Do you know that even if you eat every day, you can still be a victim of deficiency or even nutritional deficiency ? The latter does not only refer to a diet of low quantity, but also of low quality and diversity. Discover in this article everything you need to know to avoid or correct a nutritional deficiency.
How to define a nutritional deficiency ?
Dietary deficiency sets in as a result of a lack of nutrients essential to the balance and physical development of the body: vitamins, trace elements, fatty acids, proteins, etc. The latter no longer manage to cover the needs necessary for the body, which leads to a deterioration in the state of health.
The most common nutritional deficiencies and their respective symptoms
Nutritional deficiency is more common between 20 and 60 years old. Some of the most common dietary deficiencies include iron, magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc deficiencies. Symptoms of a dietary deficiency vary depending on the missing nutrient.
Calcium is the mineral that is found in the greatest quantity in the body. As for the rest, it ensures the proper functioning of muscle and nerve cells.
Calcium also plays an important role in kidney function, in the blood clotting process and in certain enzymatic processes.
Symptoms of a calcium deficiency appear only after a long time. They can manifest as kidney problems, osteoporosis, and tooth and gum problems. It also prevents the achievement of optimal bone mass in children and adolescents.
Vitamin D deficiency
In Western countries, 80% of the population and almost all the elderly lack vitamin D, because the older a person gets, the more difficult it is for his body to synthesize it.
Vitamin D contributes to the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestine, but also to their reabsorption by the kidneys. It is essential for the growth of a child and the maintenance of bone capital in adulthood. It also plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system.
Vitamin D deficiency is characterized by fatigue, bone pain, cramps, muscle weakness and dry skin. 80% of our vitamin needs are provided by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The rest must be provided by food.
Essential to the body, iron participates in the constitution of hemoglobin, myoglobin (in the muscles) and certain essential enzymes. It is also responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
Iron deficiency results in:
- exercise intolerance;
- a heartbeat;
- hair loss;
- pale skin and mucous membranes;
- appearance of edema on the legs;
- thermal regulation disorders;
- tiredness ;
- headaches ;
Magnesium is an element with multiple functions in the body. It controls energy metabolism, protein synthesis as well as the formation of bones and teeth. It is also responsible for the normal functioning of muscles and nerves.
Magnesium deficiency is characterized by hyperemotivity, anxiety, tremors, depression, irritability, chest tightness, headaches, sleep disturbances, cramps, muscle spasms, and lack of concentration.
The body’s need for zinc is low compared to other nutrients, but it is just as essential. It has several roles:
- child and fetal growth;
- strengthening of the immune response;
- improvement of neurological and productive functions;
- protein synthesis and DNA duplication;
- healthy skin, nails and hair;
- improved vision, taste and smell…
Zinc also plays a role in the blood clotting process, thyroid hormone actions and insulin metabolism.
Here are the main signs of zinc deficiency: frequent colds, lack of appetite, depression, brain numbness, acne, small white spots on the corners and fatigue.
The causes of a nutritional deficiency
In general, the main cause of a nutritional deficiency is the lack of intake: undiversified diet or poor nutrition. It can also be caused by disorders or by taking certain medications.
Dietary deficiency linked to a lack of intake
The risk of nutritional deficiency is higher in people who do not have a well-balanced diet.
People who are vegan or vegetarian are more prone to iron deficiency because their intake of foods of animal origin is insufficient.
People who do not eat dairy products, for allergy or other reasons, are more likely to have a calcium deficiency.
Finally, the elderly can also fall into nutritional deficiency for simple reasons such as lack of appetite, difficulties in preparing balanced meals but also disorders of assimilation and absorption of nutrients with age…
Dietary deficiency related to a medical disorder or treatment
The deficiency is not necessarily linked to a poor diet. It can be associated with certain illnesses or certain medical treatments that limit the absorption of essential elements (vitamins, minerals, etc.).
- Certain gastrointestinal diseases can for example influence the absorption of vitamin B12, folic acid and iron.
- In women, heavy menstruation can lead to iron deficiency.
- Alcoholism will have a negative impact on the absorption of vitamins and minerals. It reduces the body’s ability to store them and thus leads to numerous deficiencies (vitamin B, magnesium, calcium, etc.)
- Eating disorders lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
- If some drugs can block the absorption of calcium or iron, others decrease the production of vitamins or increase their elimination.
What are the effects of a nutritional deficiency on the body ?
Dietary deficiency can have adverse effects on health.
The impacts of vitamin D deficiency on our health
Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension and hyperlipemia.
Vitamin D deficiency in children affects their motor development and growth. It causes poor bone formation. In adults, it promotes the appearance of bone pathologies: osteoporosis, osteomalacia, dental caries…
Anemia means a decrease in hemoglobin in the blood. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the disorder is related to iron deficiency. When the level of iron in the body is low, it loses energy, hence the appearance of sudden and increased fatigue, reduced intellectual capacity, headaches, etc. Without rapid treatment , this disease can be life-threatening.
Iron deficiency anemia is mostly the result of dietary iron deficiency. Our body is unable to synthesize iron, so it must be completely provided by food.
Nutritional Deficiency ?
The best way to avoid nutritional deficiencies is to adopt a healthy, balanced and varied diet.
In this case, favor the following foods:
- iron-rich foods: red meat, egg yolk, green vegetables, oysters, spirulina;
- foods rich in magnesium: seafood, fish, molluscs, cocoa, nuts, seed skin;
- calcium-rich foods: dairy products, fish, legumes;
- foods with a high zinc content: oysters, sesame seeds, nuts.
To avoid vitamin D deficiency, the ideal is to expose yourself to the sun for a few minutes a day. But, as we explained earlier, solar radiation only provides us with 80% of our vitamin D needs, so we must supplement it with an adequate diet. You have among others dairy products, trout, cod liver oil or salmon.
What should be remembered is that nutritional deficiency is one of the main causes of the appearance of certain disorders or diseases. To avoid it, adopt a balanced, varied and healthy diet. Remember that our diet is the basis for maintaining good health capital on a daily basis.