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What are Nutritional Deficiencies?

What are Nutritional Deficiencies?

by: Dr. Shweta Mendiratta
Associate Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

Nutritional deficiencies are also called malnutrition. It sets in when the body doesn’t absorb or get food from the nutrients. Malnutrition can lead to various nutritional deficiencies like digestive problems, anemia, skin problems, eye sight issues, bone related issues like osteoporosis, dementia, stunted growth among children etc.

Signs and most common nutritional deficiencies:

  • Eyes– Dark circles under eyes, poor vision, night blindness, ruptured blood vessels caused dues to vitamin A, D & C deficiency.
  • Teeth & Gums – Bleeding in gums & crowded teeth caused due to vitamin C, K, folic acid and calcium deficiency.
  • Hair – Hair loss, dry hair & dandruff caused due to deficiency of vitamin A, D, E, B2, Omega 3, protein & selenium.
  • Nails – Brittle and pale nails caused due to Vitamin B12, iron, calcium, protein, magnesium, zinc deficiency.
  • Muscles and Joints – Muscle cramping, numbness or tingling, joint pains, edema/ swelling caused due to vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, manganese deficiency.
  • Mouth – Loss of smell or taste, cracks on sides of the mouth, weak enamel caused due to deficiency of fat soluble vitamins A, D, K , vitamin B2, B12, zinc and folic acid.
  • Skin– Dry and rough skin, dermatitis, unusual nose bleed, acne during menstruation is caused due to vitamin A, E, C, vitamin B2, B3, B6, zinc, and biotin.
  • Emotional / mental– Depression, dementia, insomnia, dizziness , irritability is caused due to vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Vitamin D3 , iron and folic acid.

How to prevent Nutritional Deficiencies?

In order to prevent nutritional deficiencies:

  • Diet should be balanced and wholesome
  • Calcium – rich foods to be consumed
  • Lean and plant based proteins
  • Good quality fats rich in omega 3 & omega 6
  • Consume whole grains & other millets
  • Plenty of healthy fluids
  • Plenty of raw fruits & vegetables

Common nutritional deficiencies that you should be aware of:

The most common nutritional deficiencies are:

  • Iron deficiency: Iron helps your body make red blood cells. When iron levels get too low, your body can’t effectively carry oxygen. The resulting anemia can cause fatigue. You might also notice pale skin and dull, thin, sparse hair.
  • Vitamin D Deficiency: This vitamin is also critical for bone health. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be vague like fatigue and muscle aches or weakness.
  • Potassium Deficiency: Potassium helps the kidneys, heart, and other organs work properly. You could become low in potassium in the short term because of diarrhea or vomiting, excessive sweating, or antibiotics, or because of chronic conditions such as eating disorders and kidney disease.
  • Calcium Deficiency: Calcium is important for maintaining strong bones and controlling muscle and nerve function. Signs of severely low calcium include fatigue, muscle cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, and a poor appetite.
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