Malnutrition can lead to a number of diseases and health problems due to a lack of essential nutrients in the body. Here are ten of the most common diseases related to malnutrition:
1. Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM): This refers to a group of malnutrition diseases caused by a lack of protein and energy in the diet. The most severe forms of PEM are kwashiorkor (characterized by edema or swelling, particularly in the legs and face) and marasmus (extreme thinness and wasting).
2. Iron Deficiency Anemia: Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the diet, which leads to fewer and smaller red blood cells being produced by the body. This can cause fatigue, weakness, and a decreased immune response.
3. Vitamin A Deficiency: Vitamin A is necessary for vision and immune function. Deficiency in this vitamin can lead to night blindness and an increased risk of infection. In severe cases, it can cause blindness.
4. Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD): Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate growth and metabolism. Lack of iodine can lead to goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism. In severe cases, it can lead to cretinism in children, which is characterized by stunted physical and mental growth.
5. Rickets/Osteomalacia: These are conditions that affect bone development in children (rickets) and bone density in adults (osteomalacia), both caused by a deficiency in vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. Rickets can cause bone pain, delayed growth, and skeletal deformities, while osteomalacia can result in bone pain and muscle weakness.
6. Scurvy: This is caused by vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, a protein that helps to maintain the integrity of skin, blood vessels, bones, and connective tissue. Scurvy can cause fatigue, swollen gums, joint pain, and anemia.
7. Beriberi: This is caused by a deficiency in thiamine (vitamin B1), and it can lead to weight loss, emotional disturbances, impaired sensory perception, weakness and pain in the limbs, and periods of irregular heartbeat. Severe cases can cause heart failure.
8. Pellagra: Pellagra is a disease caused by a deficiency of niacin (vitamin B3). It’s characterized by the four Ds: Dermatitis, Diarrhea, Dementia, and, if not treated, Death.
9. Zinc Deficiency: Zinc is important for growth and development, the immune response, neurological function, and reproduction. Zinc deficiency can cause growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function. In more severe cases, zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, eye and skin lesions, and taste abnormalities.
10. Vitamin K Deficiency: This vitamin is necessary for normal blood clotting. A deficiency can lead to excessive bleeding, which can be particularly dangerous for newborns.
It’s important to note that the prevalence of these diseases can vary widely depending on geographic location, dietary practices, and access to healthcare. The best way to prevent them is to maintain a balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients.