Deficiency Diseases

What is Deficiency Disease?

A deficiency disease can be defined as a disease which is caused by the lack of essential nutrients or dietary elements such as vitamins and minerals in the human body. 

Deficiency disease examples: Vitamin B1 deficiency causes beriberi, lack of iron in the body can lead to anaemia.

Vitamin Deficiency: It is a condition of a long-term lack of vital amines in our body. If there is less intake of vitamin then the condition is called primary deficiency and if the reason behind deficiency is malabsorption of vitamins due to a disorder, it is called a secondary deficiency. Vitamin deficiency can result in diseases such as beriberi and pellagra. 

Mineral Deficiency:  Minerals are nutrients that the human body needs in order to function properly. A mineral deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t obtain or absorb the required amount of a mineral. It can happen slowly over time for various reasons. These can be increased need for minerals in the body, lack of minerals in the diet, etc. The deficiency of minerals can lead to several health problems. For example, deficiency of iron can result in anaemia. 

Types of Deficiency Diseases:

Deficiency diseases can be categorised into two types.

  1. Vitamin deficiency diseases 

  2. Mineral deficiency diseases


The following is a list of deficiency diseases with their symptoms

Vitamin Deficiency Diseases list

Water-Soluble Vitamin Deficiencies:

Deficient Vitamins


Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Severe deficiency causes Beriberi with symptoms being weight loss, impaired sensory perception, weakness, and pain in limbs. Some forms of beriberi are Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

The deficiency of this vitamin causes angular cheilitis which causes inflammation at mouth corners, chapped, and cracked lips. It can also cause anaemia.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) 

Causes Pellagra which is a life-threatening disease. The symptoms are diarrhoea, dermatitis, and dementia. If not treated at an early stage, the patient may die. 

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) 

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare and the symptoms are fatigue, apathy, and irritability.

Vitamin B6 

End-stage kidney diseases such as celiac disease, Crohn disease, etc. The symptoms include microcytic anaemia depression, dermatitis, and electroencephalographic abnormalities

Biotin (Vitamin B7) 

The deficiency affects the growth of hair and deteriorates skin health. Increased urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid is a sign of biotin deficiency.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

It is very common and the deficiency is associated with neural tube defects in infants. Cerebral folate deficiency is a rare form of folate deficiency where the vitamin concentrations in the brain are low despite normal blood flow.

Vitamin B12 

Deficiency of this disease leads to pernicious anaemia, megaloblastic anaemia, methylmalonic acidemia, etc.

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)

Deficiency results in Scurvy and the symptoms are bleeding gums, swelling in joints and skin spots.

Fat-Soluble Vitamin Deficiencies:

Deficient Vitamin


Retinol (Vitamin A)

The deficiency causes night blindness or nyctalopia and keratomalacia. If not treated it can lead to permanent blindness. The deficiency also weakens the immune system of our body. 

Calciferol (Vitamin D)

It causes a disease known as rickets. The symptoms are decaying of teeth, weakening of bones, and joints.

Phylloquinone (Vitamin K)

The deficiency of vitamin K leads to decreased coagulation of blood. The signs and symptoms are bleeding gums, bruising, nosebleeds, and heavy menstrual bleeding in women.

Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

The major problems associated are muscle and nerve weakness. The signs are hyporeflexia, distal muscle weakness, decreased vibratory sense, neurological symptoms etc.

Mineral Deficiency Diseases List

Deficient Minerals



The deficiency of calcium leads to decreased calcium density in bones which results in a condition called osteopenia. This condition increases the risk of bone fractures. Severe calcium can also cause kidney failure. The symptoms are cramping of muscles, fatigue, poor appetite, numbness, etc.

Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency in the body results in anaemia. The symptoms include feeling weak and tired.  Children exhibit signs of slow cognitive and social development.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is uncommon. However, in case the human body has low levels of magnesium it can cause weakness, nausea, vomiting, etc. If untreated, other symptoms such as seizures, numbness, abnormal rhythms of the heart can develop.

Potassium deficiency

The common cause of potassium deficiency is an excessive fluid loss which can happen through vomiting, kidney disease, and the use of certain diuretic medicines.


Zinc deficiency causes loss of taste, smell, and appetite. It can decrease the function of the immune system and growth rate. 


The deficiency of this mineral can result in goiter. The major sign is a swelling in the base of your neck. The symptoms include difficulty in swallowing and breathing, hoarseness in voice, coughing, etc.


Sodium deficiency is also known as hyponatremia and it arises from excessive fluid loss. It generally occurs due to severe dehydration and prolonged deficiency can lead to heart diseases. 


Deficiency of phosphorus leads to formation of underdeveloped teeth and bone.


Manganese is important for bone growth and cartilage development. A deficiency can lead to teeth grinding, convulsions, muscle contractions, vision and hearing problems in children. It causes hypertension, atherosclerosis and heart diseases in adults 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How Can We Prevent Deficiency Diseases?

Vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases can be easily prevented if we maintain a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. This can easily be achieved if we follow some simple steps:

  • Include vitamin and mineral-rich food in the diet

  • Eat simple and wholesome food like soybeans, pulses etc.

  • Vitamin in food denatures if the food is overcooked, so avoid prolonged cooking.

  • Include mineral and vitamin supplements in the diet

  • Food fortification, which is a process of adding micronutrients to food is a health policy that is followed in countries where a large chunk of the population is malnourished. It is carried out to prevent deficiency diseases on a large scale in these areas.

  • Genetically engineered products are also being used to prevent deficiency diseases.

2. Name Diseases Caused By the Deficiency of Vitamin C

The deficiency of vitamin C results in a rare disease called Scurvy. The symptoms are anaemia, exhaustion, and spontaneous bleeding, debility, pain in limbs, and swelling in some parts of the body. Scurvy occurs when plasma concentration falls below 0.2 mg/dL. It can be treated with oral or intravenous Vitamin C supplements. Other diseases of vitamin C deficiency include gum disease and connective tissue problems.

3. List 10 Nutritional Deficiency Diseases

Nutritional Deficiency Diseases:  Diseases caused by the deficiency of vitamins and minerals

Deficient Nutrient






Keshan disease


Vitamin B1


Vitamin C




Vitamin B3


Vitamin A

Night blindness



Vitamin A