Avitaminosis, by definition, is the total absence of vitamins in a person. The more correct to use term is Hypovitaminosis, which better expresses the idea of a deficit or lack partial in the amount of a vitamin or a group of them in the body occurs. However, many times, and in colloquial way, the term vitamin deficiency is used in the sense of partial lack.
Vitamins are nutrients needed by the body, usually in very small quantities. However, if it does not consume a varied diet that contains all the food groups, it is relatively easy to not get to cover daily minimum recommendations. In fact, except a couple of cases, the vast majority of vitamins are essential, which means that, in addition to necessary, man must take them or get them compulsorily from the outside, because your body is not able to manufacture them. Taking into account this fact, the importance of diet in this disorder becomes still more relevant.
Despite what may seem, vitamin deficiency not always happens to people that live in countries developing, in that a large sector of the population may present serious malnutrition and where it seems logical to talk about low vitamin levels. In the more favoured regions economically also occur frequently situations of lack of vitamins, due to various circumstances that we explain in the next section.
Among the most common causes of vitamin deficiency or Hypovitaminosis are:
- With severe restrictions, and unbalanced diet that prevents the contribution of these micronutrients in the recommended amounts, is the origin of this disorder. It may be due to external circumstances, such as the absence of food supply in case of famine, drought, armed conflicts or displacements of refugees. But also arises due to self-imposed limitations: very strict diets without professional control, removal of basic foods for health, dietary habits, inadequate and maintained over time, etc.
- An increase in the nutritional needs because, for example, a pregnancy, a period of lactation, a rapid stage of development, or a season of intense physical activity, can cause, despite eating more or less similar way, causing a deficiency, now needed more vitamin content.
- An increase in the losses of the absorption of vitamins can become a problem if it stays in time. It is the case of diseases that present with chronic diarrhea, where the content of the diet has much difficulty to cross the membrane of intestine and pass into the blood, already the torrent which means decomposition makes that many nutrients are lost in the stool. Examples of this problem are: Celiac disease without diagnosis or treatment, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric or intestinal resections, food intolerances, etc.
- Take the long term of some drugs that can bind to any vitamin and that inactivate it. Interactions between drugs and nutrients that must be taken into account to supplement the diets when required.
- The habit of smoking destroys part of the vitamin C ingested by a person smoking. Hence, if it does not increase the intake of vitamin C, you may have a deficit in the same.
Vitamin deficiency or Hypovitaminosis can lead to various health problems and even lead to diseases. Although any of 13 vitamins mentioned below is likely to present a deficit, there are some whose deficiency is most common, and they are better studied. In addition, vitamin food distribution is not homogeneous, for what when a vitamin is present in many and varied foods is less likely to occur low consumption or contribution.
Vitamin deficiency of water-soluble vitamins
Water-soluble vitamins have the ability to dissolve in water, so it is easily lost. You will learn the damages that have health deficit of water-soluble vitamins:
1. vitamin C or Ascorbic acid. Its deficiency causes a disease called scurvy. Typical of sailors who made long journeys in the past that did not have raw and fresh foods. It causes oral changes with weakness and bleeding gums and loss of teeth, anemia, bleeding and delay in wound healing, alterations in skin and hair, slowdown of growth, increase in infections, fractures, etc.
2 vitamin B1 or thiamine. Beri-beri is caused by thiamine deficiency, and is characterized by severe neurological disorders like mental confusion, irritability and fatigue. Also there may be cardiovascular symptoms.
3 vitamin B2 or Riboflavin. Its low input triggers changes in mucous membranes, especially mouth and eyes: inflammation of the tongue, eye dryness or persistent watery eyes, etc.
4 vitamin B3 or niacin. Pellagra associated symptoms such as gastrointestinal and dermatological disorders and dementia. A visible external sign is the so-called ‘Casal collar’ where they appear dark colorations in the form of dermal spots on neck, wrists and knees.
5 vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid. If your levels are low it can trigger skin, digestive and neurological disorders.
6 vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. Its deficit can lead to anemia and neurological, nervous and digestive problems.
7 vitamin B9 or folic acid. Type megaloblastico anemia can cause its deficiency. I also delay mental and physical growth as well as malformations in the fetus.
8 vitamin B8 or biotin. Its deficiency causes dermatitis, gastrointestinal, neurological and muscular disorders.
9 vitamin B12 or cobalamin. It can cause pernicious anemia, neuromuscular or blood problems.
Vitamin deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the fatty tissues of the human body and in the liver, so it is easier to have them and their daily consumption is not as necessary as in the case of the water-soluble. However, its deficit also causes health problems such as:
10 vitamin A. Its deficit causes ocular alterations, being the most typical night blindness by queratomalacia (the cornea dries and becomes opaque). It also causes skin problems and delayed growth.
11 vitamin D. Rickets is produced by a lack of this vitamin and is characterized by the bowing of the legs, widespread bone demineralization and softening of the skeletal system, and dental caries increased.
12 vitamin K. Scarcity causes hemorrhagic disease of the newborn baby and hemorrhages in the adult.
13 vitamin E. Weakness and anemia and neurological problems are the most common symptoms of lack thereof. It also relates to some degree of sterility.
The first step in the treatment of vitamin deficiency or Hypovitaminosis is the study and evaluation of the diet of the patient, in order to solve possible errors which is committing through a serious and rigorous nutritional education.
It is very important to instill in the population, since childhood, the habit to include foods from all groups, without exception, in quantities and frequencies recommended, and fight misconceptions in feeding and dangerous ideas that put at risk the health of those who follow them.
You also should eliminate all possible organic causes that may be behind an improper absorption of nutrients through a digestive study and an analysis of the medication taken by that person.
Vitamin supplementation may be a good resource to overcome moments lack lower and try to catch levels, but always with the professional advice and being aware of that most of the vitamins excess does not accumulate in the body, so it is useless to do a treatment with mega-dose over a period of time If then a balanced, healthy, full and varied diet is not.