iron, Magnesium, Potassium
Cramps: Calcium, Sodium
Depression: Calcium, Sodium
Diabetes: Chromium, Vanadium, Zinc.
Digestive Problems: Chlorine, Chromium, Zinc
Eczema: Zinc
Edema: Potassium
Goitre (Low Thyroid): Iodine, Copper
Hair Loss: Copper, Zinc
Graying Hair: Copper
Hyperactivity: Chromium, Zinc, Magnesium, Lithium
Hypothermia: Magnesium
Immune System Weakness: Zinc, Selenium, Chromium
Impotence: Selenium, Zinc, Manganese, Calcium, Chromium
Infertility: Calcium, Zinc, Selenium, Chromium, Copper, Cobalt, Manganese
Liver Dysfunction: Cobalt, Selenium, Chromium, Zinc
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia): Chromium. Vanadium. Zinc
Memory Loss: Manganese
Muscular Weakness/Dystrophy (also Cystic Fibrosis): Selenium, Potassium, Manganese
Nervousness: Magnesium
Osteoporosis: Calcium, Magnesium, Boron
PMS: Zinc, Chromium, Selenium
Receding Gums (Periodontitis, Gingivitis): Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Boron
Sexual Dysfunction: Selenium, Zinc, Manganese
Wrinkles and Sagging (Facial/Aging): Copper

Please Note: This is not a diagnostic chart and should not be used in place of your health professional to determine your recovery program. After all, isolated minerals do not work well without a nutritional program which contains trace minerals in an appropriate balance.

How Body Uses Trace Elements

Minerals are necessary for normal metabolism, add mechanical strength to bones, are a component of enzymes and hormones, function as buffers, and regulate the balance and movement of fluids in and out of cells. Trace minerals are essential elements that occur in minute amounts, each one making up less than 0.005% of adult body weight.

Many enzymes are only produced in the presence of trace minerals. Minerals are the catalyst that make enzymes function. Trace minerals are an essential part of hormone structures and help regulate the hormonal activity of the entire endocrine system. Our bodies are dependent on these minerals for thousands of biochemical functions.

  1. Food, drugs, herbs and vitamins cannot function unless minerals are present in the body, making minerals more important in nutrition than vitamins.
  2. There is a harmony between vitamins and minerals - both are necessary. e.g. vitamin C can triple iron absorption. Calcium absorption is impossible without vitamin D.
  3. Minerals help generate and maintain electrical production in our bodies (e.g. for transmission of nerve impulses).

A small percentage of these elements are received directly from the air and sunlight. The remainder come from plants and animals which process minerals into a colloidal form that the human body can assimilate and use. Due to depleted soils these vital minerals, and especially the important trace minerals, have practically disappeared from the entire food chain.

Essential minerals

Dr. Carey A. Reams, biophysicist and biochemist, found that the human body requires 84 of the basic elements (out of the known 106 elements) to maintain good health.

Evidence reveals that cumulative deficiencies of minerals, especially the rare trace minerals, are the largest cause of physical problems and aging. Our grandparents had a much better, mineral-rich diet than you and your children do today.

Research has shown direct correlations between mineral deficiencies and illnesses. For example, diabetes or hypoglycaemia involve chromium, zinc, and vanadium deficiencies; cancer and heart disease involve selenium, copper, and more. Almost everyone knows that osteoporosis involves a calcium deficiency, but few know about the need for magnesium and boron as well. The list of correlations goes on and on.

Even marginal deficiencies of essential nutrients can significantly impair the immune system, and the National Research Council has stated that "small amounts of (natural elements) are more efficiently absorbed than large amounts".

Absorption, as used in a biological sense, is the transport of materials across a barrier and incorporation into the tissue itself. Not until the substances cross the thin cellular lining of the stomach and intestines and are picked up by the circulating blood and lymph, do the products of digestion become part of the body, that is, become "absorbed".

Absorption involves complex physical factors, such as the size and concentration of the molecules; water-salt concentration; surface tension; and active transport by the cells, which do chemical work and use energy in the process of transferring molecules across the cell membranes. The absorption of minerals (as well as other nutrients) is based on passive diffusion or active transport mechanisms.

