Nutrient deficiency diseases occur when there is an absence of nutrients which are essential for growth and health. Lack of food leading to either malnutrition or starvation gives rise to these diseases. Another cause for a deficiency disease may be due to a structural or biological imbalance in the individual’s metabolic system.
There are more than 50 known nutrients in food. Nutrients enable body tissues to grow and maintain themselves. They contribute to the energy requirements of the individual organism and they regulate the processes of the body. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins provide the body with energy. The energy producing component of food is measured in calories. Aside from the water and fiber content of food, which are also important for their role in nutrition, the nutrients that serve functions other than energy production can be classified into four different groups: vitamins, fats, proteins, and minerals. All are necessary for proper body function and survival.
There are about 25 mineral elements in the body usually appearing in the form of simple salts. Those which appear in large amounts are called macro minerals while those that are in small or trace amounts are micro minerals. Some that are essential are calcium, phosphorous, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, sodium, chromium, and tin. Aluminum, lead, and mercury are not as essential.