A deficiency disease is caused by lack of some nutrient, or essential component for proper bodily functioning. It means that an individual is not getting some really important vitamin or mineral. This can lead to severe consequences for growth, health, or proper bodily activities. However, few are fatal except in long-term chronic cases, and many are treated by simply supplying those nutrients in some form. Deficiency diseases is a disease in humans that are directly or indirectly caused by a lack of essential nutrients in the diet. Nutritional diseases are commonly associated with chronic malnutrition. Most dietary deficiency diseases are caused by a lack of protein, vitamins, or minerals.
Proteins deficiency diseases
Protein-energy malnutrition the term protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is used to describe the range of conditions related to calorie (energy) and protein deficiency disorders. These diseases are prevalent in developing countries where people lack sufficient food.
Kwashiorkor disease; Kwashiorkor is a disease caused specifically by a lack of protein in the diet.
Vitamins deficiency diseases
There are 13 vitamins essential for healthy growth, development, cell function, and metabolism: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and eight B vitamins. All vitamins must be taken into the body from outside food sources, except for vitamins D and K, which can be made under specific circumstances by the body.
Vitamin A; night blindness, (eye disease) and xerophthalmia (eye disease).
A deficiency of vitamin A can cause a disease called night blindness, in this disease the eyes fail to adjust to the dark because of problems with the retina. The deficiency also may cause another disease known as “glare” blindness, or problems seeing when the eye is exposed to too much light or to a sudden change in the amount of light when entering a darkened room. Vitamin A deficiency also can cause a disease called xerophthalmia the symptoms of this disease are eye dryness and thickening of the surface of parts of the eye. If this disease left untreated, it may lead to blindness.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine); Beriberi disease
Beriberi is a disease that affects the heart, digestive system, and nervous system. It results from a lack of vitamin B1 (also called thiamine) in the diet. The early stages of this disease are characterized by fatigue, loss of appetite, and a numb, tingling feeling in the legs.
There are three forms of beriberi disease;
Infantile beriberi: Although a nursing mother may not have the disease herself, her infant gets sick from not getting enough thiamine in the breast milk. The child may die in infancy, or the child may develop wet or dry beriberi disease.
Wet beriberi: This is characterized by an accumulation of fluid throughout the body, and a rapid heart rate that can lead to sudden death.
Dry beriberi: In this form of beriberi there is no fluid accumulation, but there is a loss of sensation and a weakness in the legs. People with this disease often need to walk with the aid of a cane and may become bedridden and susceptible to infectious diseases.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin); and pellagra disease
A deficiency of vitamin B3 leads to a disease called pellagra. Pellagra disease affects the skin, nervous system, and digestion, and can cause the “four Ds”: diarrhoea, dermatitis, dementia, and death. A person who is developing this disease may feel weak and tired, may have trouble sleeping, and may lose weight. The skin that is exposed to the sun may become scaly, rough, and reddened, and painful sores may develop in the mouth. There is a loss of appetite accompanied by indigestion and diarrhoea. A person with pellagra also might experience headaches, dizziness, and muscular tremors. Sometimes mental disorders (or dementia) appear.
Vitamin C; Scurvy disease
A deficiency of vitamin C leads to scurvy. The main symptom of scurvy is haemorrhaging, or bleeding under the skin, which results in the appearance of many bruises. A person with scurvy also may have swollen and infected gums. Wounds heal slowly, and bleeding in or around vital organs can be fatal. Scurvy is one of the oldest deficiency disease recorded and the first one to be cured by adding a vitamin to the diet.
Vitamin D; rickets and osteomalacia (diseases)
Rickets: (bone disease) Vitamin D is essential for proper bone formation because it helps regulate the amounts of certain bone-forming minerals (calcium and phosphate) in the bloodstream. Without enough vitamin D, a person can develop a disease called rickets, which is characterized by bone deformities. Rickets affects mainly children, because bone growth occurs during childhood. Rickets can cause the legs to become bowed by the weight of the body, and can cause the wrists and ankles to become thickened. Teeth are badly affected and take a longer time than usual to come in. All the bones are affected by not having sufficient calcium and phosphorous for their growth and development. Childhood rickets once was a common disease of infants and children.
Osteomalacia: (bone disease) an adult version of rickets disease caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorous is called osteomalacia. The bones become soft, deformed, and painful. This disease is seen more often in the Middle East and Asia than in Western countries.
Mineral deficiencies diseases
There are about 25 mineral elements in the body that usually appear in the form of simple salts. Those minerals that appear in large amounts are called macro minerals, whereas those that are in small or trace amounts are called micro minerals. Minerals known to be essential to a healthy body include calcium, phosphorous, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, and sodium. The result of a mineral deficiency depends on the particular mineral that is missing from the diet.
Calcium; Deficiencies of calcium and phosphorus lead to softening of the bones
Iron deficiency Anaemia; in this disease, the level of the haemoglobin becomes low gets tired very easily and feels weak. The skin becomes pale. The lips and nails become dull and colourless. This disease is caused due to the deficiency of iron.
Zinc deficiency; a zinc deficiency can lead to prostate and skin disorders
Most dietary deficiency diseases can be prevented by eating a well-balanced diet comprising a diversity of foods. Ongoing medical care can help prevent dietary deficiency diseases caused by genetic problems and by metabolic problems that prevent the body from absorbing or utilizing nutrients properly.