We live in a world where proper nutrition proves easy for some, and quite difficult for others. Those of us whose diets reflect a lean regimen of wholesome, enriched foods are at minimal risk of developing nutritional disorders, but these conditions persist, despite so many advances in the way we create food and satiate hunger.
At Desoto Family Care Clinic in Southaven, Mississippi, our staff of warm, experienced professionals offer guidance and comprehensive treatment for nutritional disorders, including nutrient deficiencies.
Nutritional deficiencies are a common issue, especially in those who have limited access to or knowledge about wholesome foods. If you think you might be experiencing a nutritional deficiency, you’re far from alone.
What is a nutritional deficiency or disorder?
An estimated 925 million people live with chronic undernutrition, or malnutrition, globally. Chronic undernutrition, a result of extreme poverty, is most strongly felt in several African and Asian countries, but can affect people in developed countries too.
People in developed countries don’t experience nutritional deficiencies at the same rate, but they do occur. Some of the most common conditions caused by nutritional deficiencies in the developed world are linked primarily to food insecurity and homelessness, despite the fact that a typical United States diet tends to rely heavily on ready-made carbohydrates and highly processed, sodium-rich proteins.
Despite the numerous advantages of living in a developed Western society, the issue of getting enough nutrients is most affected by one’s proximity and access to a wholesome, nutritious diet. An estimated 1% of children in the US suffer from malnutrition, but women in general and pregnant women with back-to-back pregnancies are also at elevated risk of suffering from a nutritional deficiency.
What conditions are caused by nutritional deficiency?
Nutritional deficiencies can affect your energy levels, and severe deficiencies can affect your appearance and the ability of your organs to function properly. Symptoms don’t typically develop until a nutritional deficiency has been occurring for a number of months. Some common nutritional deficiencies include:
Iodine is commonly found in fresh fish, eggs, daily products, and seaweed. While it’s rarely the first mineral sought out by even health-conscious people, an iodine deficiency can cause your thyroid gland to swell and become inflamed, creating an uncomfortable and unattractive goiter on the side of your neck. Weight changes, rapid heart beat, and shortness of breath also indicate iodine deficiencies.
Zinc can be found in most meats, beans, nuts, and dairy products. Too much alcohol, or having cancer, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia can elevate your risk of a zinc deficiency. This condition delays your body’s natural healing processes, causes skin issues, weight loss, hair loss, and may worsen asthma.
Zinc is essential to protecting and strengthening your immune system, so living with a zinc deficiency often produces cold-like symptoms.
Folate, also known as vitamin B12, is an essential vitamin for metabolism, red blood cell division, and brain and nerve function. Actually, nearly every bodily function relies on folate or a folate-involved process.
For vegans or vegetarians, the risk of a B12 deficiency is particularly high. Enlarged blood cells and impaired brain function are also common symptoms of this deficiency.
Vitamin A deficiency
Dark green, leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, carrots, and dairy all contain vitamin A, a key component in cell growth and communication, and in the formation of healthy teeth, skin, and bones. Vitamin A is also essential for proper immune function, and supports healthy vision. Vitamin A is so important to your vision that a deficiency can damage your vision.
Breaking down the sugars, fats, and protein in your body doesn’t end in your stomach. Vitamin B6 is also responsible for metabolizing food once it reaches your bloodstream. Like vitamin A, B6 assists in the formation of healthy skin and nerves. Too little vitamin B6 can cause rashes, fatigue, and mental fog, or difficulty focusing.
What if I don’t do anything?
In no uncertain terms, long-term nutritional deficiencies can maim and kill. The image of a malnourished, starving child abroad isn’t a new one to most people in developed nations, but that’s a reflection of the possible effects of a nutritional deficiency. If you think your diet may not be meeting your nutritional needs, call our office at or request an appointment online today.