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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Common Deficiencies

Ever wondered why drinking milk helps you sleep better? Or why you feel light headed or dizzy when you stand up? Or why you feel low and unmotivated for no particular reason?

Chances are your body is deficient in one or more nutrients.

It is very important to maintain a nutritious balanced diet.

Nutritious food serves as a fuel for the body and is the key to maintaining a healthy life.

Nutrients can be classified into micronutrients and macronutrients depending on the quantity that our body requires.

Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are required in smaller quantities and macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins are required in larger quantities.

Keep in mind that both these nutrients are equally important to the body and that lack of either or both can cause all sorts of symptoms and disorders in all levels of extent.

The human body is so biologically well designed that when lacking any nutrients, it starts to send signs in the form physical changes warn you.

Our body could show symptoms like continuous tiredness, dry and brittle hair, issues in mood and mental health, slow immune responses, change in bowel habits etc.

It is possible for a person to be deficient in almost all nutrients these days. This is because the use of tin or processed food has been popularised and in general people do not maintain or plan out their meals according to a balanced diet.

Moreover, vegans and vegetarians seem to be at higher risks.

Here’s a list of 6 common deficiencies and symptoms to look out for:

  1. Protein Deficiency

Proteins are long chain amino acids that serve as building blocks of muscles, blood, important pigments and bones.

They are important not the immune system and take part in biochemical reactions of the body in the form of enzymes.


  1. Loss of muscle mass- Proteins are important for the formation and growth. The primary role of proteins is to repair muscles and produce energy for contraction. Hence, deficiency of proteins will lead to muscle problems.

Credits: pixabay Caption: muscle problems due to protein deficiency

  1. Problems with hair, nails and skin – Proteins are used to make two main structures of hair, nail and skin- keratin and collagen.

To boost your natural keratin and collagen, it is important to have sufficient amount of protein consumption. Therefore, protein deficiency will cause damage to the hair, nail and skin.

  1. Constant hunger- Consumption of protein-rich food keeps the body satisfied for a long period of time and controls cravings and binge eating. Lack of protein consumption leaves the body feeling hungrier than normal.

  2. Brittle bone and increased risk in bone fracture- This is because proteins are responsible for the maintenance of the strength and density of bones. Protein deficiency will weaken the bones and make them prone to fracture.

  3. Fatty liver– Lack of protein leads to the development of fatty liver disease. This causes inflammation, liver scarring and potential liver failure.

  4. Combination of vitamin D, vitamin E and calcium deficiency

Skin discoloration is triggered by various factors. Vitamin D, Vitamin E and calcium deficiencies cause white patches to appear on the face and skin.

Role of these nutrients on the skin:

Vitamin D : It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and helps soothe the skin. Most importantly, it is the only vitamin that can be synthesized in the skin and is responsible for skin pigmentation. It also helps the body absorb calcium.

Calcium plays a major role in skin pigmentation. It’s deficiency has been linked to re-pigmentation, eczema and psoriasis.

Vitamins E: It’s antioxidant and photoprotective nature shields the skin from damages caused by the UV light and helps maintain even skin tone.

  1. Calcium deficiency- Abnormally low levels of calcium in the body is known as hypocalcemia. Calcium is concentrated in the bones and very small amounts are found in the bloodstream.

Dietary calcium enters the blood through the small intestine and then exists through urine via kidneys.

        Credit: pexel          Caption: dizziness due to hypocalcemia


  1. Fatigue- Low levels of calcium can cause insomnia and other Symptoms like lightheadedness, dizziness, lack of focus, forgetfulness, and confusion.

This is why dairy products like warm milk are consumed during bedtime as calcium ions present in dairy helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan, which is also present, to produce melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep.

  1. Osteoporosis and Dental problems- About 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and hence is an important component of the bone. If the body does not have enough calcium, it will start obtaining the calcium stored in bones. This leads to a decrease in bone density and strength, making the bones brittle and increasing risk of fractures.

  2. Muscle problem – Calcium ion helps muscles move. Reduced calcium levels increases neuronal excitability causing neuromuscular irritability and muscle spasms. First, the person will experience numbness and tingling sensation. As it progresses muscle spasms cause wheezing, voice change, bronchial spasm and swallowing muscle spasm.

