Who can micro-nutrients help prevent and treat disease?
The first way is the elimination of a chronic deficiency. If the diet is low in an essential nutrients, body reserves become depleted. If the deficiency is sever, clear symptoms develop quickly over a period of weeks.
- For example, if vitamin C intake falls sharply, scurvy develops after several weeks. Gums begin to bleed, the skin becomes hyperkeratotic, rough, and dry and capillary hemorrhages appear in the skin.
- In contrast, marginal nutrient deficiencies only gradually impair cell metabolism, and the ill effects may be subtitle, becoming evident only after years of decade. Long-term, marginal intakes of vitamin c or selenium during adulthood, although not producing clear symptoms from day to day, may increase the risk of certain forms of cancer.
- The level of micro-nutrition adequate for day to day survival is often not sufficient for life long, optimum health. Specific and localized tissue deficiencies of vitamins may occur despite adequate levels in the blood and in many other tissues.
The second way a micro-nutrient can treat illness or help to prevent disease by enhancing healthy pathway of cell metabolism. Supplementing dietary calcium intake during adolescence and adulthood reduces turnover of bone and promotes mineral deposition into the skeleton. This can help maintain bone mineral density and greatly reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures in later life.
- Certain micro-nutrients – at levels of intake far greater than those in usual diets- develop beneficial new actions that are not apparent at lower doses. A good ezample is niacin.