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Vitamin deficiencies

5 April 2012, by CHAINE B.


Vitamin deficiencies are often considered to be a thing of the past in the industrialised world, and their primary clinical symptoms and signs are poorly known. While they are certainly rarer in the West than in the developing countries, they are nonetheless more common than thought [8].

Vitamin deficiencies are common in poor countries as a result of malnutrition, an imbalanced diet or insufficient intake of vitamin-rich foods. These selective deficiencies cause a recognisable set of clinical symptoms and signs (table I). Severe global malnutrition causes such conditions as marasmus or kwashiorkor, in which multiple vitamin deficiencies are present and combined with trace element deficiencies [9, 26].

Vitamin deficiencies in the affluent West tend to be selective in nature. They arise as a result of a discrepancy between supply and demand for a given vitamin and are more often linked to the body’s inability to use the vitamin correctly than inadequate dietary intake.

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