Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Deficiency Alert: Minerals Most Nigerians Need More Of

Last Updated on November 16, 2023


Minerals are essential for our bodies to function properly.

They support various bodily functions, including maintaining strong bones, transmitting nervous system signals, and producing essential enzymes.

With the wide range of nutritious foods available in Nigeria, it is expected that Nigerians would have adequate mineral intake.

However, several factors contribute to deficiencies in this region.

One reason for mineral deficiencies in Nigeria is the dietary shift towards more processed and less nutritious foods.

Traditional Nigerian dishes, such as pounded yam and egusi soup, are rich in essential minerals like iron and zinc.

However, the increasing consumption of fast food and refined grains leads to insufficient mineral intake.

Another contributing factor is the lack of awareness and education regarding the importance of minerals in a healthy diet.

Many Nigerians may not be fully aware of the specific minerals they need and the foods that provide them.

This lack of awareness hinders them from making informed choices to meet their mineral requirements.

Additionally, poor agricultural practices and soil depletion contribute to lower mineral content in crops.

Nutrient-depleted soil affects the overall quality of the produce, leading to deficiencies in the population that rely on these crops as their primary food source.

In essence, despite the abundance of Nigerian food rich in minerals, many Nigerians have deficiencies that require increased intake.

The shift towards processed foods, lack of awareness, and soil depletion all play a role in these deficiencies.

In the following section, we will explore the specific minerals Nigerians need more of and provide practical tips to overcome these deficiencies.

Overview of Common Mineral Deficiencies in Nigeria

Impact of mineral deficiencies on health

Minerals play a crucial role in maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. They are essential for various bodily functions, including growth, metabolism, and the proper functioning of organs and tissues. However, many Nigerians suffer from mineral deficiencies, which can have severe consequences for their health.

Mineral deficiencies can significantly impact overall health and lead to various health problems. For instance, an iron deficiency can result in anemia, causing weakness, fatigue, and impaired cognitive function. Calcium deficiency can weaken bones and teeth, increasing the risk of fractures and dental issues.

Statistics or evidence showcasing the prevalence of mineral deficiencies in Nigeria

Statistics and evidence highlight the alarming prevalence of mineral deficiencies in Nigeria.

According to a survey conducted by the Nigerian Ministry of Health, over 70% of Nigerians have inadequate iron levels, while 40% suffer from calcium deficiency.

These numbers reflect a widespread problem that demands urgent attention.


Among the main minerals that Nigerians often lack, iron takes the lead.

Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood.

Insufficient iron levels can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that affects millions of Nigerians, especially women and children.


Calcium is another mineral that Nigerians commonly lack.

Calcium is crucial for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

A deficiency in calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak bones and an increased likelihood of fractures.


Another significant mineral deficiency in Nigeria is iodine.

Iodine plays a vital role in the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and help maintain a healthy weight.

A deficiency in iodine can lead to thyroid disorders, including goiter and hypothyroidism.

Addressing these mineral deficiencies

Addressing these mineral deficiencies requires a multi-faceted approach.

First, awareness campaigns must highlight the importance of a balanced diet rich in minerals.

Education on nutrition and promoting the consumption of mineral-rich foods, such as leafy greens, dairy products, and seafood, can help combat deficiencies.

Furthermore, fortification programs can be implemented to enrich commonly consumed foods with essential minerals.

Adding iron and iodine to salt or fortifying flour with calcium can significantly improve the population’s mineral intake and combat deficiencies at a broader scale.

Regular screenings and access to affordable healthcare services are crucial to identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies early on.

Medical professionals should prioritize routine testing for mineral levels to detect deficiencies and provide appropriate treatment options, such as supplements or dietary modifications.

In fact, mineral deficiencies pose a significant problem in Nigeria, impacting the health and wellbeing of its population.

Iron, calcium, and iodine deficiencies are particularly prevalent and can have severe consequences.

It is imperative to promote awareness, implement fortification programs, and improve access to healthcare to combat these deficiencies effectively.

Read: Chromium: Its Role and Nigerian Food Sources

Iron: Importance, sources, and deficiency symptoms

Significance of Iron for the body

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the body’s overall health and well-being.

It is a key component of hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to various tissues and organs.

Iron also plays a crucial role in energy production, DNA synthesis, and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Without an adequate intake of iron, the body is unable to function optimally, leading to various health issues.

Nigerian food sources rich in Iron

Nigeria is blessed with a wide variety of foods that are naturally rich in iron.

Red meat, such as beef and lamb, is an excellent source of heme iron, which is more readily absorbed by the body.

Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, along with fish and seafood, also provide significant amounts of iron.

Plant-based sources of iron include beans, lentils, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, and nuts and seeds.

Incorporating these foods into the Nigerian diet can help meet the recommended daily iron intake.

Symptoms and health issues caused by Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency, also known as anemia, can lead to a range of symptoms and health problems.

Common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, pale skin, and difficulty concentrating.

Iron deficiency can compromise the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections.

Pregnant women with iron deficiency are at a higher risk of complications, such as preterm delivery or low birth weight.

Long-term iron deficiency can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, which requires medical intervention and treatment.

