What is a Nutrition Deficiency?

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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 30 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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The human body needs a variety of different nutrients in order to remain healthy and strong. When one or more of these nutrients is not supplied to the body, a nutrition deficiency develops. Without the appropriate nutrients, the various systems in the body cannot function properly. This can lead to mild or severe symptoms, including hair loss, bleeding, and deformities.

A person can determine if he has a nutrition deficiency by looking at a variety of symptoms. Some symptoms can be severe and warrant a specific name. Rickets, for example, is a calcium, phosphate, or vitamin D deficiency. Without these nutrients, the body cannot make bones as strong as they should be. This often results in soft bones and various deformities of the bones and teeth.

While some symptoms are severe, others can be milder. In fact, milder symptoms of nutrition deficiency often become apparent before the more severe disease sets in. For example, scurvy, the deficiency of vitamin C, is characterized by bleeding gums and pain in the joints because of bleeding. Before scurvy sets in, however, a person is likely to experience dark circles under his eyes and floaters in his vision. His wounds may also not heal as quickly as they should, and he may bruise easily.


The lack of any one of the many essential nutrients the body needs to function may result in a variety of seemingly harmless symptoms of nutrition deficiency. For instance, the lack of enough essential fatty acids may cause dry hair and dandruff. A zinc deficiency may be the cause of hangnails. A pale tongue or flat nails may be the sign of an iron deficiency. A B5 deficiency may cause premature graying in some people.

In order to keep nutrition deficiencies at bay, it is important to get the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals every day. There are many sources of these nutrients available in food, and vitamin supplements are also available. Some experts say that the best vitamins come from natural sources, however, and cite a number of drawbacks to taking vitamin pills or supplements.

Natural sources of nutrients may be best because the body may not absorb supplements as well as it does the vitamins found in food. When the body does not absorb those vitamins, it will just expel them. In addition, ingesting too many vitamins can be harmful to the body. While supplements can be helpful for some people, such as pregnant women, most people may be better off eating the proper foods in order to obtain the adequate amount of nutrition.



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Post 2

@dfoster85 - I'm glad your nephew's friend is getting help. Maybe it is not too late for him to develop better eating habits.

I have a friend who is actually a pretty healthy eater, but developed a vitamin D deficiency anyway. She is a commuter and wasn't spending much time outside or drinking much milk (which is fortified with vitamin D).

It is hard to get vitamin D from foods; the main source is sunlight. Since she couldn't change her dawn-to-dusk work schedule, her doctor did recommend a supplement. I know that they also recommend vitamin D supplements for breastfed infants because there is just not much of it in breast milk and babies are not supposed to spend a lot of time in the sun, for obvious reasons!

Post 1

Not everyone realizes that even overweight or obese people can develop specific nutrition deficiency symptoms if they do not eat a balanced diet. My nephew had this tubby little friend who just didn't have a healthy look to him. His mother confessed that she couldn't get him to eat much besides chicken nuggets and pizza. He had dark circles under his eyes and I always just thought he was over-tired from staying up late playing video games.

Well, when his gums started bleeding, she took him to the doctor and he turned out to have a vitamin C deficiency. The whole family is eating a better diet now, but it is a long road - it's hard to teach a kid to change his eating habits. They're trying to get him involved in picking out recipes, going to the farmer's market, helping cut up veggies, that sort of thing.

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