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The term mineral deficiency means a condition where the concentration of any one of the minerals essential to human health is abnormally low in the body. In some cases, an abnormally low mineral concentration is defined as that which leads to an impairment in a function dependent on the mineral. The mineral nutrients are defined as all the inorganic elements or inorganic molecules that are required for life. As far as human nutrition is concerned, the inorganic nutrients include water, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphate, sulfate, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine, selenium, and molybdenum. We do not need to eat sulfate, since the body can acquire all the sulfate it needs from protein. There is some evidence that other inorganic nutrients, such as chromium and boron, play a part in human health, but their role is not well established. established.


Laboratory studies with animals have revealed that severe deficiencies in any one of the inorganic nutrients can result in very specific symptoms, and finally in death, due to the failure of functions associated with that nutrient. In humans, deficiency in one nutrient may occur less often than deficiency in several nutrients. Deficiencies in one nutrient do occur, for example, in human populations living in iodine-poor regions of the world, and in iron deficient persons who lose excess iron by abnormal bleeding. Inorganic nutrients have a great variety of functions in the body. Water, sodium, and potassium deficiencies are most closely associated with abnormal nerve action and cardiac arrhythmias.