Poor nutrition has been associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Human nutrition requires both macronutrients, the main source of calories, as well as micronutrients, the 40 essential minerals, vitamins and other biochemical products, which are required for almost all metabolic and developmental processes.
Energy-rich foods are rich in carbohydrates and fats, but deficient in micronutrients, so they are energy dense and low in nutritional value. Due to the fact that such foods are cheaper and usually delicious, they are consumed in excess, especially by the poor.
This results in insufficient intake of certain vitamins and minerals, and reduced consumption of micronutrients is often accompanied by excess calories and can contribute to pathology associated with obesity.
When consumption of a micronutrient is below the Recommended Dietary Allowance there is a risk of a chronic metabolic disorder such as accelerated degenerative disease.
Deficiencies of micronutrients can accelerate mitochondrial decay and degenerative diseases of aging, such as cancer.
Mitochondrial degradation is an important aging factor and related degenerative diseases, including cancer and neural decay. Mitochondria of older rats produce increased amounts of oxidative byproducts, have reduced membrane potential, respiratory control ratio, cellular oxygen consumption and cardiolipin compared to young rats.
Oxidative damage to DNA, RNA, proteins, and lipids in mitochondrial membranes contributes to this disintegration and leads to functional reduction of mitochondria, cells, tissues and organs such as the brain. The mechanism of mitochondrial decay is that, with age, increased oxidative damage to mitochondrial proteins induces structural degradation of key enzymes and this leads to a decrease in their affinity for the enzyme substrate. By providing old rats carnitine substrate for a few weeks appeared to reduce the oxidative damage, allowing the synthesis of the new acyl carnitine transferase with normal binding affinity.
This partially restores mitochondrial function, reduces oxidation, and reduces neuronal oxidation of RNA and mutagenic aldehydes. Carnitine is a mitochondrial coenzyme and decreases in mitochondria to a powerful antioxidant. It is also an effective inducer of antioxidant and thiol-protective enzymes, including those required for glutathione synthesis.
The intake of magnesium in 56% of the adults is below the estimated average requirement (EAR), particularly in low-income, teen, obese and elderly people. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with colon cancer and other cancers, hypertension, osteoporosis, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In a study of 4,035 men followed for 18 years, it was shown that men with the highest intake had a 40% reduced risk of mortality from all causes and for cardiovascular disease and a 50% reduced risk of cancer mortality compared to those with low magnesium intake.
In human cells, magnesium deficiency appeared to lead to mitochondrial DNA damage, acceleration of telomeres shortening and propulsion of aging.
Vitamin D deficiency.
People with dark skin at northern countries are often deficient in vitamin D because their darker skin interfere with the formation of vitamin D in the skin, requiring UV light, however vitamin D deficiency is also prevalent in Caucasians. Vitamin D deficiency is estimated to be strongly associated with colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers as well as cardiovascular diseases.
A large prospective study in women with supplementation of Vitamin D 400 IU showed a 41% lower risk of multiple sclerosis compared to women that did not receive supplement. Many researchers have suggested that supplementing vitamin D could reduce the incidence and mortality of diseases and lead to lower costs while others suggest that current RDA guidelines for vitamin D should be increased.
Micronutrients Deficiencies are associated with chronic degenerative diseases or impair heme synthesis which can lead to mitochondrial degradation, DNA damage, and cellular aging.
Calcium deficiency is common and has been linked with diabetic mice and mice with colorectal cancer.
Selenium deficiency in mice induces genes associated with DNA damage and oxidative stress and also it has been suggested that selenium protects against cancer.
Potassium enriched table salt in elderly men has been associated with a 40% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk compared to normal table salt intake.
Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with melanoma and other cancers as well as cognitive dysfunction.
Deficiency of vitamin B12 is common in the population and is associated with cognitive dysfunction, multiple sclerosis and chromosome breakage. Cognitive impairment associated with B12 deficiency improves by supplementation from the first year.
Folic acid deficiency also causes chromosome breakage associated with various cancers.
Thiamine deficiency is associated with brain dysfunction and diabetes.
Choline deficiency in humans’ increases DNA damage in lymphocytes, while in rats, it has been associated with cerebral dysfunction, oxidative compounds release and mitochondrial lesions.
Although much more research is needed, the literature suggests that micronutrients deficiency is likely to lead to cancer and other diseases.
Deficiencies in micronutrients are very common, and an available and inexpensive solution would be a multivitamin supplement, especially in a population with a high risk of deficiencies such as adolescents, obese and elderly along with the urge to eat a more balanced diet.
: One a Day Multivitamin