A healthy and balanced diet, enriched with all the essential nutrients, is a must for overall well-being. Children and adults alike require proper nutrition for ensuring a healthy and long life. Malnutrition and deficiency of these vital elements can lead to serious diseases and conditions.
Deficiency of Vitamin D along with calcium and potassium in the body causes rickets. Rickets is characterized by weak and soft bones, bowed legs and bone deformities. Fish, fortified dairy products, liver, oil and sunlight are some rich sources of Vitamin D. One may need to resort to dietary supplements for making up for the lack of the “sunshine vitamin” in the body.
Dementia, diarrhea, dermatitis and death are “the four Ds” that characterize Pellagra, a disease caused by the lack of Niacin or B3 in the body. The deficiency of niacin is also accompanied by a short supply of the amino acids, tryptophan and lysine or the excessive presence of lysine in the body. Foods enriched with niacin are tuna, whole grains, peanuts, mushrooms, chicken etc. These should be consumed regularly to ward off this disease.
Alarmingly reduced levels of Vitamin C or ascorbic acid in the body can cause scurvy. Scurvy basically inhibits the production of collagen in the body which is the structural protein that connects the tissues. Decaying of the skin and gums, abnormal formation of teeth and bones, delay or inability to heal wounds and bleeding are the effects of scurvy on the body. One must ensure optimal consumption of Vitamin C by having citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, strawberry etc and broccoli regularly.
Lack of Vitamin B1 or thiamine in the body leads to the disease called beri beri. The most common symptoms of this illness are altered muscle coordination, nerve degeneration and cardiovascular problems. Meat, eggs, whole grains, dried beans etc are rich in thiamine and thus, should be consumed in proper amounts everyday to avoid this painful ailment.
Xerophthalmia or night blindness is characterized by blindness due to the poor growth, dryness and keratinisation of epithelial tissue or chronic eye infection. The cause of this disease is attributed to the deficiency of Vitamin A in the body. In worsened situations, night blindness can aggravate to complete loss of vision. The safest way to enhance the Vitamin A levels in the body is by consuming natural food sources like carrots, green and leafy vegetables, cantaloupes etc.
Iodine in the body is essential for normal cell metabolism in the body and deficiency of iodine may cause goitre. Goitre leads to enlarged thyroid glands causing hypothyroidism, poor growth and development of infants in childhood, cretinism and even mental retardation. This disease is commonly found to occur in places having iodine deficit soil. Iodised salt and saltwater fish are rich sources of iodine, and must be consumed regularly to avoid goitre.
Iron deficiency anaemia is a disease caused by the deficiency of iron in the body. It is characterized by a decrease in the red blood cell count or hemoglobin in the body, resulting in fatigue, weakness, dyspnoea and paleness of the body. It can be easily treated by changing to a healthy diet and consuming iron supplements on a regular basis. Squashes, nuts, tofu, bran etc are rich sources of iron for the body.
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Kwashiorkor is a deficiency disease caused by lack of protein and energy in the body. It is characterized by anorexia, an enlarged liver, irritability and ulcerating dermatoses. These are the one of the nutritional deficiencies in children, especially from famine-struck areas and places with poor food supply, Kwashiokor is caused by malnutrition. A healthy and balanced diet enriched with protein and carbohydrate sources like eggs, lentils, rice etc helps combat this problem.
Problems of depression, hair loss, rashes and mental issues are caused by the deficiency of Vitamin B7 or biotin. This deficiency can be fatal if present in an aggravated form. Consume poultry products, dairy items, peanuts, nuts etc that are rich sources of biotin. These must be consumed along with supplements to recover and prevent these illnesses.
Deficiency of Vitamin D and calcium in the body can negatively affect the health of the bones and spine. It leads to unhealthy, soft and brittle bones that are prone to fractures and defects in the spine structure. Bananas, spinach, milk, okra, soy and sunlight are natural sources of Vitamin D and calcium that act to eliminate this deficiency.
It is important to follow a healthy and balanced diet in order to lead a healthy and disease- free life. Apart from a healthy diet, don’t forget to exercise everyday. This can therefore help you stay away from causes and signs of nutritional deficiencies. Stay safe, stay healthy!
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