Nutritional Deficiency: Causes And Treatments
In this article, we’ll discuss the causes and treatments of nutritional deficiency.
Several biochemical reactions take place in the body. These reactions are necessary for carrying out our day-to-day activities. Nutrients are the components that fuel these reactions. Nutrients are classified as macronutrients and micronutrients. The former is comprised of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Minerals and vitamins make up the latter.
A deficiency in any of these nutrients can hamper the normal functioning of the body. If not addressed appropriately at the right time, these deficiencies could lead to health complications in the short and long run.
People are not usually macronutrient deficient. This is because all the foods we consume are composed of macronutrients. For instance, any kind of bread or vegetable you consume will easily supply you with essential amounts of carbohydrates. All kinds of meats are rich in protein. The butter and oils you consume provide you with the needed fats.
Causes Of Nutritional Deficiency
Nutrient deficiencies could result in an array of illnesses. These illnesses may range from trivial to severe. For instance, deficiency of vitamin C results in bleeding gums. If not taken care of, it leads to reduced immunity. Another example is calcium deficiency. A prolonged calcium deficiency translates to osteoporosis. Nevertheless, what is the cause of these deficiencies? Keep reading to know more.
Below are some of the common and not-so-common causes of nutrient deficiencies.
1. Improper Diet
Unlike macronutrients, micronutrients are not stored in your body for extended durations. Consequently, the body needs to be supplied with them regularly. However, not all foods you eat are replete with necessary micronutrients. A balanced diet is necessary for meeting your daily RDA of essential minerals and vitamins.
People today have become much more inclined to fast food and packaged food. This has led to poor eating habits among people. These food items are laden with harmful chemicals and preservatives. Fast foods have unhealthy trans fats, which can cause a variety of diseases and also take time to be excreted by the body.
2. No Exposure To Sunlight
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common forms of nutrient deficiencies. Lack of sunlight is the reason in this case. The human body is not capable of creating and storing vitamin D. It is synthesized in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is necessary for improving cognition and bone health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the body cannot effectively absorb calcium without Vitamin D. Therefore, going out in the morning sun is highly beneficial to your health.
3. Poor Gut Health
Your gut is full of good and harmful bacteria. Many of these bacteria help in the efficient absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. These bacteria also help in the synthesis of short-chain fatty acids and vitamin K. If the number of these good bacteria reduces, you are prone to digestion and immunity issues.
Factors like smoking and alcohol largely influence gut health. Another factor in this regard is the lack of probiotic foods in one’s diet. Foods such as yogurt and banana fall under this category.
There is a reason as to why pregnant women are prescribed iron supplements. In the majority of women, pregnancy is known to cause iron deficiency. But why is this so? During pregnancy, the body produces more blood to support the fetus. Lack of iron can cause anemia during pregnancy, which can cause birth defects in infants. Consider taking an iron-rich diet if you are pregnant. Some foods rich in iron are spinach, eggs, salmon, and lentils. Although, be careful not to consume raw eggs.
Certain types of cancer such as colorectal cancer can also cause malnutrition. Cancer affects the biochemistry of the body. This changes how your body absorbs nutrients from the food you eat. This condition is called malabsorption.
Cancer also causes weight loss and a reduction in appetite. This condition is known as cachexia. Symptoms of cachexia further increase nutritional deficiency in an individual.
Some medications are known to affect the digestive system and gut health. This harms the nutrient absorption capacity of the body. For instance, antibiotics are known to deplete the good gut bacteria. This harms intestinal health, consequently leading to vitamin K deficiency.
Diuretics are another such example. Over a period, diuretics can deplete the scarce magnesium and potassium stores of the body. Similarly, diabetes drugs like Riomet affect the body’s limited B-vitamin reserves.
Nutritional deficiency is not a serious medical condition if diagnosed timely. However, these deficiencies can lead to severe complications if not addressed at the right time. For instance, low levels of vitamin B6 have been linked with colorectal cancer. Likewise, osteoporosis is an outcome of prolonged calcium deficiency. B-vitamin deficiency is known to cause complications of the skin and hair.
However, there are treatments available for treating nutritional deficiencies. These generally include supplements and diet changes. Let us see them in detail.
1. Diet Changes
The simplest yet effective treatment is altering your diet. Start taking a balanced diet, which meets your recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Pay special attention to consuming foods rich in the nutrients you are deficient in. For instance, if you are deficient in vitamin A, add more vitamin A-rich foods to your diet. Such foods include tomatoes, carrots, eggs, and green leafy vegetables.
Consult a dietitian for appropriate changes to your diet. The dietitian will analyze your medical history and allergy reactions among other factors. Considering all those factors, he or she will prescribe you a diet plan. You would need to diligently follow the diet plan. You may also need regular blood tests for knowing the state of your deficiency.
Multivitamins or supplements are pills that provide you with the necessary nutrients. Supplements are usually prescribed to people who are not able to adjust their diets. This could be due to a variety of factors – a hectic lifestyle being one of them. There are several multivitamins available in the market and online. A single multivitamin pill has all the vitamins and nutrients you need. There are also vitamin D and Omega-3 supplements available. These are sold in the form of cod liver oil capsules.
The healthy functioning of the body depends upon optimum nutrient levels. Nonetheless, nutritional deficiency has become increasingly common in the past few decades. Many reasons lead to nutritional deficiencies, but poor food choices remain the first.
Nutritional deficiency can lead to many health complications. Timely treatment can prove helpful in this regard. Additionally, the treatments are simple, so you do not need to worry. Nutritional deficiency is no major malady, thus do not stress yourself even if you are diagnosed with it.
June 27, 2020 Sam Bell