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Guest Post-8 Signs & Symptoms of Mineral Deficiencies

As many of you know from reading my story here and elsewhere I really struggle with mineral deficiency symptoms.  Lydia has shared some ways to know if these are issues for you too. She also includes few pointers on how to correct them as well.  I have learned a lot from Lydia and I know you will too. -PattyLA


Minerals are the spark plugs in the chemistry of life. The human body cannot make it’s own minerals, all minerals must be maintained within the body through adequate consumption. However, consumption alone is not enough, we must be able to actually digest and absorb them. Minerals are very difficult for the body to extract from food. It takes adequate stomach acid to pull the minerals from food, and we also need good fats to utilize them too. If the pH of the stomach is not acidic enough the minerals will pass right through the small intestine. Any undigested food in the stool shows you are likely not getting your minerals. We need good stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes to properly digest our minerals from food.

Mineral imbalance is epidemic these days. It can actually take the body several years to re-mineralize. Granted, the person is working to not only consume adequate minerals, but working to ensure they are digesting properly as well. GAPS is a great protocol to follow to help one do this very thing. Bone broth is an absolute must to get minerals in their most ionic absorbable form. Most minerals are only moderately absorbed even when digestion is optimal. So it’s really critical we pay attention to this aspect of our health and nutrition. Today I’d like to discuss just a handful of signs & symptoms that indicate different mineral deficiencies. This is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully can shed some light on symptoms we’ve either all faced or know someone that has.

Signs & Symptoms of Mineral Deficiencies

1. Cuts heal slowly and/or scar easily – this is a sign of zinc deficiency. Zinc is critical in wound healing. It’s also important to have zinc to help build the stomach acid you need in order to pull the minerals from your food to begin with.

2. Calf, foot or toe cramps at rest – (Okay, who hasn’t experienced this symptom from time to time?) This is a sign of calcium, magnesium or potassium deficiency. Remember we need adequate HCL and good fatty acids to absorb those minerals. So keep that in mind if you decide to supplement. In the meantime, enjoy more bone broth.

3. Lost vitality and sense of awareness or someone who ‘fakes’ their energy – This person is lacking in minerals and likely quite imbalanced. Remember minerals are the ‘spark plugs’ of life. Minerals act as cofactors for enzyme reactions. Enzymes do not work without minerals. Enzymes are your bodies work horses. In Chinese medicine enzymes are what give the body it’s ‘chi’.

4. Feet have a strong odor ( I have a child with this problem, and ooh boy!) This is a common sign of magnesium deficiency. Keep in mind every gram of sugar consumed uses up 54 of magnesium. This means most Americans are magnesium deficient. And that’s only one reason we have such and epidemic of magnesium deficiency. Thankfully, there are lots of great ways to get magnesium into the body, such as magnesium gel. This would be great to rub all over the feet and legs and whole body for that matter.

5. White spots on fingernails – this is very telling again of zinc deficiency. I’ve personally watched mine diminish over the past year, but still have some left. Remember it can take years to remineralize the body. If you do decide to supplement with zinc make sure you take it with an overall mineral supplement as other minerals support zinc. Liquid/ionic zinc is best as it is most easily absorbed. Of course you could always slurp down some raw oysters – that’s my favorite source of zinc!

6. Abnormal cravings for substances other than food, such as paper, dirt, clay, rubber as well as ice are indicative of an iron deficiency. These are signs of Pica, affecting mostly women and children. (my one son used to eat the cardboard baby board books when he was very little)

7. Yeast & Fungal Infections – often indicate low iron and zinc deficiencies, while the tissue copper levels are elevated. Excessive copper can produce an environment that encourages yeast and fungus to grow and proliferate. Chronic candida usually indicates high tissue copper levels.

8. Hypertension & Cardiac Arrhythmias – this is a common sign of potassium deficiency. Potassium plays a major role in the muscle contraction of the heart, as well as the heart beat, it’s also an important regulator of blood pressure.

There are a vast number of signs of mineral deficiencies to many to cover within this post. Suffice it to say, that to avoid deficiency one must work to get adequate minerals into the diet. Avoid processed foods at all costs, and purchase foods grown in good soil and organic. Consider working on your overall digestion either through a protocol like GAPS or with the help of a holistic practitioner of some sort.

