Food Deficiency

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An Introduction 

Food deficiency or Nutritional deficiency is the condition when the body doesn’t receive food or cannot absorb the necessary amount of a nutrient required for the body. Deficiency of food nutrients in the body may lead to a variety of health problems including stunted growth, skin disorders, dementia, defective bone growth and digestion problems. As we know the nutrients which are the substances present in food that maintains growth, health, reproduction and prevents diseases of an organism. Taking in nutrition involves various bodily processes including ingestion, absorption, biosynthesis, assimilation, catabolism and excretion. It helps in maintaining good health and disease-free lives. 

Nutrients are the substances that provide nourishment which is essential for maintaining life and growth. Major nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet consists of all of the nutrients in the right amount required by a living body depending upon the age, weight, height and sex of a person. Deficiency of nutrients may cause various disorders and multiple nutritional diseases are known that cause abnormal conditions in the body making one uncomfortable. 

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Nutritional Deficiency Disorders

  • Deficiency in various nutrients causes respective nutritional deficiencies, for example,  carbohydrates deficiency diseases include ketosis which causes excessive breakdown of protein leading to fatigue, decreased energy level and reduced fiber intake by the body. This deficiency of carbohydrate leads to symptoms like a dry mouth, headache and fruity smelling breath. 

  • Similarly, a disease caused by deficiency of protein is Kwashiorkor which is a severe form of malnutrition; here, this disease caused by lack of protein causes an osmotic imbalance in the gastrointestinal system that causes swelling of the gut and retention of water called edema.

  • Fat deficiency diseases are related to essential fatty acid deficiency and it occurs rarely and is seen in infants' diets. Its signs include alopecia, dermatitis, intellectual disability and thrombocytopenia.

  • We will further list down all nutritional deficiencies in a chart with the respective nutrient and also know about the sources of food that helps in preventing the food deficiency.

Nutritional Deficiency Diseases List


Sources of Nutrients 

Associated Deficiency Diseases

Symptoms of Deficiency Diseases


Whole grains, cereals, legumes, potatoes, cheese, pasta, bread, etc.

Hypoglycemia and Ketoacidosis

For hypoglycemia- An irregular or fast heartbeat, pale skin, shakiness, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, hunger.

For ketoacidosis- Excessive thirst, frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain.


Eggs, chicken, yogurt, almonds, cottage cheese, oats, seafood, pulses, beans, milk, etc.

Marasmus and Kwashiorkor

Marasmus- weight loss, dehydration, chronic diarrhea, stomach shrinkage.

Kwashiorkor- loss of muscle mass, an enlarged tummy ("pot belly") and regular infections, or more serious or long-lasting infections.


Ghee, Butter, cheese, avocados, dark chocolate, fatty fish, nuts, chia seeds, etc.

Scaly dermatitis, thrombocytopenia, alopecia, intellectual disability in children

Scaly and patchy skin, dull skin


Eggs, bread, nuts, seaweed, iodized table salt, dairy products

Goitre, Hypothyroidism and Anaemia

Goitre- A tight feeling in your throat, swelling at neck base, coughing, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and difficulty breathing.
Hypothyroidism- Fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin, weight gain, constipation.


Dates, blackberries, egg, millk, almonds, wheat, sesame seeds, soybeans, pomegranate, etc.

Hypocalcemia, cataracts, alterations in the brain, brittle bones and osteoporosis

Weak bones, pain in body parts


Onions, fresh fruits, sweet potato, broccoli, eggs, milk, pumpkin seeds, etc.

Hyponatremia, seizures, coma

Headache, confusion, restlessness, vomiting, nausea


Pomegranate, Dates, beef, oats, tuna, passion fruits, etc.

Rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults, Hypophosphatemia

Bone pain, muscle weakness

Vitamin A- Retinol

Ripe yellow fruits, green leafy vegetables, fruits, milk, guava, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, broccoli, watermelon, nuts, etc.

Hyperkeratosis, keratomalacia and blindness

Blisters, calluses, corns, thickened skin can be seen in hyperkeratosis; and it affects eyes with low and blurred visibility

Vitamin B1- Thiamine

Potatoes, peas, fresh fruits, corn, cashew nuts, milk, wheat, dates, black beans, etc.


Difficulty walking, loss of feeling sensation in hands and feet, loss of muscle function, pain, mental confusion

Vitamin B2- Riboflavin

Dates, banana, mushrooms, mangoes, grapes, pumpkin, popcorn, soybeans, etc.

Sore eyes, Slow growth

Eyes pain

Vitamin B3- Niacin

Fish, eggs, meat, milk products, mushroom, guava, cereals, etc.


Delusions, diarrhea, weakness, pain in abdomen, inflamed mucous membrane 

Vitamin C

Black currant, fresh fruits, broccoli, chestnuts, goat milk, etc.

Scurvy and Gum bleeding

Swollen gums, loose teeth, bulging eyes

Vitamin D

Fish, liver, egg, beef, cod, chicken breast, etc.

Rickets and osteomalacia

Weak bones

Vitamin E

Potatoes, guava, mango, pumpkin, milk, nuts, seeds, etc.

Hemolysis, heart problems and sterility

Abnormal paleness or lack of color of the skin, dark coloured urine, fever, weakness, yellowish skin, eyes, and mouth (jaundice)

Vitamin K

Broccoli, Tomatoes, beef, Cashew Nuts, chestnuts, mangoes, lamb, grapes, etc.


Sudden severe headache, seizures, weakness in arm or leg, lethargy, changes in vision

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. List 10 Nutritional Deficiency Diseases.

Following are the ten dietary deficiency caused due to lack of major nutrients, vitamins and minerals in the food.

  1. Osteoporosis (Due to deficiency of Calcium)

  2. Goiter (Deficiency of Iodine)

  3. Anemia (Deficiency of Iron)

  4. Pellagra (Deficiency of Vitamin B3- Niacin)

  5. Scurvy (Deficiency of Vitamin C)

  6. Beriberi (Deficiency of Vitamin B1)

  7. Hemorrhage (Deficiency of Vitamin K)

  8. Hyperkeratosis (Deficiency of Vitamin A)

  9. Hypoglycemia (Deficiency of Carbohydrates)

  10. Marasmus/Kwashiorkor  (Deficiency of proteins)

2. Which are the Diseases Caused by Vitamins Deficiency?

Scurvy, Pellagra, Beriberi and Rickets are some of the diseases caused by the deficiency of vitamins. These nutritional deficiency diseases are caused due to no availability of enough nutrients in the food to absorb for the body and perform essential functions related to the respective body parts or processes. 

3. What Should be Done to Prevent Deficiency Diseases?

Deficiency diseases can be prevented if we consume a balanced diet consisting of all nutrients in the right amount. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals should all be present in the daily routine diet we consume. If we find symptoms of any deficiency disease, we should right away go to the doctor and take advice for the right diet or supplements we should take in order to treat the disease. Depending upon the age, height, sex and weight, a nutritionist will provide a diet chart for your wellness that helps you treat the deficiencies in the body.