Due in part to their negative ionization, the minuscule chemical complexes in colloidal mineral products have been proven to be among the most easily absorbed - and therefore the most immediately usable - forms of nutritional supplement. Dr. David R. Funk, a PhD., stated the following: “It is my personal and professional opinion that every single person in America today has multiple mineral deficiencies and would experience untold amounts of health benefits from taking plant source colloidal minerals over their entire lifetime.”


  1. Arsenic is essential in trace amounts. Arsenic deficiency depresses growth and impairs reproduction.
  2. Boron appears to affect calcium and magnesium metabolism and membrane function. It is essential for efficient absorbtion of calcium in the body and was found by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to significantly reduce the loss of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in post-menopausal women. It may also be helpful for ischemic heart disease and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Boron deficiency signs may be related to the level of vitamin D and possibly other nutrients in the diet. Deficiency Symptoms: Osteoporosis, Arthritis
  3. Calcium is an essential chemical element largely concerned with the structure and rigidity of bones and teeth; a small portion is involved in blood clotting, transmission of impulses from nerve to muscles, and regulation of the parathyroid gland. The 1% of the body's calcium circulating in body fluids maintains correct acid-alkaline balance and regulates the heartbeat amongst other vital functions.  Lack of calcium in the diet leads to a form of "leaching out" of bone mineral content (osteoporosis) and when vitamin D is also deficient, the condition known as rickets occurs.
  4. Chlorine (chloride) is essential in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance which in turn enables nutrients to pass into cells and waste products to pass out of cells. It is a necessary component of gastric juices required for digestion of protein and minerals. Deficiency of chlorine can cause hair and tooth loss, poor muscular contraction and impaired digestion.
  5. Chromium is required for normal glucose absorption. It appears to increase the effectiveness of insulin and its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. It may also be invloved in protein synthesis. It is best absorbed when taken in compounds (complexes). In the majority of all chromium supplementation studies in the United States, at least half the subjects with impaired glucose tolerance improved with the addition of chromium, suggesting that the lower ranges of chromium intake from typical U.S. diets are not optimal with regard to chromium nutrition.
  6. Cobalt is an integral part of vitamin B-12. Because all vitamin B-12 is derived from bacterial synthesis, organic cobalt is considered essential. Deficiency of cobalt may lead to pernicious anemia, retarded growth and nervous disorders. Vegetarians are particularly at risk of deficiency.
  7. Copper is an essential nutrient for all vertebrates. There are a number of copper-containing proteins and enzymes, some of which are essential for the proper utilization of iron. Copper is involved in respiration and is an important blood antioxidant. It is also involved in protein metabolism, healing processes, maintenance of hair colour, and formation of the myelin sheaths which protect nerve fibres.  Elevated cholesterol levels, impaired glucose tolerance, anemia and heart-related abnormalities have been observed in some subjects with below-average copper consumption.
  8. Fluorine (fluoride)  The major tissues known to incorporate fluoride are bones and tooth enamel. Fluorine appears to increase deposition of calcium, thereby strengthening teeth and bones. Levels in drinking water artifically fluoridated with sodium fluoride can often reach toxic levels which then has adverse effect on many enzyme systems in the body
    Just like so called toxic metals like aluminium, chrromium and arsenic are poisonous in the inorganic chemical form, but safe and even essential in their natural plant form.
  9. Gallium Modulates brain chemistry. Anti-tumour activity.
  10. Magnesium is important to calcium and potassium homeostasis. Numerous biochemical and physiological processes require or are modulated by magnesium, including energy production, protein synthesis, muscle contractions and vascular tone. Extracellular magnesium concentrations are critical to the maintenance of electrical potentials of nerve and muscle membranes and for transmission of impulses across neuromuscular junctions. Magnesium deficiency is common since this mineral is refined out of many foods during processing. Deficiencies have been associated with coronary heart disease, formation of clots in the heart and brain, calcium deposits in kidneys, blood vessels and heart, digestive disorders, depression and many other symptoms.
  11. Iodine is unevenly distributed in the environment. In large areas, often mountainous, environmental levels are inadequate for humans and animals. Iodine is especially important for the thyroid gland which regulates the body's production of energy and metabolic rate, and is involved in the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, in protein synthesis and in synthesis of cholesterol, which is the building block for hormones. Deficiency of iodine can result in goitre (enlarged thyroid) and hypothyroidism (which in turn leads to weight gain, dry skin and hair, sensitivity to cold, sluggish metabolism, slowed mental reactions and hardening of the arteries). Deficiency has also been linked to breast lumps.
  12. Iron is a constituent of haemoglobin, the component of blood which carries oxygen to every cell in the body; myoglobin, which supplies oxygen to muscle cells; and a number of enzymes. There are reports of reduced physical performance in iron deficiency even before anaemia is present. Iron deficiency also has been associated with decreased immune function.
  13. Lithium reduces aggressiveness, violence and self-destruction.
