Malnutrition & Dietary Deficiencies

Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. It is amongst the top risk factors for various health conditions. The following are the most common vitamins, minerals and dietary sources which diets are deficient in.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) - Found in whole grains, potatoes, pulses and nuts. Deficiency leads to loss of appetite, swelling of limbs, mental confusion, enlarged heart, muscle weakness and nervous disorders.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - Found in milk, eggs, meat, poultry and fortified breakfast cereals. Deficiency leads to cracked lips, bloodshot eyes, dermatitis and mild anaemia.

Vitamin B12 - Found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Deficiency is common amongst the elderly and vegans and leads to fatigue, pins and needles, loss of feeling in the limbs, megaloblastic anaemia and degeneration of the nervous system.

Folate (folic acid) - Found in Brussels sprouts, green leafy vegetables, liver, pulses and fortified foods. Deficiency leads to birth defects, megaloblastic anaemia and wasting of the gut.

Niacin (nicotinic acid) - Found in meat, poultry, nuts, peas, beans and fortified breakfast cereals. Deficiency leads to fatigue, pigmented skin rash, dermatitis and diarrhoea.  

Vitamin C - Found in blackcurrants, peppers, citrus fruits, potatoes and strawberries. Deficiency leads to sore gums, scaly skin, slow healing of wounds and increased vulnerability to infection.   

Vitamin D - Found in oily fish, fish liver oils and fortified margarine. Deficiency leads to muscle weakness, bone softening and rickets.

Vitamin E - Found in margarine, nuts and vegetable oil. Deficiency leads to nerve damage and haemolytic anaemia.

Calcium - Found in dairy products, green leafy vegetables, tinned sardines with bones and sesame seeds. Deficiency leads to muscle weakness, back pain, soft and brittle bones, fractures and osteoporosis.

Iron - Found in liver, beef, sardines, green leafy vegetables, dried figs, dried apricots, whole grains and iron fortified cereals. Deficiency leads to exhaustion, shortness of breath, iron deficiency anaemia and increased vulnerability to infection.   

Magnesium - Found in wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, sesame seeds and dried figs. Deficiency leads to muscle cramps, twitching, wheezing, tension headaches, heart palpitations and PMS.  

Potassium - Found in dried fruit, sunflower seeds, nuts, avocadoes, beans, peas and lentils.  Deficiency leads to weakness, confusion, apathy, extreme thirst, poor digestion, abdominal bloating, respiratory and heart issues.  
 
Zinc - Found in liver, red meat and nuts. Deficiency leads to slow wound healing and retarded growth.