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Nutrient Deficiency Effects: How Does It Affect Your Health?

Nutrient Deficiency Effects: How Does It Affect Your Health?

Nutrient deficiency means that a person lacks specific nutrients that their body needs. Since nutrients have different roles in the body, nutrient deficiency effects can vary depending on a person’s health, and what nutrient they lack.

Continue reading to learn more about nutrient deficiency, why it happens, how it affects the body, what can be done about it, and how it can be prevented.

What Causes Nutrient Deficiency?

A person has nutrient deficiency if they are not getting enough essential nutrients from the food they eat. For example, a person who eats only meat and doesn’t eat vegetables can have a nutrient deficiency. Another example would be someone who doesn’t eat fruits, or only eats canned food for their meals.

People living in poverty are also more prone to nutrient deficiency. Fresh food can be expensive, so people in poverty-stricken areas rely on canned or instant food for sustenance. Eating only these types of foods day in and day out can be detrimental to their health since they are not getting the nutrients they need. However, this doesn’t mean that nutrient deficiency is exclusive to these communities1.

Poor dietary choices can also cause nutrient deficiency, even among populations who can afford to eat healthy food.

Nutrient Deficiency Effects on the Body

There are a number of possible nutrient deficiency effects on the body. Here are some of the symptoms that can appear:

Hair Loss

The first of the various nutrient deficiency effects on the body is hair loss. It’s fairly normal for some people to experience hair loss2, about 50 to 100 hair strands a day. However, if you’re losing more hair than usual, or if hair loss occurred suddenly, then it might be nutrient deficiency.

The most common cause of this symptom is a lack of iron in the body, though it could also be a sign of a thyroid problem. A lack of iodine could also be the culprit, as your thyroid needs iodine in order to function properly.

Burning Sensation in the Feet or Tongue

One of the possible nutrient deficiency effects is a burning sensation in the feet or tongue3. This symptom is particularly important to pay attention to, as it might signify a lack of vitamin B12 in the body.

Vitamin B12 helps the body produce hemoglobin, so a deficiency of B12 can severely affect a person’s health. Aside from this, B12 deficiency can also cause mild cognitive impairment, such as memory problems.

Vegans can be prone to vitamin B12 deficiency as a plant-based diet might not provide enough B12. Another concern with B12 deficiency is that it can take a while before the symptoms start to appear, so you might already be deficient without knowing it.

Slow Healing Wounds

For most of us, small wounds take only a short time before they start healing fully. But if you notice that your wounds aren’t healing as fast as before, it could mean that you might have a vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C is a key nutrient in wound healing, so a deficiency of it can make your wounds slow to heal. While these days, vitamin C deficiency is fairly rare, it can still happen if a person doesn’t eat any fruits or vegetables, nor takes any vitamin C supplements.

This can easily be remedied by adding some fresh fruit to your diet.

Being Prone to Fractures

If you frequently experience fractures, even with minor injuries, then it could be a sign of a calcium deficiency. Calcium is needed for strong bones, and a lack of calcium in the diet may cause a person’s bones to become weaker, and more prone to fractures4.

Increasing your intake of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, can help with resolving a calcium deficiency.

Learn more about Nutrition for Aging here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


1 Nutritional Deficiencies: Causes and Treatments | Ochsner Health, https://blog.ochsner.org/articles/nutritional-deficiencies-causes-and-treatments, Accessed October 18, 2021

2 Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/, Accessed October 18, 2021

3 6 Signs of Nutrient Deficiency | Rush System, https://www.rush.edu/news/6-signs-nutrient-deficiency, Accessed October 18, 2021

4 Is Your Body Trying to Tell You Something Possible Nutrient Inadequacies and Deficiencies, https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/is-your-body-trying-to-tell-you-something-common-nutrient-inadequacies-and-deficiencies, Accessed October 18, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Oct 18
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran