Q & A: Which Foods Prevent These Deficiencies?
Lack of certain foods can cause deficiencies in vitamins, and these cause diseases. Vitamin deficiencies are most common in areas where people are malnourished because of famine, but some people on restricted diets do have to be careful about deficiencies.
BeriberiBeriberi is caused by a lack of thiamine (vitamin B1). Symptoms include tiredness, weakness and weight loss, with an irregular heart rate and other heart problems. It is common in areas hit by famine.
Question 1: Which foods will prevent beriberi?Answer: Beriberi will be prevented by eating plenty of foods rich in B vitamins, specifically vitamin B1. These include:
- Fruit and vegetables
PellagraPellagra is caused by a lack of niacin (vitamin B3), and is most common in areas where people rely on maize as a food source, as this is low in niacin. Symptoms are sometimes described as ‘the four Ds’ – diarrhoea, dermatitis, dementia and death. Other symptoms include:
- Photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight)
- Aggressive and emotional moods
- Weakness and confusion
Question 2:Which foods will prevent pellagra?Answer: Pellagra will be prevented by eating plenty of foods rich in B vitamins, specifically vitamin B3. These include:
ScurvyScurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C. Symptoms include pale skin with spots, bleeding, soft gums, and bleeding from other mucous membranes. Scurvy used to be common in sailors, because they didn’t eat much fresh food.
Question 3: Which foods will prevent scurvy?Answer: Foods rich in vitamin C will prevent scurvy – these include fruit and vegetables, and liver. Rose hips, blackcurrants and red peppers are particularly high in vitamin C.
RicketsRickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which helps the body use calcium to form strong teeth and bones. People with rickets will have soft bones which can become bent and break easily. Rickets is most common in people who don’t get enough sunlight, or who are malnourished.
Question 4: Which foods will prevent rickets?Answer: Foods rich in vitamin D will prevent rickets. These include:
- Oily fish
- Dairy products
Regular exposure to the sun will also prevent rickets, as the skin makes its own vitamin D.
XerophthalmiaLack of vitamin A is one of the causes of xerophthalmia. This makes the surface of the eye very dry, and can lead to blindness. It is most common in developing countries where the diet is limited.
Question 5: Which foods will prevent xerophthalmia?Answer: Foods rich in vitamin A will prevent xerophthalmia caused by a deficiency. These include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Dairy products
Megaloblastic AnaemiaMegaloblastic anaemia is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B9 (folic acid) and/or vitamin B12 (cobalamin). This means that red blood cells do not form properly.
Question 6: Which foods will prevent megaloblastic anaemia, and who is most likely to have problems with a lack of vitamin B12?Answer: Foods rich in vitamin B9 and B12 will prevent megaloblastic anaemia caused by this deficiency. These include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables (vitamin B9)
- Legumes (vitamin B9)
- Sunflower seeds (vitamin B9)
- Liver (vitamin B9 and vitamin B12)]
- Meat (vitamin B12)
- Fish (vitamin B12)
- Eggs (vitamin B9 and vitamin B12)
- Dairy products (vitamin B12)
It is particularly hard for vegans to get enough vitamin B12. Vegans can get some vitamin B complex from yeast and yeast extract and fortified foods or should take vegan-friendly supplements.
Blood Clotting ProblemsBlood clotting problems can be caused by a deficiency in vitamin K. A deficiency in vitamin K is rare in healthy adults, but does sometimes occur in newborn babies.
Question 7: Which foods will prevent a vitamin K deficiency?Answer: Foods rich in vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 will prevent blood-clotting problems related to this deficiency. These include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables (vitamin K1)
- Avocado (vitamin K1)
- Kiwifruit (vitamin K1)
- Meat (vitamin K2)
- Eggs (vitamin K2)
- Dairy (vitamin K2)
Vitamin K is also made by the friendly bacteria in the gut. Newborn babies don’t have these bacteria, so have an injection of vitamin K at birth.