deficiency Diseases and their causes

Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) - Malnutrition includes both protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) and micronutrient deficiencies. Protein-energy malnutrition develops in children whose consumption of protein is insufficient. 

The children whose diet is deficient in protein, suffer from a disease called kwashiorkor. The symptoms of kwashiorkor such as underweight, poor brain development, loss of appetite, protruding belly, hair and skin discoloration, and thin curved legs.

Another disease that occurs due to prolonged protein-energy malnutrition is marasmus. It affects infants under the age of 1. 

Children suffering from this disease burn up all their body fats to meet their energy requirements and then consume their body protein to get energy. It results in being underweight, irreversible mental retardation, muscle degeneration, dry and wrinkled skin.

Micronutrients have also become major health problems worldwide. Children suffer from micronutrients such as iron, iodine, calcium, vitamin A deficiency. 

Deficiency of iron results in anemia among and pregnant women. An anemic victim suffers from low hemoglobin or fewer red blood cells in the blood. Results in less availability of oxygen to the various organs.

Vitamin A deficiency is a cause of mortality among children. Deficiency of vitamin  A disease caused such as Xerophthalmia and night blindness, weakening of the immune system, respiratory and gastrointestinal infection. 

Iodine deficiency impairs physical growth, causes goiter, and decreases the chances of survival of children. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage in the world.

Malnutrition affects the physical appearance and energy level and also impacts the children's mental function. It affects the learning ability.

"Diseases that are caused due to the lack of nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals, in the diet are called deficiency diseases. Deficiency diseases cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Govt of India has launched a program for school going children to encourage education in the rural area of India and prevent deficiency diseases."

To prevent deficiency diseases government of  India started the integrated child development scheme (ICDS) and Mid- Day Meal scheme for school-going children, they are provided nutritious food in the school. It has two motives.

  1. To promote education in rural areas of India,

  2. To prevent malnutrition in children.

Protein deficiency diseases:

Growing children need more protein in their diet, protein deficiency leads to a disease called kwashiorkor. Lack of protein leads to weakness in muscles.  Protein deficiency along with carbohydrates is called protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). These diseases are most common in children in rural areas.

Protein deficiency causes kwashiorkor disease and It has symptoms of  Large pot – like belly, Stunted growth, Swelling in the face and limbs, Skin diseases, Mental retardation, and Diarrhea.

For the prevention of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), we should eat protein-rich food, such as  Milk, Eggs, Pulses, Cereals, Meat, and Fish, etc.                                                                  

  Deficiency disease

Marasmus disease caused by the deficiency of carbohydrates. Marasmus is more common among infants and children under 5 years of age.

Sign and  symptom of carbohydrates deficiency
  • A child suffering from marasmus becomes very thin,
  • Shows slow body growth,
  • Lack of energy,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Weak legs,
  • Mental retardation,
  • Poor muscle development,
  • The child becomes so thin that loose folds of skin, seen all over the body,
  • The ribs of the child can be seen.
For prevention of marasmus giving carbohydrates rich food,
  • Rice,
  • Potato,
  • Maize.
  • Honey. 
  • Milk. 
  • Fruit

Iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid help in the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells.


  • deficiency of iron,

  • Deficiency of vitamin B12,

  • Folic acid.

  • The blood carries less oxygen in the body resulting in pale body color.
  • Tiredness,
  •  Loss of appetite,
  •  Loss of weight,
  •  Lack of stamina,
  •  Frequent headaches,
  •  White nails,
  •  Swelling in hands and feet.
For the prevention of anemia by giving iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid rich food. Such as,
  • Cereals,
  • Pulses,
  • Meat,
  • Green leafy vegetable,
  • Eggs,
  • Spinach.                                        

Iodine deficiency disease:
The goiter is an iodine deficiency disease. In this disease enlargement of the thyroid gland, mental retardation, retarded growth. Swelling of the thyroid gland.

Iodine deficiency cause goiter.


  • Swelling of the thyroid gland,
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland,
  • Mental retardation,
  • Retarded growth.
 For the prevention of the goiter by giving iodine-rich food such as
  •   Fish,
  •   Iodized salt,
  •   Seafood. 

Vitamin A deficiency disease:
Night blindness is a vitamin A deficiency disease. The person who suffers from night blindness cannot see in dim light.

Vitamin A deficiency cause night blindness.


  • Dryness of eyes.
  • Improper vision.
  • A person can not see at night.
The prevention of night blindness by eating vitamin A rich food such as –
  • Green leafy vegetable,
  • Fruits,
  • Butter,
  • Egg yolk,
  • Carrots,
  • Fish,
  • Spinach.

Vitamin B deficiency disease

This is a vitamin B deficiency disease. A person who suffers from beriberi disease is inflammation of nerves, digestive problems, and heart abnormalities.

Deficiency of vitamin B cause beriberi


  • Inflammation of a nerve,
  • digestive problem,
  • heart abnormalities
Vitamin D deficiency disease:
The vitamin is non-energy producing organic compound essential for normal metabolism, that must be supplied in small quantities in the diet. The importance of vitamins in the prevention and treatment of deficiency diseases. 

Vitamin deficiencies occur due to inadequate intake, malabsorption, increased tissue need, increase excretion, genetic abnormalities, and drug vitamin interaction. 

Vitamin deficiency symptoms appear only in long-time deprivation.
Rickets is a vitamin D deficiency disease. In this disease bones and joint has weakness and deformities and bending of the spine.

Vitamin D deficiency is found in such people. In pure vegetarians, elderly, obese people, in breastfeeding women and their newborn children. Rickets is a vitamin D deficiency disease.

Vitamin D deficiency in India, 

"In India, people of every age, gender, caste, and region suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Approximately 70 to 80% of Indians have vitamin deficiencies. According to the report of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, there was a lack of diagnostic D in North-India, newborns, school children, and pregnant women."


  • Due to high levels of melanin in the skin,
  • obesity,
  • Dress up, because in India and other regions people generally covered the whole body with the cloth so vitamin not prepared by sunlight.

Despite the lack of vitamin D, many people do not show any symptoms of deficiency. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are :

  • Fatigue,
  • Muscle cramps,
  • joint pain,
  • high blood pressure,(hypertension),
  • weight gain
  • The decrease in concentration.
  • Weak bones,
  • Joint and bone deformities like bow legs and pigeon chest,
  • Softening of ribs,
  • Protruding abdomen,
  • Bending of the spine.
Source of vitamin D,
  • Sunlight,
  • Food is rich in Vitamin D such as fish, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, etc.
  • In the case of deficiency of vitamin D, by consuming capsules or pills of Vitamin D, as prescribed by the doctor. The easiest way to meet vitamin D deficiency is the radiation of the sun when we sit in the sun, our skin produces vitamin D from sunlight. But when we are inside the house, vitamin D is not formed by our skin. And our body lacks vitamins.
  • Take milk,
  • Fish,
  • Eggs,
  • Sunlight.
How to vitamin D is checked?
Vitamin D is investigated by checking the blood spot in any laboratory. This test reveals the level of vitamin D.

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