  3. Issues with mental health – Calcium deficiency is strongly linked to depression. It is an important mineral for the functioning of nerves and is a natural sedative for calm and relaxing effects.

Credits: pixabay  Caption: white blood cells engulfing bacteria/pathogens

  1. Leukocyte adhesion deficiency (LAD)

Leukocytes are known as white blood cells. They are an important component of the blood. Their main function is to travel to the site of inflammation and engulf bacteria to protect the body from infection.

LAD is an inherited immunodeficiency where these specific leukocytes, known as phagocytes, fail to bind to the walls of the blood vessels. When this happens the phagocytes are not able to migrate to the site of injury and engulf the bacteria.

LAD is caused due to a mutation in the gene of molecules that binds phagocytes to the endothelial cells of the blood vessels.

This poses a serious threat to a person’s health by directly affecting the immune system’s inability to fight off pathogens.


  1. Chronic infection – This is due to the poor immune system.

  2. Delayed wound healing as the phagocytes cannot stick to blood vessels and perform quick phagocytosis. This leads to poorly formed blueish scars.

  3. Delayed in umbilical cord separation in infants. This is because the umbilical cord gets separated from the infant when the cells near the tip begin to quickly die by getting engulfed by WBC. This helps the cord shrink the finally separate but this process is prolonged in infants with LAD.

Other symptoms include:

  1. Absent of pus formation

  2. Bleeding complications

  3. Urinary tract infections

  4. Recurring tonsillitis

  5. Bone marrow failure

  6. Vaginitis

The life expectancy of a LAD patient is extremely short without


  1. Iron deficiency

The most common iron deficiency is called anemia.

Iron is one of the most essential minerals required by the body as it is an important component of haemoglobin.

Haemoglobin makes up the red blood cells (RBC), it’s sole purpose is to travel to cells and carry oxygen around the body.

If our organs and tissues do not receive enough oxygen, it will not function as respiration cannot take place. This essentially means that no energy will be produced in the form of ATP.

Credits: pixabay Caption : Lack of haemoglobin


  1. Constant tiredness- lack of oxygen causes the muscles and tissues to lack the energy (ATP) to do work.

  2. Paleness – Haemoglobin gives the RBCs it’s red colour. Absence of it causes the blood beneath the skin to lose colour leading to a pale appearance.

  3. Shortness of breath – Due to absence of haemoglobin, gaseous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot take place.

  4. Imbalance and dizziness- This is due to the shortage of oxygen supply to the brain cells.

  5. Tongue problems- Myoglobin is a protein in the RBCs that supports the tongue muscles. Lack of haemoglobin in RBCs causes the tongue to swell and become sore.

  6. Irregular heartbeat- Due to low supply of oxygen in the blood, the heart muscles have to do extra work to pump in more blood than normal. This causes irregular heartbeats.

Credits: pexel Caption : difficulty breathing due to Anemia

  1. assium Deficiency

Low amount of potassium level in your diet is known as hypokalemia.

Potassium is important for the normal functioning of all cells, helps regulate the heartbeat, proper function of the muscles and nerves, protein synthesis and metabolism.


  1. Muscles cramps, spasm, aches and stiffness – The pain starts from the leg and works itself up and could even risk paralysis.

  2. Shortage of breath- Hypokalemia does not only cause problems for the skeletal muscles but respiratory muscles as well. This leads to difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

  3. Problems in digestion system- The gastrointestinal muscles in the stomach and intestines also become weak causing problems in digestion.

Credits: pexel Caption : Digestive problems due to potassium deficiency

  1. Heart problems – When blood ,with normal levels of potassium, flows through heart cells, it regulates the heartbeat.

Low levels of potassium can alter this flow and result in irregular heartbeat.

In addition, the hypokalemia could lead to more serious heart diseases like arrhythmias, ventricular tachycardia and coronary ischemia.

  1. Moodiness and stress- In coronary ischemia, the heart does not receive an adequate amount of blood. This causes stress and leads to the release of epinephrine to increase absorption of potassium. However, the side effects of epinephrine in the blood is stress, dizziness, moodiness, tiredness, nausea and fatigue.

  2. Renal problems- Low levels lead to an increase in bicarbonates, ammonia and and blood pressure and decrease in sodium levels and concentrating ability in the kidneys.

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