Vitamins are essential nutrients required for the optimal functioning of our body on daily basis. These nutrients are derived from our meal. Deficiency in the supply of these vitamins may result in the development of certain conditions symptomizing the lack of vital nutrients. This is termed Primary Nutritional Deficiency. This type of deficiency can however be reversed by taking the needed nutrient.
The symptoms of a nutritional deficiency depend on which vitamin the body lacks. However, there are some general symptoms you might experience, including:
- pallor (pale skin)
- trouble breathing
- unusual food cravings
- hair loss
- periods of lightheadedness
- heart palpitations
- feeling faint or fainting
- tingling and numbness of the joints
- menstrual issues (such as missed periods or very heavy cycles)
- poor concentration
Causes of Vitamin Deficiency
The deficiency of each vital is dependent on the its cause. Each vitamin has factor(s) responsible for its deficiency. For better understanding, we will be explaining each vitamin and its cause:
Vitamin A deficiency: the deficiency of this vitamin is mostly caused by lack of adequate consumption of animal products/food such as egg, meat and milk. Other causes of vitamin A deficiency may include the inability of a mother to breastfeed her baby, lack of storage ability of the body to store vitamin A, fat malabsorption, liver disorder, iron deficiency and high alcohol intake.
Vitamin B Deficiency: vitamin B generally plays a vital role in cell health and optimal function of the systems. The deficiency of this vitamin can result in cell death such as is seen in neurological disorder. Deficiency of this vitamin can be caused by excessive alcohol, HIV, Crohn’s and Celiac diseases.
Vitamin C Deficiency: Vitamin C plays a role in collagen, carnitine, hormone, and amino acid formation. It is essential for wound healing and facilitates recovery from burns. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, supports immune function, and facilitates the absorption of iron. Factors that can cause dietary vitamin C to be deficient may include increased by febrile illnesses, inflammatory disorders (particularly diarrheal disorders), achlorhydria, smoking, hyperthyroidism, iron deficiency, cold or heat stress, surgery, burns, and protein deficiency. Heat can destroy some of the vitamin C in food.
Vitamin D Deficiency: this vitamin is essential for strong bone formation and muscle strength. Its deficiency may be as a result of poor sunlight exposure, being dark skin and low intake of foods rich in this vitamin.
Vitamin E Deficiency: this vitamin is known for its beneficial roles in the repair of damaged skin, prevention of diseases, balancing hormones and fighting free radicals. Thus, its deficiency can result from conditions such as Cystic fibrosis, abetalipoproteinemia, chronic cholestatic hepatobiliary disease, short-bowel syndrome, and isolated vitamin E deficiency syndrome.
Vitamin K Deficiency: this vitamin is known for its role in blood clotting and bone health. Its deficiency can be caused by fat malabsorption, consumption of food low in vitamin k and on anticoagulant and antibiotic medications.
The treatment for a vitamin deficiency depends on the type and the severity of the deficiency. the health practitioner may need to carry out some physical examinations as well as collect some vital information in order to know the type and duration of the deficiency. They may order further testing to see if there is any other damage before deciding on a treatment plan. Symptoms usually fade when the correct diet is followed or supplemented. Ways in which the deficiencies may be reversed include:
You may be advised on how to change your eating habits in the case of a minor deficiency. For example, anemia sufferers should include more meat, eggs, poultry, vegetables, and cereals. The physician may refer you to a dietitian if your deficiency is more severe. They may recommend keeping a food diary for a few weeks. When you meet with the dietitian, you’ll go over the diary and identify changes you should make.
Typically, you will meet with the dietitian regularly. Eventually, you may have a blood test to confirm that you’re no longer deficient.
In some cases, you may need to take supplements or a multivitamin. It may also be necessary to take an additional supplement to help your body absorb the supplements, such as taking calcium and vitamin D together. The frequency and dosage of a supplement will depend on how severe the deficiency is and should be decided by the dietician or the physician.
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- Thiamin: Fact sheet for health professionals. (2015, January 15). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Thiamin-HealthProfessional/
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- Vitamin D. (2014, November 10).