For more on minerals, see the following posts I’ve written;

The Role of Minerals in the Body

Factors That Deplete Minerals From the Body

[Sources: Trace Elements and Other Essential Nutrients. David L. Watts, Signs & Symptoms Analysis from a Functional Perspective. Dicken Weatherby, N.D., Staying Health with Nutrition. Elson M. Haas, MD]


Lydia Lydia Joy Shatney is certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is a co-chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

Lydia offers specialized one-on-one counseling for those that are looking to transform their health through dietary advice (both food and supplements), learning cooking techniques, shopping guidance, as well as fitness inspiration and self-empowerment. These personal consultations are tailored to suit your specific needs and can be done over the phone, Skype or in person. Lydia will work with you in person locally or long distance across the globe. Lydia currently offer 3 & 6 month packages. In these packages you will receive phone consultations, email support, food journal evaluations, a thorough nutritional assessment, lots of handouts, supplement recommendations for your specific needs, information, recipes, tips, cooking ‘how to’s’ and more. Contact Lydia to sign up for your free initial consult call today!




  1. hi! i’m wondering what course of action to take if you have high copper tissue levels?


  2. Thank you for this post. You shared some really essential ideas on the topic. I also appreciate understanding that it can take a whole lot of time and eating the right way, or as best as one is able, to restore one’s mineral deficiencies or balance. Which means, not to give up.

  3. Heather,

    I’d try to avoid high copper foods for awhile, as well as find other sources of copper in your life, such as copper pipes, etc…And focus on zinc and iron rich foods as well as the nutrients that they work synergistcially with. Elevated tissue copper is common with hypothyroid – perhaps get your thyroid checked to assess further health issues. It’s also common in those with weak adrenals, so have those checked too. Medications can contribute to copper toxicity – It may be wise to work with someone to help you sort this all out.

    I know that Anne Louise Gittleman has done some excellent research on issues related to high tissue copper, I have not read this book in particular, but have read many of her other books and articles on the issue as well as listened to cds of her lectures;

    (that is an affiliate link)

    Hopefully that helps you a bit!

  4. So what do we do to replenish these mineral deficiencies like zinc? Cell salts maybe?

    • GAPS. You eat a nutrient dense diet and skip any food that isn’t nutrient dense. And be patient. And heal your gut so that you can actually absorb the nutrition that goes into your mouth. Simply avoiding bad foods isn’t enough. You need to eat loads of the right foods over the long term to fix mineral deficiencies.

  5. Very true! My adrenal fatigue zapped my minerals and I found that liquid ionic supplements to be a lifesaver on my path to healing and also gentle detoxification. I love the liquid mineral supplements by Mineralife. They are awesome! I noticed a huge difference in my energy in about 3 days.

  6. Wow! We all know that sugar is bad for us; but I had no idea that it depleted our magnesium levels so drastically! Magnesium is a key source of our energy. Thank you for that information!!

  7. Yikes! Having adequate intake and absorption of these trace minerals is really important. Do you feel that soil depletion is a significant factor? As you know, studies of organic produce don’t usually show that they have higher nutrient levels.

    And I’m a little leery of bone broth given the scary ways that animals are raised in this country. Do you know of a reliable source?

    • Hi Ron,
      Yes it is clear that soil depletion has had a profound effect on the nutrient status in various foods and the creatures who eat those foods. Independent studies of organic produce have shown higher nutrient levels. Studies funded by the conventional produce industry have not. There are also studies showing that the management of the soil has a big impact on nutrient levels so biodynamic produce is much higher in nutrients than big ag organic produce.
      As far as bone broth it will be better if it comes from pastured animals since they will have lower toxic loads and higher mineral levels than CAFO animals. If you can’t find local sources of pastured meats/bones I can recommend my affiliate partners USWellness Meats and Tropical Traditions. I shop with both of those companies regularly and their animal products are very high quality. In my book about Bone Broth, Broth: Elixir of Life, I discuss many of the benefits of bone broth and it’s unique nutritional components. I also explain many different methods for making broth and have a discussion of the pros and cons of each.
      US Wellness Meats also sells a ready made bone broth if you don’t want to make it yourself for some reason.

  8. If one is trying to restore their mineral balance in a quicker fashion, an enteric coated probiotic comes recommended. Get it from a pharmacy rather than a health store as it will likely be more reliable.


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