The 26 Essential Vitamins and Minerals - Deficiencies and Toxicity
On this page we have outlined some of the problems that can occur if you don't get enough of the vitamins and minerals included in Huel in your daily diet or, in some cases, if you get too much of them by using supplements.
- Up to a quarter of the population has low levels of vitamin D in their blood according to UK government figures.
- Vitamin D has several important functions. For example, it helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.
- A lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets in children and weakness, aches and pains in adults where bones don't have enough calcium called osteomalacia.
- Vitamin K has several important functions. For example, it's needed for blood clotting, which means it helps wounds to heal properly. There is also some evidence to suggest it helps keep bones healthy.
- Not very much vitamin K is needed, so deficiencies are rare, but a healthy balanced diet necessary to ensure you have enough.
- Often seen as the most famous of the deficiencies, as a lack of vitamin C causes Scurvy.
- Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) is vital for the body, because it's needed to make collagen. Without vitamin C, collagen can't be replaced and the different types of tissue breakdown, leading to the symptoms of scurvy. These include:
- Appearance of red dots on the skin
- Bleeding and swelling of the gums
- Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2.
- It is important for keeping skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy, helping the body release energy from the food we eat.
- A deficiency of riboflavin can cause a sore throat, cheilosis (lesions on the lips), angular stomatitis (lesions on the angles of the mouth), glossitis (fissured and magenta-coloured tongue), corneal vascularisation, dyssebacia (red, scaly, greasy patches on the nose, eyelids, scrotum, and labia), and normocytic, normochromic anaemia.
- Niacin is also known as vitamin B3.
- Niacin is important for helping the body to release energy from the foods we eat, and helping to keep the nervous systems and skin healthy.
- Taking too much niacin for too long can cause liver damage.
- Vitamin B6 allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food, helping to form haemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.
- Thyroid UK notes that “without this vitamin the thyroid cannot utilise its iodine raw material efficiently to make the hormones. This vitamin is needed even more by an overactive thyroid. Muscle weakness is very common in people with an overactive thyroid and in those who are also lacking in B6.”
- Long term high doses of vitamin B6 can be toxic and may result in nerve damage that may eventually be irreversible.
- Folate, or folic acid, works with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells, whilst also helping to reduce the risk of central nervous system defects, such as spina bifida in unborn babies, which is why maintaining a healthy amount is important during pregnancy.
- A lack of folate can lead to folate deficiency anemia, which causes tiredness (caused by anaemia), weakness, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and weight loss. A deficiency of folate can also cause headaches, heart palpitations, a sore tongue and behavioural disorders.
- Choline may be a non-essential B vitamin, but it is important for cell membranes and for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which has a role in memory and muscle control.
- However, choline doses higher than the usual maximum recommended amount are associated with several negative effects including fishy body odor, increased perspiration and salivation, dizziness, vomiting and low blood pressure.
Sodium & Chloride
- Most chloride is gained from salt (sodium chloride), so deficiencies are rare. However, consuming too much salt is very common due to the abundance of salt in everyday food.
- Sodium and chloride are electrolytes required in small amounts to help keep the level of fluids in the body balanced. Chloride helps the body to digest food because it's an essential component of the fluids in the stomach and intestines.
- Having too much salt is linked to an increase in blood pressure (hypertension), which raises your risk of a stroke and heart attack.
- Calcium is the most abundent mineral in our body as it's the major constituent of bones and teeth.
- Calcium is also required for muscle contraction and short term deficiency can cause muscle cramps, stiffness and poor mobility.
- It's important to have a good calcium intake in the bone-building years which are as a baby and again from adolescence to about 30 years of age; especially important in females. Insufficient calcium during these periods can lead to brittle-bone disease (osteoporosis) when you're older where your bones break very easily. Post-menopausal women should also have a good calcium intake to help slow the rate of bone degeneration.
- Although calcium toxicity is rare, symptoms may include fatigue, depression, muscle weakness, kidney stones, constipation and spondylitis (rigidity and inflammation of the spine).
- Too much calcium can also limit iron absorption.
- Magnesium helps turn the food we eat into energy and helps to make sure the parathyroid glands, which produce hormones that are important for bone health, work normally.
- Taking high doses of magnesium for a short time can cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping.
- Longer term high supplemental intakes can cause drops in blood pressure, slowing down of the heart beat or erratic beating, or cardiac arrest. Can also cause muscle weakness and difficulty breathing, confusion, lethargy, affect balance or even coma and death.
- Iron is an essential mineral with several important roles in the body. For example, it helps to make red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body.
- A lack of iron can cause iron deficiency anaemia and is not uncommon even in the West.
- Too much can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children.
- Copper helps to produce red and white blood cells, and triggers the release of iron to form haemoglobin – the substance that carries oxygen around the body, and is thought to be important for infant growth, brain development, the immune system and strong bones
- Taking high doses of copper could cause: stomach pain, sickness, diarrhoea and damage to liver and kidneys, if taken for a long time.