  14. Manganese is an antioxidant, activates numerous enzymes and has roles in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism. It is necessary for blood sugar regulation, healthy nerves and brain, sex hormone production, normal skeletal development, production of mother's milk and a healthy immune system.   Signs of deficiency include poor reproductive performance, growth retardation, congenital malformations in the offspring, abnormal formation of bone and cartilage, and impaired glucose tolerance. Manganese supplementation has been found useful in treating multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis and diabetes.
  15. Molybdenum plays an essential role in several enzymes including xanthine oxidase which aids in mobilising iron from liver reserves; aldehyde oxidase which is necessary for oxidation of fats and sulphite oxidase. It modulates metabolism of calcium, magnesium, copper and nitrogen and may also be an antioxidant. Deficiencies can result from excess sulphites (common preservative of foods and drugs) or from refining of foods. Consequences of molybdenum deficiency include retarded weight gain, poor appetite, impaired reproduction, fast heartbeat, increased rate of breathing, visual problems and shortened life expectancy.  
  16. Nickel is another element which has been shown by substantial evidence to be necessary in trace amounts. It is involved in hormone, lipid and membrane metabolism and cell membrane integrity and is an activator for some enzymes. Lowers requirement for vitamin B12. Nickel deficiency results in decreased growth, impaired liver function, changes in skin colour and reproductive problems.
  17. Phosphorus is an essential component of bone mineral and needs to be in correct balance with calcium for both of these minerals to be used effectively in the body. It also plays a role in almost every chemical reaction in the body. Phosphorus deficiency results in bone loss and is characterized by weakness, anorexia, malaise, and pain. Deficiency in the calcium-phosphorus balance may result in conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, pyorrhea, rickets and tooth decay.
  18. Potassium is an important electrolyte in the body which is intimately associated with sodium metabolism. In the correct ratio, sodium and potassium help regulate water balance within the body; are essential for the transport of nutrients into each cell and waste products out of each cell and help normalise the heartbeat. Deficiency of potassium may lead to nervous disorders, insomnia, constipation, slow irregular heartbeat and muscle damage. In severe potassium deficiency, muscle weakness and paralysis may develop, leading to difficulties in breathing and changes in the heart.
  19. Selenium is an antioxidant that works closely with vitamin E in actions like production of antibodies, binding of toxic metals like mercury, amino acid metabolism and promotion of normal body growth and fertility. Selenium protects the cell "machinery" that generates energy. It is also necessary for the production of prostaglandins, substances which affect blood pressure and plateIet aggregation. It protects all membranes, reduces risk of cancer, enhances immune system,  protects against heart disease. Deficiency of selenium has been associated with premature aging, heart attack, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, infertility and increased risk of cancer.
  20. Silicon also falls in the "trace requirement" category. It is needed for the connective tissues of the body such as tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, nails, skin and hair. It works with calcium to make strong bones so it is an important factor in osteoporosis and can help with faster mending of broken bones. It has been found helpful for preventing cardiovascular disease. It is probably best known as the "beauty mineral" for helping maintain strong, healthy nails, hair and skin. Silicon deficiency first shows as brittle or easily broken nails and dry, splitting hair, and can eventually lead to structural abnormalities of the long bones and the skull.
  21. Sodium is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in normal electrolyte metabolism. It works with potassium to equalise acid-alkaline balance of the blood and water balance in the body and well as transport of nutrients into and waste products out of body cells, muscle contraction and nerve stimulation. Sodium also keeps other minerals in the blood soluble so they will not build up as deposits in the bloodstream. It is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach for digestion of protein and minerals and helps in the elimination of carbon dioxide from the body. Excessive fatigue, muscle cramps and weakness, intestinal gas,  arthritis, rheumatism, neuralgia short attention span, and mental confusion can result from sodium deficiency.
  22. Tin supports hair growth and can enhance reflexes.  Deficiency symptoms include symmetrical baldness,
    reduced response to sound and loud noises and diminished haemoglobin synthesis.
  23. Vanadium is required for glucose tolerance factor, for proper development of bones, cartilage and teeth and for cellular metabolism. A deficiency may be linked to reproductive problems and kidney disease; supplementation with vanadium may assist with diabetes.
  24. Zinc is found in all tissues. Its functions include enhancing the immune system,  specifically the functions of the thymus gland and the spleen; involvement in the Krebs cycle and energy production; maintenance of healthy skin and taste buds; a component of insulin; a constituent of more than 2000 enzymes involved in digestion and metabolism including those for breakdown of alcohol, bone metabolism, protein digestion and phosphorus metabolism. Zinc can prevent toxaemia.  and protects against birth defects. Signs of dietary zinc deficiency include susceptibility to infections, stress and fatigue, loss of appetite, growth retardation (including dwarfism), delayed sexual maturity, skin changes including acne and stretch marks, prostate disorders and immunological abnormalities.
  25. Lanthanum, Praeseodymium, Neodymium, Thulium, Samarium, Europium, Ytterbium Enhance cell growth, Extend life. Deficiency may shorten lifespan

