1. For the human body, copper is one of the most important substances, being an essential trace element. In the body, copper concentrates in bones, muscles, brain, blood, kidneys and liver. As a result, its deficit disrupts the normal work of the organism. In particular, the copper activates the iron, which is received with food and is accumulated in the liver. Without it, it is difficult or even impossible to convert iron into hemoglobin. Moreover, the copper stimulates the hematopoietic function of a bone marrow. It also performs a function of cells supplying with the substances necessary for normal metabolism. In particular, it transports the iron from the liver to other organs and tissues, keeping them, as well as the blood, in the normal state. In case there is a deficit of copper, the iron remains in the liver, taking almost no part in the hematopoietic process. As a result, despite having a sufficient amount of iron accumulated in the body, the patient develops an iron-deficiency anemia, namely a hypochromic type, when a bone marrow gradually loses its ability to use the iron for the synthesis of hemoglobin. In turn, the treatment of such disease with iron-containing drugs has little to no effect.
2. The older adults often suffer from poor calcium balance, which develops due to particular dietary and metabolic factors. It should be noted that calcium is not synthesized by a human body and must be consumed with food. However, in order for calcium to be fully internalized by the organism, vitamin D is required. In old age, such metabolic factor as vitamin D deficiency is common due to a low exposure to the ultraviolet rays. Moreover, it can be caused by an insufficient generation of a provitamin D in the skin, its reduced consumption with food and the age-related decrease in the amount of vitamin D receptors in the duodenum. In addition, with age, the ability to converse vitamin D into its active form is impaired. As a result, even if an older adult’s diet includes a sufficient amount of calcium, it is not internalized by the body. In addition, certain dietary factors may lead to the leaching of calcium from the body, namely the consumption of phosphoric acid. Most of it is contained in soft drinks, semolina and meat products. Phosphorus shifts the body’s acid-base balance to the acid side. In order to regain it, the organism provides extra calcium from its strategic reserves – the bones. In addition, poor calcium balance can be caused by the following dietary factors: overly strict diets, the intake of certain medications and smoking.
3. Free radicals are highly reactive particles in the human body, namely the unstable oxygen molecules that have unpaired electrons and tend to receive the missing electron from the full molecules, which become unstable themselves. The mechanism of their action is an aggressive oxidation, accompanied by damage to the cells of the body, especially cell membranes (the transmission of cell impulses becomes broken and cells lose their ability to “communicate” with each other), and disrupted flow of biochemical processes. As a result, the organism experiences the so-called oxidative stress, which cannot be cured by chemical medications.
Free radicals cause malignant changes in the human body, being the cause of many degenerative diseases. In particular, they cause a malignant degeneration of the connective tissues, which leads to arthritis. They damage the blood vessels (the oxidation of cholesterol stimulates its adhesion to vascular walls), resulting in atherosclerosis. They are the cause of the improper functioning of the organism systems, including the neural system and brain cells, thus, leading to Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases. Moreover, free radicals violate the DNA by provoking changes in the genetic information, thus, leading to an increased risk of the abovementioned degenerative diseases emergence in the children of a patient. Finally, they destabilize the function of the immune system and accelerate the aging process.
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4. Vitamin K is a general name for a few related substances, which are needed for normal blood clotting. Its deficiency develops under the following conditions. First of all, it is a hemorrhagic disease of the newborn (the fats and, therefore, the fat-soluble vitamin K does not pass through the placenta). There can also be an insufficient amount of it in the breast milk. The diseases that disrupt the fat absorption, such as cystic fibrosis and celiac disease, may contribute to the development of vitamin K deficiency in children and adults. The consumption of excessive amounts of oil also interferes with the absorption of vitamin K. Moreover, its deficiency can develop in people that receive anticoagulants to prevent blood clots.
5. Niacin belongs to a B group of vitamins being formerly known as vitamin B3. However, it has the following specific features that distinguish it from the other vitamins of the same group:
a) Among the other vitamins of B group, niacin has the highest resistance to the environmental factors. Only 15-20% of its overall amount is destroyed during cooking, it survives autoclaving and is not exposed to the destructive influence of sunlight, air and alkaline solutions. All the properties of niacin enable its use in clinical practice as sterile injectable solutions for parenteral (those avoiding the gastrointestinal tract) applications, namely during the treatment of atherosclerosis, hypercholesterolemia and for the normalization of the liver functions, kidneys and brain. Niacin is the only vitamin that is referred to as medicine, being often called the vitamin of tranquility.
b) Another difference of niacin from the other B group vitamins is in its partial source. In general, it is received with food, such as rice and wheat bran, liver and yeast. However, unlike the other vitamins of B group, niacin can be synthesized by the human organism from the essential amino acid named tryptophan, which is accumulated in animal protein in large quantities and, therefore is also received with food.
6. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the normal functioning of the nervous system, and is required for normal hematopoiesis (the formation and maturation of erythrocytes). In particular, its deficiency leads to a disruption of division and maturation of red blood cells and the development of macrocytic (megaloblastic) anemia. In addition, the lack of vitamin B12 results in the damage to the neural system, which is manifested in sensitivity disorders, increase of tendon reflexes and gait disturbance. The intake of folate results in the disappearance of all the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency (the megaloblastic anemia disappears within 24 hours), except for the neurological ones. Moreover, it should be noted that the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency by folate may worsen the patient’s condition by enhancing the neurological symptoms. Such situation is explained by the fact that in case of vitamin B12 deficiency, the intake of folate leads to a mobilization of the organism’s reserves of vitamin B12 for the reactions associated with it. As a result, the amount of vitamin B12 involved in the reactions ensuring the decomposition and synthesis of fatty acids, which play an important role in the normal functioning of the neural system is decreased.
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7. The deficiency of protein has an adverse effect on the entire organism, resulting in the violation of the production of enzymes and, thus, poor transport and storage of nutrients. In particular, it leads to the disrupted metabolism of phospholipids in cells and tissues. Since phospholipids are essential for the synthesis of choline, the lack of proteins leads to the development of choline deficiency. Moreover, protein deficiency manifests itself in a sharp decrease in the amount of calcium, which leads to the cessation of the growth of bones and changes in their chemical composition (the change in the ratio between calcium and phosphorus). In addition, the lack of protein leads to the suppression of thyroid function, as evidenced by the decrease in the absorption of iodine by the body, i.e. it is not stored by the organism. Finally, the deficiency of protein has impact on the transport and storage of magnesium, which carried by the blood in conjunction with albumins. The lack of protein means there are fewer albumins to bind and retain the excessive amount of magnesium. Thus, the micronutrient is left undigested and eventually passes into the urinary tract, which can induce the development of kidney stones or urolithiasis.