Monday, January 25th, 2021

Mineral Deficiencies Can Cause Fatigue, Low Mood

By Dr. Jenny Schmidt-White on Jan 24 2012 • Filed under Health

Tired all the time? It could be a mineral deficiency. (Photo: OBMonkey)Minerals are important in the functioning of all metabolic pathways and functions in the body. Busy lives, poor digestion, poor or uninformed food choices and many disease processes lead to mineral deficiencies. Four of the most common mineral deficiencies are zinc, selenium, magnesium, and iodine.

1. Zinc:

Zinc is an important mineral in supporting the immune system, collagen structures (skin and bones), and taste and smell. Zinc also affects the utilization of keratin (hair, nails) and is involved in balancing blood sugar.

An interesting note about zinc is that it competes with copper and the body requires a higher amount of zinc in ratio with copper for optimal functioning and disease prevention. In Vancouver, BC, people are often zinc deficient due to the large number of houses and apartments that have copper water pipes.Other causes of zinc deficiency include digestive malabsorption, diabetes and chronic illness.

Symptoms associated with zinc deficiency include:

  • Dry hair or hair loss
  • Frequent colds and flus
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Decreased ability to taste and smell accurately
  • Mental fog
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Sugar cravings

Foods containing zinc:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • mushrooms
  • whole grains
  • meat (lamb, beef)
  • seafood

Supplement recommendation – 25-50mg zinc citrate daily*

2. Selenium:

Selenium is required in small amounts but without it, the thyroid can’t make thyroid hormones, sperm and egg production is compromised, the liver can’t function, and mental focus lags. Deficiencies occur with smoking, drinking alcohol, birth control pills, and those with digestive absorption difficulties (e.g. Crohn’s, colitis).

Symptoms associated with selenium deficiency include:

  • poor thyroid function (hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, weight gain, low mood, memory loss, muscle aches)
  • reproductive disorders and infertility (male and female)
  • mental fatigue

Foods containing selenium:

  • brazil nuts
  • mushrooms
  • seafood
  • cheese and butter
  • meat (lamb, beef, chicken)

Supplement recommendation: 55mcg selenium as selenomethionine*

3. Magnesium:

Magnesium is a ubiquitous mineral in bones and muscles and your body uses a lot of it daily. Its main use (along with calcium) is in muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and bone integrity. Other important functions include aiding metabolism and aiding brain function. Deficiencies occur with poor diet, digestive disorders (e.g. Crohn’s disease, celiac disease), diabetes, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • muscle weakness
  • agitation
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • sugar cravings
  • nausea

Foods containing magnesium:

  • spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • molasses
  • pumpkin seeds
  • mustard greens

Supplement recommendation: 250-500mg magnesium citrate* (often found in a liquid with calcium citrate in a 2:1 ratio e.g. 500mg calcium citrate, 250mg magnesium citrate)

4. Iodine

Iodine is a mineral essential to thyroid function and creation of thyroid hormones (T3, T4). Iodine used to be consumed in adequate amounts in iodized table salt, but the decrease in salt in diets and the increased consumption of sea salts (which do not contain iodine) has contributed to an iodine deficiency.

Symptoms of iodine deficiency include:

  • hair loss
  • dry skin
  • fatigue
  • weight gain and inability to lose weight
  • low mood
  • memory loss

Foods containing iodine:

  • sea vegetables (especially kelp)
  • yogurt
  • cow’s milk
  • eggs
  • strawberries

Supplement recommendation: 1100mcg iodine* (often taken as Lugol’s iodine solution)

Most mineral imbalances can be corrected with dietary alterations.

* Before supplementing with any individual nutrient consult with a naturopathic physician to ensure safety and correct dosing, as mono-supplements can lead to imbalances in other nutrients in the body.

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