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Deficiency of Minerals
Calcium deficiency may lead to osteoporosis, which is a condition associated with a loss in bone density and bone mass and is primarily found in middle age and elderly women. Its major symptoms are increased vulnerability to bone fractures. Episodes of severe bone pain are usually due to fractures of the brittle bones and may occur after minimal trauma.
The principal clinical features are depression, muscular weakness, vertigo and liability to convulsions.
Iron deficiency anemia is widely prevalent among children, adolescent girls, and expectant and nursing mothers in all developing countries. The clinical features are the results of diminished oxygen carrying power of the blood due to low haemoglobin content. The symptoms are as follows - the skin may appear pale, fingernails can become thin and flat and spoon shaped nails called koilonychia may develop which is shown in the following picture.
Other symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness on exertion, dizziness, headache, dimness of vision, sleeplessness, parasthesia, (tingling sensation in arms and legs) and chest pain. In severe cases there may be some oedema of the ankles. There is tendency for children below 3 years with iron deficiency anemia to eat mud (Pica).
Recent World Health organization (WHO) statistics indicate a worldwide anemia prevalence of about 30% with higher rates in developing countries. In India, its incidence varies from 20-70% more among females than male affecting people from all walks of life. According to National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), anemia is most common in all the groups of adolescent girls to the tune of 20-25% irrespective of the social class.
As part of the National Nutritional anemia prophylaxis programme, iron and folate tablets are distributed to pregnant women and pre school children.
If sufficient iodine is not taken in the diet, enlargement of the thyroid takes place, resulting in the disease called goitre, which is shown in the following picture.
In children severe iodine deficiency may result in serious retardation of growth called cretinism. Iodine deficiency can be treated with administration of iodised salt in the diet. In India, the endemic belt of goiter and cretinism mainly lies along the slopes, foothills, and plains adjascent to Himalayas. Several pockets of endemic goitre are being identified in the Aravalli hills in Rajasthan, Subvindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh, Narmada valley in Gujarat, hilly areas of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and tea estates of Karnataka and Kerala.
One form of severe zinc deficiency is Acrodermatitis Enteropathica in which severe dermatitis usually appear in the first few months of an infants life.
Hypoguesia (impaired taste) and Hyposmia (impaired smell) appear in moderate zinc deficiency, which can be cured with zinc supplementation.
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