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World Health Day 2021: Diseases Caused By Nutritional Deficiencies

Every year, 7 April is observed as World Health Day. This global health awareness day is celebrated under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO). The day marks the founding of WHO, along with raising awareness on the importance of global health.

Initiated in 1948 and coming to effect in 1950, the day aims to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. The 2021 theme for World Health Day is 'building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.'

Common Nutritional Deficiencies Among Indians And Their Food Sources

In the event of the global day that aims to improve the global health quotient, let's take a look at some of the diseases caused by nutritional deficiencies.


Nutritional Deficiencies And Diseases

A well-balanced diet and nutrition are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Our body needs all sorts of essential nutrients to function properly, which, when absent, can result in malnutrition, which is the result of our body not getting enough nutrients [1]. This further results in various deficiencies and diseases. Nutritional deficiency occurs when there is an absence of nutrients that are essential for growth and health and can affect bodily functions [2].

Essentially nutrient deficiencies can be the result of poor nutritional intake, chronic health conditions, acute health conditions, medications, altered nutrient metabolism, or a combination of these factors, and can impact the levels of both macronutrients and micronutrients in the body [3]. These, in turn, can lead to alterations in energy metabolism, immune function, cognitive function, bone formation, and/or muscle function, as well as growth and development [4].

There are many deficiencies and diseases caused by malnutrition, some of which include scurvy, beriberi disease, goitre, anaemia etc. In this article, we at Boldsky will be listing out some of the diseases that are caused by nutritional deficiencies and the ways to prevent these disorders effectively. Read on to know more about it.


1. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is caused by a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium. It affects the bone health and spine and leads to unhealthy bones that are more prone to fractures and defects in the spine structure. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, it is estimated that osteoporosis affects about 200 million women worldwide. In comparison to men, women are much more likely to be affected by osteoporosis [5]. Bananas, spinach, milk and okra are some of the natural sources of vitamin D.

Osteoporosis In Men: Risk Factors And Tips To Prevent It

Some of the measures you can adopt to manage and control osteoporosis are avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, be cautious and avoid falls, add calcium and vitamin D in your diet, regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking and exercises to promote flexibility and balance, such as yoga [6].

Nutrition In Osteoporosis Prevention And A 7-Day Osteoporosis Diet Plan

2. Anaemia

Anaemia is caused by a deficiency of iron. Iron deficiency results in a decreased red blood cell count or haemoglobin in the body. This, in turn, causes fatigue, weakness and paleness in the body. This can be treated by consuming iron-rich foods such as nuts, tofu and bran. You can consume animal sources (of iron) such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs. One can also get iron from vegetarian food sources such as beans and other green vegetables and increase its absorption by combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C (citrus fruits) [7].


3. Goitre

Goitre is primarily caused by the deficiency of iodine [8]. Iodine is essential for cell metabolism. Goitre leads to enlarged thyroid glands causing hypothyroidism, poor growth, and mental retardation. Iodised salt and saltwater fish must be consumed to prevent the onset of goitre (mostly simple goitres). Other causes of goitre include the body's immune system attacking the thyroid gland (autoimmune problem), cigarette smoking, eating exceptionally large amounts of certain foods (soy, peanuts, or vegetables in the broccoli and cabbage family) etc.

28 Effective Home Remedies For Goitre

4. Night Blindness

One of the primary causes of night blindness is the deficiency of vitamin A. In aggravated conditions, night blindness can result in a loss of vision too. Including foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots and green leafy vegetables can prevent this disorder. When night blindness is caused by vitamin A deficiency, it is completely treatable [9].

Can Vitamin A Deficiency Cause Blindness?


5. Depression

There are several nutritional deficiencies that can cause depression [10]. A lack of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin B complex, folate etc., can all result in the development of depression. The symptoms of depression have the potential to affect all areas of one's life, including work, diet, sleep, and interpersonal relationships. Studies point out that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors, where nutritional deficiencies are considered as one of the major causes.

What Are The Physical Symptoms Of Depression?

6. Beriberi Disease

Beriberi is a result of a deficiency of vitamin B1. Some of its symptoms include muscle degeneration, altered muscle coordination and cardiovascular problems. Sources such as meat, eggs, whole grains, and nuts are rich in thiamine or vitamin B1 and can help manage the onset of health issues [11].

Some of the other health issues caused by nutritional deficiencies are as follows [12]:

  • Microcytic anaemia
  • Scaling of the lips and cracks in the corners of the mouth
  • Swollen tongue
  • Confusion
  • Development of scurvy would include fatigue, inflammation of the gums, and weakened connective tissue
  • Development of rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults
  • Loss of appetite and weakness
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Bleeding gums
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Mouth ulcers
  • White growths on the eyes
  • Dandruff and patches
  • Hair loss

On A Final Note…

You can always address the majority of common nutritional deficiencies by incorporating specific foods and supplements into your diets. A blood test can help you find out exactly what type of vitamin deficiency you are suffering from and get the right treatment for it.

Story first published: Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 17:35 [IST]