Deficiencies in trace intake of cadmium, lithium, tin, and vanadium may result in depressed growth, impaired reproductive performance, and other changes in the body.

It is important to emphasize that none of the experts who have provided this information suggests or advises that potential deficiencies in any of these elements be avoided, offset, or rectified by "massive" doses of supplements. In every case, their recommendation is for trace supplementation to balance the body's natural chemical production and/or intake.

Source documentation:

  • Burk, R.F "Biological activity of selenium" in American Review of Nutrition 1983
  • Fregley, M.J.  "Sodium & potassium" in Nutrition Review's Present Knowledge in Nutrition 5th Edition
  • Heaney R.P., J.C. Gallagher et al "Calcium nutrition and bone health" in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1982
  • Hertz, B.S. & G.F. Maberly "Iodine" in Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition, 5th Edition, edited by W. Mertz
  • Hurley, L.S. & C.L. Keen "Manganese" in Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition, edited by W. Mertz
  • Kirschmann, Gayla and John Kirschmann Nutrition Almanac 1996  McGraw-Hill
  • Lotz, M., E. Zisman et al "Evidence for phosphorus depletion in man" in New England Journal of Medicine 1968
  • Mills, C.F. (ed) Zinc in Human Biology International Life Sciences Institute, London
  • Nielsen, F.H. "Possible future implications of ultratrace elements in human disease and health" in  Essential and Toxic Trace Elements in
  • Human Health and Disease edited by A.S. Prasad
  • Rajagopalan, K.V.  "Molybdenum" in American Review of Nutrition 1988
  • Reiser, S. et al "Indices of copper status in humans" in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1985
  • Rossman, Isadore M.D. Ph.D. (ed) New Illustrated Medical Aid Encyclopedia 1990
  • Schroeder, H.A. "Chromium deficiency" in Journal of Nutrition 1966
  • Shils, M.E. "Magnesium in health and disease" in Annual Review of Nutrition 1988
  • Taves, D.R.  "Dietary intake of fluoride" in British Journal of Nutrition 1983
  • Viteri, F.E. & B. Torun "Anaemia and physical work capacity" in Clinical Haematology 1974
  • Winick, Myron M.D. (ed) The Columbia Encyclopedia of Nutrition  The Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeon

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