The general, acute or chronic vitamin deficiency – medically also called hypovitaminosis – is a deficiency that can result in numerous diseases. As a deficiency situation that can be treated well, vitamin deficiency can be remedied by oral administration of vitamins and a change in diet. All metabolic disorders caused by an acute or chronic vitamin deficiency can be completely cured with appropriate diet and therapy.
What is vitamin deficiency?
Vitamin deficiency is defined as an acute or chronic lack of the required vitamins in the organism. If there is a vitamin deficiency in one or more vital substances over a long period of time, it can result in serious vitamin deficiency diseases such as scurvy, pellegra or beri-beri. For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd), please visit nonprofitdictionary.com.
Vitamin deficiency can be defined by acute or chronic undersupply as well as by an incorrect combination of foods, impaired utilization of vitamins in the organism or increased consumption of vitamins – for example during chemotherapy or pregnancy.
In view of the free access to dietary supplements and foods that are spiced up with synthetic vitamins, a vitamin deficiency should actually be impossible in our part of the world. Deficits in the processing of industrially produced food or a lack of vitamins in the case of an unbalanced diet are nowadays compensated for with “functional food” or vitamin supplements.
The fact is, however, that a general vitamin deficiency often occurs as a result of inadequate nutrition or an unbalanced diet. Serious vitamin deficiencies are recorded in developing countries or in anorexia. In old age, insufficient food and liquid intake can lead to a latent vitamin deficiency. In industrialized countries, highly processed foods are increasingly causing latent or acute vitamin deficiency to be diagnosed.
Chronic vitamin deficiency is most often attributed to malnutrition, absorption disorders, excess consumption during pregnancy or certain illnesses, certain illnesses or as a consequence of certain medical interventions or treatments. The organism counteracts an acute vitamin deficiency by helping itself from its depots or by reporting hunger.
However, most vitamins must be supplied daily and cannot be stored in the body. A combination of various factors can also trigger a vitamin deficiency. Stress as a vitamin robber in connection with an unbalanced diet low in vital substances will most likely lead to a vitamin deficiency in the long term.
Chemotherapy can also trigger a dramatic vitamin deficiency. Certain diseases – for example acute or chronic liver and kidney dysfunctions, the relatively rare light allergy or diabetes – can trigger vitamin deficiencies.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
There are many different signs of a vitamin deficiency. They develop depending on the existing deficit. Certain signs may indicate deficiency symptoms for several vitamins. The time it takes for symptoms to appear varies depending on the vitamin. The physical and mental reactions can range from simple symptoms of tiredness to dangerous cardiovascular problems, cancer or depression.
Changes in vision, especially at dusk and in the dark, are signs of a vitamin A deficiency. In addition, increased tiredness and susceptibility to infections as well as dry, scaly skin can develop. A lack of vitamin B1 can also cause fatigue, as well as irritability, mood swings and forgetfulness.
An undersupply of vitamin B2 can lead to muscle weakness, depressive moods and poor fat burning. Too little B3 can lead to sleep disorders, skin problems and premature exhaustion. Symptoms of a vitamin B5 deficiency can include poor concentration, low blood pressure, headaches and dizziness.
It can also lead to cravings and muscle cramps. An undersupply of vitamin B6 can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or loss of appetite. Sensory and movement disorders, confusion, nerve damage or breathing difficulties can occur due to a vitamin B12 deficit.
A lack of the main protective vitamin C can lead to reduced performance and susceptibility to infections. Too little vitamin D can cause growth disorders in children and cause increased tiredness and susceptibility to infections. Muscle problems, accelerated skin aging and problems concentrating can indicate a vitamin E deficiency.
Diagnosis & History
Depending on the cause, the diagnosis and course of vitamin deficiency vary. But first he has to be noticed. Vitamin deficiencies are likely in chronic malnutrition or multiple chemotherapy regimens, but not likely in those with an apparently normal diet.
A general undersupply can go unnoticed for a long time. In addition, there can be a lack of just one vitamin or the absorption of vitamins can be disturbed for many reasons without it being noticeable. Usually, a vitamin deficiency is only noticed when there is anemia, chronic fatigue, a prolonged drop in performance, skin problems, circulatory disorders, night blindness, osteoporosis or other symptoms.
Newborn children can suffer from so-called neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, due to a maternal vitamin deficiency. They usually end with the death of the child. Rickets occurs when there is a lack of vitamin D, and scurvy occurs when there is a lack of vitamin C. Both vitamin deficiency diseases can be easily encountered nowadays.
A vitamin deficiency can cause various complications. If the disease remains untreated over a longer period of time, this is initially noticeable through a poor complexion and cracked corners of the mouth, so-called rhagades. A lack of vitamins B5, B6 and B12 can cause anemia, which manifests itself in excessive tiredness and exhaustion, concentration problems and increased infections.
