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Nutritional Deficiency

Nutritional Deficiency

Nutritional deficiencies occur when a person's nutrient intake consistently falls below the recommended requirement. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems, the most prevalent of which are anemia , beriberi, osteoporosis , pellagra, and rickets . Anemia occurs when the body does not have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen from the lungs to the body's cells. The most common symptom of anemia is a constant feeling of fatigue . Making sure that one's diet contains the proper amounts of iron , folate , and vitamin B12 can prevent anemia.

Prolonged thiamine deficiency can result in one of the more serious nutritional deficiencies, beriberi. Thiamine plays a major role in nerve processes, and a prolonged deficiency can result in nerve damage as well as heart and other muscle damage. Beriberi can be prevented by eating a diet containing foods rich in thiamine, such as meats, legumes , and whole-wheat breads.

Osteoporosis is an asymptomatic condition in which the loss of minerals can cause the body's bones to become porous and fragile. Making sure that one's diet contains the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

The niacin-deficiency disease, pellagra, can produce symptoms such as dermatitis, dementia , diarrhea, and even death. Pellagra can be prevented through eating almost any protein-rich foods.

Rickets, or defective bone growth, is the result of an excessive vitamin D deficiency. It has been virtually wiped out in the United States due to the vitamin D fortification of milk.

see also Anemia; Beriberi; Osteoporosis; Pellagra; Rickets.

Beth Hensleigh

Internet Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "CDC Identifies Nutritional Deficiencies Among Young Children." Available from <>

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Economic Characterization of the Dietary Supplement Industry Final Report." Available from <;comm/ds-econ4.html>

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