Vitamin Deficiency

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Vitamin Deficiency

Compared to women, men undergo a greater decrease in food intake over their lifespans.1 In fact, by their seventieth birthday most men consume nearly 1000 kcal to 1200 kcal less than they did during their period of peak consumption (typically late teens to early twenties).2 This decrease in food intake can lead to vitamin deficiency. Additionally, there are many other potential causes of vitamin deficiencies in men of all ages.

Vitamin deficiency can increase an individual’s risk of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.3 Consult your physician if you think you are at increased risk for vitamin deficiency or suboptimal vitamin status. The following list includes several primary causes of vitamin deficiencies:

  • Declining Food Intake with Aging – As noted above, food intake decreases with aging. Therefore, elderly men are at greater risk for vitamin deficiencies. Elderly men are specifically at greater risk for vitamin B12 deficiency and Vitamin D deficiency.3

  • Food Faddism – In addition to declining food intake, food faddism (trendy diets) can lead to unbalanced diets that lack recommended vitamin intakes. Specific vitamin deficiencies depend on the type of food faddism.

  • Alcoholism – Alcohol dependent individuals are at greater risk for deficiencies of water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin B1, B6, B12, and Folate.

  • Hemodialysis – Individuals on dialysis are at greater risk for vitamin C deficiency because dialysis can remove water-soluble vitamin C. Additionally, dialysis can contribute to vitamin D deficiency.4

  • Living in cold weather climates – Lack of modest sun exposure can lead to vitamin D deficiency. An inadequate vitamin D is a common problem among individuals in cold weather climates, especially during the cold weather months.3

1. Morley JE. Anorexia of aging: physiologic and pathologic. Am J Clin Nutr. Oct 1997; 66 (4): 760-773.
2. VLunenfield B, Gooren LJG, Morales A, Morley JE. Textbook of Men’s Health and Aging. 2nd ed. London, UK 2007.
3. Fairfield KM, Fletcher RH. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review. JAMA. Jun 2002; 287 (23): 3116-3126.
4. Bhan I, Burnett-Bowie SA, Ye J, Tonelli M, Thadhani R. Clinical measures identify vitamin D deficiency in dialysis. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. Mar 2010; 5 (3): 460-467.