Tips or suggestions to increase Iron intake in the Nigerian diet

  1. Include iron-rich foods like lean red meat, poultry, fish, and plant-based sources in daily meals.

  2. Pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, bell peppers, or tomatoes to enhance iron absorption.

  3. Avoid consumption of tea or coffee with meals as they can hinder iron absorption.

  4. Consider cooking in cast-iron pots or pans, as they can increase the iron content of foods.

  5. Consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine if iron supplements are necessary.

With a diverse range of food sources available, Nigerians can easily incorporate iron-rich foods into their diet.

By understanding the importance of iron, identifying food sources, recognizing deficiency symptoms, and following helpful tips, individuals can ensure they meet their iron requirements for optimal health and wellbeing.

Read: Iron, Zinc, and Calcium: Must-Have Minerals in Nigerian Meals

Deficiency Alert: Minerals Most Nigerians Need More Of

Calcium: Importance, sources, and deficiency symptoms

Significance of Calcium for the body

Calcium is a vital mineral that plays a critical role in various physiological functions within the body.

It is most well-known for its importance in promoting the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth.

However, Calcium is also involved in muscle function, nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion.

Nigerian food sources rich in Calcium

Nigerians must ensure an adequate intake of Calcium to support overall bone health and prevent deficiencies.

There are several food sources rich in Calcium that are commonly consumed in Nigeria.

These include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt, which are all excellent sources of Calcium.

Additionally, leafy green vegetables like ugu, ewedu, and spinach, as well as sesame seeds, are also good sources of this essential mineral.

Symptoms and health issues caused by Calcium deficiency

When the body does not receive enough Calcium, it can lead to a deficiency with various symptoms and health issues.

One common health concern associated with Calcium deficiency is weakened bones, which can increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by low bone density and an increased susceptibility to fractures.

It is particularly prevalent in postmenopausal women and the elderly.

Tips or suggestions to increase Calcium intake in the Nigerian diet

To ensure sufficient Calcium intake in the Nigerian diet, it is important to incorporate Calcium-rich foods into daily meals.

Adding more milk, cheese, and yoghurt to the diet can provide a significant boost in Calcium levels.

Including Nigerian green vegetables like ugu, ewedu, and spinach in meals is also an effective way to increase Calcium intake.

Furthermore, incorporating sesame seeds into dishes or as a topping can provide an additional source of Calcium.

Apart from dietary changes, there are other strategies to increase Calcium absorption and utilization in the body.

Vitamin D is essential for proper Calcium absorption, so it is recommended to spend time in the sunlight or consider taking Vitamin D supplements.

Additionally, regular physical activity, particularly weight-bearing exercises like walking or jogging, can help maintain strong bones and enhance Calcium utilization.

In summary, Calcium is a vital mineral with multiple functions in the body.

Adequate intake of Calcium is crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth, muscle function, nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion.

Nigerians can obtain Calcium from various food sources, including dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and sesame seeds.

Recognizing the symptoms and health issues caused by Calcium deficiency is important to prevent complications such as weakened bones and osteoporosis.

Incorporating Calcium-rich foods and practicing a healthy lifestyle can help ensure optimal Calcium intake and overall bone health.

Read: Boosting Bone Health: Nigerian Foods Rich in Phosphorus

Iodine: Importance, sources, and deficiency symptoms

Significance of Iodine for the body

Iodine is a vital mineral that plays a crucial role in thyroid hormone production.

These hormones regulate growth, metabolism, and brain development.

Nigerian food sources rich in Iodine

  1. Seafood: Fish, shrimp, and seaweed are excellent sources of iodine.

  2. Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are also rich in this mineral.

  3. Eggs: Consuming eggs can provide a significant amount of iodine.

  4. Iodized salt: Using iodized salt in cooking and seasoning can boost iodine levels.

Symptoms and health issues caused by Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency can lead to various health problems, including:

  1. Goiter: Enlargement of the thyroid gland causes swelling in the neck.

  2. Hypothyroidism: Reduced thyroid hormone levels can cause fatigue, weight gain, and cognitive impairments.

  3. Intellectual disabilities: Insufficient iodine during pregnancy and early childhood can hinder brain development in infants.

Tips or suggestions to increase Iodine intake in the Nigerian diet

  1. Consume iodized salt: Always choose iodized salt over regular salt for cooking and seasoning.

  2. Include seafood in your diet: Regularly consume fish, shrimp, and seaweed to boost iodine levels.

  3. Eat dairy products: Add milk, cheese, and yogurt to your meals to increase iodine intake.

  4. Enjoy eggs: Incorporate eggs into your diet as they are a good source of iodine.

  5. Use iodine supplements: Consult a healthcare provider to determine if iodine supplements are necessary.

In a nutshell, Iodine is an essential mineral for the body, particularly for proper thyroid function and brain development.

Nigerians can find this mineral in seafood, dairy products, eggs, and by using iodized salt.

However, without sufficient iodine intake, individuals may experience goiter, hypothyroidism, and intellectual disabilities.

To improve iodine levels, it is recommended to include the mentioned food sources in the diet and consider iodine supplements under professional guidance.

Read: Benefits of Mineral-Rich Foods in Nigerian Diets


Nigerians often lack essential minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, which can have serious health implications.

These mineral deficiencies can lead to weak bones, anemia, immune system challenges, and impaired mental function.

Including foods like leafy greens, seafood, nuts, and whole grains can help combat these deficiencies and enhance overall health.

Remember, good nutrition is key to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Visit our blog for more helpful articles!

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