W.B.C.S. Examination Notes On – Nutritional Deficiencies – Medical Science Notes.
The body requires many different vitamins and minerals that are crucial for both body development and preventing disease. These vitamins and minerals are often referred to as micronutrients. They aren’t produced naturally in the body, so you have to get them from your diet.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Examination Notes On – Nutritional Deficiencies – Medical Science Notes.
A nutritional deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t absorb or get from food the necessary amount of a nutrient. Deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems. These can include digestion problems, skin disorders, stunted or defective bone growth, and even dementia.
The amount of each nutrient you should consume depends on your age. In the United States, many foods that you buy in the grocery store — such as cereals, bread, and milk — are fortified with nutrients that are needed to prevent nutritional deficiency.
But sometimes your body is unable to absorb certain nutrients even if you’re consuming them. It’s possible to be deficient in any of the nutrients your body needs.
Keep reading to learn about some common nutritional deficiencies and how to avoid them.
The most widespread nutritional deficiency worldwide is iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. This is a blood disorder that causes fatigue, weakness, and a variety of other symptoms.
Iron is found in foods such as dark leafy greens, red meat, and egg yolks. It helps your body make red blood cells. When you’re iron-deficient, your body produces fewer red blood cells. The red blood cells it produces are smaller and paler than healthy blood cells. They’re also less efficient at delivering oxygen to your tissues and organs.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source, over 30 percent of the world’s population is anemic. Many of these people are anemic due to iron deficiency.
In fact, it’s the only nutritional deficiency that’s prevalent in both developing and industrialized countries. Iron deficiency anemia affects so many people that it’s now widely recognized as a public health epidemic.
Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A is a group of nutrients crucial for eye health and functioning and reproductive health in men and women. It also plays a part in strengthening the immune system against infections.
According to WHOTrusted Source, a lack of vitamin A is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Pregnant women deficient in vitamin A have higher maternal mortality rates as well.
Beta carotene is a nutrient that functions as an antioxidant. It’s found in red, orange, yellow, and dark green produce. Beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in the body when needed.
For newborn babies, the best source of vitamin A is breast milk. For everyone else, it’s important to eat plenty of foods high in vitamin A. These include:
- green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and spinach
- orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin
- reddish-yellow fruits, such as apricots, papaya, peaches, and tomatoes
Thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency
Another common nutritional deficiency occurs with thiamine, also known as vitamin B-1. Thiamine is an important part of your nervous system. It also helps your body turn carbohydrates into energy as part of your metabolism.
A lack of thiamine can result in:
- weight loss
- short-term memory loss
Thiamine deficiency can also lead to nerve and muscle damage and can affect the heart.
In the United States, thiamine deficiency is most often seen in people with excessive alcohol use. Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb thiamine, store thiamine in the liver, and convert thiamine to a usable form. Thiamine deficiency is a common cause of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This is a form of dementia.
Many breakfast cereals and grain products in the United States are fortified with thiamine. Other good sources of thiamine include:
- wheat germ
Niacin (vitamin B-3) deficiency
Niacin is another mineral that helps the body convert food into energy. It’s also known as vitamin B-3.
A severe deficiency in niacin is often referred to as pellagra. Niacin is found in most animal proteins but also in peanuts. As a result, this condition is rare in industrialized countries or in meat-eating communities.
Symptoms of pellagra include diarrhea, dementia, and skin disorders. You can usually treat it with a balanced diet and vitamin B-3 supplements.
Folate (vitamin B-9) deficiency
Vitamin B-9 helps the body create red blood cells and produce DNA. It’s often referred to as folate. Folate also helps brain development and nervous system functioning. Folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements or fortified foods.
Folate is especially important for fetal development. It plays a crucial role in the formation of a developing child’s brain and spinal cord. Folate deficiency can lead to severe birth defects, growth problems, or anemia.
You can find folate in the following foods:
- beans and lentils
- citrus fruits
- leafy green vegetables
- meats, such as poultry and pork
- fortified grain products
- whole grains
While beans can provide a great amount of folate, the folate content in canned beans is about half of what cooked, dried beans offer.
Most people in the United States get enough folate. But pregnant women and women of childbearing age sometimes don’t consume enough folate for a healthy pregnancy.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant consume up to 400 micrograms of folic acid each day — over and above the folate they’re getting from food naturally — to help prevent birth defects.
There’s also research showing that some people have genetic mutations that prevent their body from methylating folate, or converting it to a form the body can use. In these cases, while folate intake might be adequate, a supplement of methylated folate may be necessary to prevent deficiency.