By Lori A. Smolin, Ph.D. and Mary B. Grosvenor, M.S., R.D.
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Extra resources for Nutrition and Eating Disorders, Second Edition (Healthy Eating: A Guide to Nutrition)
Minerals Minerals are single elements such as iron, calcium, zinc, and copper. Some are needed in the diet in significant amounts, whereas others are needed in extremely small amounts. indd 29 8/23/10 3:58 PM 30 Nutrition and eating disorders minerals provide no energy, but they perform a number of diverse functions. Some regulate chemical reactions. Others participate in reactions that protect cells from oxidative damage. Still others have roles in bone formation and maintenance, oxygen transport, and immune function.
This is the type of malnutrition seen in people who suffer from anorexia nervosa. Malnutrition due to an individual nutrient deficiency will cause symptoms that reflect the functions of that nutrient. For example, vitamin D is needed for strong bones. A deficiency of vitamin D causes the leg bones of children to bow outward, because they are too weak to support the body weight. Vitamin A is needed for healthy eyes; a deficiency can result in blindness. For many nutrient deficiencies, supplying the lacking nutrient can quickly reverse the symptoms.
Athletes are under extreme pressure to achieve and maintain a body weight that optimizes performance. Failure to meet weight goals can have serious consequences, such as being cut from the team or restricted from competition. This pressure may lead athletes to follow extreme diets to lose or gain weight quickly. Combined with the self-motivation and discipline that characterizes successful athletes, this makes them vulnerable to eating disorders. What Causes Eating Disorders? We know that eating disorders involve serious disturbances in eating behavior and extreme concern about body size or weight.