Vitamins are essential nutrients needed by our body. Only small amounts of vitamins are synthesized in our body and hence supplements are sometimes necessary. For a healthy life, all ingredients are required to maintain normal body function and deficiency of any of the essential nutrients leads to impairment of body function. Importance of nutrients & vitamin supplements increases in people suffering from chronic illnesses & also in patients in a recovery phase. In old age group, subclinical vitamin & trace mineral deficiency is very common.
Common symptoms due to vitamin deficiency are:
- Vitamin A Deficiency– Causes Night Blindness Papilledema in eyes, Drowsiness, Lethargy & vomiting. Due to Vit A deficiency follicular hyperkeratosis & scaling of the skin may also occur.
- Vitamin B (Thiamine Deficiency)- Leads to peripheral Neuropathy which presents as weakness, paresthesia, foot drop, imbalance of gait and impaired position & vibration sense.
- Riboflavin & Niacin Deficiency– Leads to angular stomatitis, cheilosis (dry cracking & ulcerated lips). Raw & slick tongue may occur to Riboflavin & Niacin deficiency.
- Vitamin C Deficiency– Leads to swollen, retracted & bleeding gums. In children, Vitamin ‘C’ deficiency may lead to tenderness & subperiosteal hemorrhage in children. Poor wound healing & decubitus ulcer may also occur due to Vitamin ‘C’ deficiency.
- Vitamin D Deficiency– It is one of most common type of vitamin deficiency all over the world. It is synthesized by skin in response to sun exposure. Due to the prevalent use of sunscreen, living indoor, less exposure to the sun, clothing all leads Vitamin D deficiency.
- Elderly & nursing home residents are at increased risk due to decreased synthesis & absorption from the intestine.
- Other important causes of Vitamin D deficiency are liver diseases, Renal failure, Nephritic syndrome, due to certain drugs like phenytoin, barbiturates, rifampicin, isoniazid & ketoconazole.
- Vitamin D deficiency is one of a most common case of osteoporotic fracture in elderly. Severe myopathy is one of the most common features of Vitamin D deficiency in both children & adults. Rickets and Osteomatacine are other common manifestation of vitamin D deficiency. Rapid resolution in symptoms may occur with supplements.