If vitamin D deficiency is not corrected, the risk of osteomalacia, a softening of bones associated with deformities, chronic pain and other complications, increases. Furthermore, a vitamin deficiency can lead to secondary diseases such as scurvy, beri-beri, Korsakoff syndrome or anencephaly. Nerve pain and neurological deficits can also occur.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause xerophthalmia, which in advanced stages can lead to blindness in the patient. Pregnant women who suffer from folic acid deficiency risk developing an open back in their child. The effects of such spina bifida can be misalignment and muscle imbalances in the hip, knee and ankle areas.
Spinal curvature occurs in about half of children. In the worst case, the treatment of a vitamin deficiency can lead to symptoms of poisoning from nutritional supplements. Intravenous administration of the missing vitamins occasionally leads to infections and injuries.
When should you go to the doctor?
If fatigue, dizziness and other signs of vitamin deficiency appear, it is advisable to consult a doctor. There may be a serious illness or the eating habits must be adjusted under medical guidance. In any case, a vitamin deficiency should be clarified. For some vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D, the level of the vitamin can be tested in the body itself. Corresponding home tests are available in the pharmacy or from the doctor. People who suffer from an eating disorder are particularly at risk for a vitamin deficiency. Deficiencies also occur quickly in older people and people with hemophilia.
Anyone who belongs to these risk groups or suffers from another disease should inform their doctor immediately if they experience any unusual symptoms. The right contact person is the general practitioner or an internist. A psychologist should be consulted in the case of psychologically caused eating disorders. The nutritionist creates a nutrition plan together with the patient and gives tips on how everyday life can be organized better.
A vitamin deficiency manifests itself through clear symptoms. Pallor and tiredness indicate anemia, which must be clarified quickly. Headaches, dizziness and lack of concentration are clear deficiency symptoms. If they occur for more than a few days at a time, the doctor must be consulted. Parents who notice signs of a vitamin deficiency in their child should speak to the pediatrician.
Treatment & Therapy
Treating vitamin deficiencies is relatively easy. You can be successful through a change in eating habits. In the case of certain forms of illness as a result of vitamin deficiency, it can make sense to take additional food supplements.
In order to prevent dangerous overdoses or underdoses of certain vitamins, they should be taken under medical supervision. With other vitamins, excess is simply excreted.
If the vitamin deficiency is not due to nutritional deficiencies, but to organic diseases or absorption disorders, these must be treated.
To prevent a vitamin deficiency, a varied diet rich in vital substances and containing all the important nutrients is sufficient. Known vitamin robbers such as white flour, sugar or stress should be reduced. Vitamin D can only be formed through sunlight, so it makes sense to stay in the fresh air every day.
Successfully treated acute hypovitaminosis does not require complicated follow-up care. If malnutrition or malnutrition causes the vitamin deficiency, the patient should develop new guidelines for general nutrition with a doctor or, even better, a nutritionist. Compliance and effectiveness must be checked by regular blood tests in the laboratory.
A renewed decrease in the stabilized vitamin store can be counteracted at an early stage and successful further treatment can be ensured. The healing of the dry and chapped skin that is typical of vitamin deficiency can also be supported with creams applied externally to the relevant areas of the skin. Normally, however, these side effects regulate themselves just as quickly as the specific symptoms.
Discomfort caused by hypovitaminosis resolves completely and by itself. As a rule, irreversible damage does not occur in industrialized countries such as Germany. Apart from checking the blood at regular intervals, no special aftercare measures need to be taken.
The prerequisite for this, however, is that the body’s own vitamin stores have been completely replenished during the treatment. In principle, compliance with preventive measures, i.e. an optimized diet and lifestyle, is also the best aftercare.
You can do that yourself
If you have a vitamin deficiency, you should first consult your doctor. Alongside this, some self-help measures can be taken. A slight vitamin deficiency can be compensated for by changing your diet . Vitamin-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables should be on the menu. Lean fish, beans and whole grain products are also part of the diet, as these foods contain substances that support the absorption of vitamins in the body.
In the case of severe vitamin deficiency, it is necessary to take dietary supplements. It is best taken in consultation with a doctor in order to avoid an excess of vitamins and allergic reactions. In addition, you should ensure you get enough sleep and rest. The body is usually very weak with a vitamin deficiency, which is why no strenuous sporting activities should be carried out. After a few weeks, the vitamin deficiency should be resolved. However, those affected should have another medical examination to be sure.
After the deficiency has been compensated, you can do sports again. Moderate physical activity stimulates the metabolism and contributes to the rapid absorption of vitamins. At the same time, one must pay attention to any warning signals from the body. In the case of severe tiredness, cardiovascular problems or depressive moods, there may already be a serious deficiency that needs to be treated by a doctor.