Avitaminosis: The Lack of Vitamins

January 3, 2020
Avitaminosis is a failure or deficiency in the number of vitamins our bodies require to function properly. Why does it happen? How does it affect our health? Keep reading to find out more!

Avitaminosis is the total absence of vitamins in a body. However, this is a very rare condition. Hypovitaminosis, a deficiency of vitamin D, is a lot more common. Vitamins are necessary nutrients for our bodies. However, it’s relatively easy not to get the recommended daily amounts when you don’t follow a balanced diet that contains all food groups.

Causes of Avitaminosis

Overall, our bodies need relatively small amounts of vitamins if we compare them with the amount of protein and carbohydrates we must consume. However, many people don’t get enough vitamins.

A plate with a pea.
Restrictive diets that suppress certain food groups can lead to avitaminosis.

Very restrictive diets can lead to avitaminosis. These types of diets prevent the intake of minimum vitamin recommendations. However, we’re not just referring to weight-loss fads here. These diets may be due to external food circumstances in the case of famines, droughts, military conflicts, or refugee movements.

However, this condition often originates due to self-imposed limitations. This includes overly strict diets that lack professional supervision and eliminate basic food groups. Also, it includes inadequate and maintained dietary habits over extended periods.

You may be interested: Six Vitamins You Must Have in Your Diet

Increase in nutritional needs

Also, it’s possible to develop a deficiency due to breastfeeding, for example. Also, a rapid stage of development or too much intense physical activity could cause this condition. In these cases, despite eating more or less similar, a deficiency happens because these are situations where you require a higher intake of vitamins.

Increased vitamin losses

This can become a problem if it goes on overtime. Also, it’s quite common in the case of diseases that occur with chronic diarrhea, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases or food intolerances.


A study published in the American Journal of Public Health medical journal points out that this habit usually destroys much of vitamin C. So, increase your consumption of this vitamin if you smoke.


According to a publication in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, many patients with chronic alcoholism are malnourished. This may occur due to two reasons. First, they may not nourish themselves properly and lack essential nutrients. On the other hand, alcohol prevents proper digestion and absorption of vitamins.

The vitamins

Vitamins start and stimulate all the biochemical activities of the body that are necessary for life and health. Therefore, they’re very important!

Overall, you can divide the 13 essential vitamins into two groups:

  • Water-soluble vitamins, which you must obtain daily as you excrete them almost immediately.
  • Non-water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamins, which your body stores for weeks or months.

To understand this condition better, we’ll take a look at what happens when it occurs with each type of vitamin.

Avitaminosis of water-soluble vitamins

A plate of food high in vitamin C.
Vitamin C avitaminosis and other water-soluble vitamins can influence the development of various diseases that affect your quality of life.
  • A lack of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, can lead to oral, dermatological and hair changes and increased fractures. Also, you can get Scurvy if you’re deficient in this vitamin.
  • Thiamine or Vitamin B1 deficiency can cause any problems. These include neurological, cardiovascular and psychiatric disorders. Also, Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome are a couple of clinical conditions that can appear due to thiamine deficiency.
  • Riboflavin or vitamin B2 deficiency triggers alterations in the mucous membranes, especially in the mouth and eyes. And, there may also be swelling of the tongue, dry eyes, and persistent tearing.
  • Niacin or vitamin B3 deficiency manifests through symptoms of gastrointestinal, dermatological and dementia disorders. Also, a disease called pellagra may appear.
  • Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5deficiency of this vitamin can cause dermatological, digestive and neurological disorders.
  • A pyridoxine or vitamin B6 deficit can cause anemia, and neurological, nervous and digestive problems.
  • Folic acid or vitamin B9 deficits may cause various problems. First, this kind of deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia. Also, the vitamin is essential for the proper development of a fetus.
  • A biotin or vitamin B8 deficiency might cause seizures, alopecia, dermatitis and delayed psychomotor development.
  • Cobalamin or vitamin B12 deficiency can cause pernicious anemia and neuromuscular or blood problems.

Read also: The Most Vitamin-Filled Foods

Avitaminosis of fat-soluble vitamins

  • Vitamin A has a very important role in vision. Therefore, a deficiency leads to nocturnal blindness. Plus, it could also weaken the immune system.
  • Vitamin D is important for bone health and to reduce the risk of fractures. Overall, this is the most common deficiency.
  • Vitamin K deficiency leads to hemorrhagic disease in newborns and hemorrhages in adults.
  • Vitamin E deficiency can cause hemolytic anemia and neurological deficits.

If you think you may be suffering from any of these deficiencies, it’s important to see your doctor. To overcome them, you must adhere to a healthy and balanced diet in which all food groups are included. Plus, if you can’t meet all your vitamin needs through food, then you can always opt for vitamin supplements.

Consult your doctor regarding the best options for you.


  • Álvarez, Manuel Joaquín Sotomayor, and Diana Guadalupe Zambrano Vera. “Déficit de Tiamina: Beriberi y síndrome de Wernicke-Korsakoff.” Medicina 13.2 (2008): 137-139
  • Schectman G, Byrd JC, Gruchow HW. The influence of smoking on vitamin C status in adults. Am J Public Health. 1989;79(2):158–162. doi:10.2105/ajph.79.2.158
  • Brown, Liz, and Jack Challem. Vitaminas y minerales esenciales para la salud. Ediciones Nowtilus, 2007.
  • Van den Berg, H., Van der Gaag, M., & Hendriks, H. (2002). Influence of lifestyle on vitamin bioavailability. In International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research (Vol. 72, pp. 53–59). Hogrefe and Huber Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1024/0300-9831.72.1.53
  • Kaufmann PA, Gnecchi-Ruscone T, di Terlizzi M, Schäfers KP, Lüscher TF, Camici PG. Coronary heart disease in smokers: vitamin C restores coronary microcirculatory function. Circulation 2000; 102:1233-1238
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