When the small intestine is unable to properly process certain vitamins and nutrients, this condition is referred to a vitamin malabsorption. People who suffer from this condition cannot absorb essential vitamins that are included in food, which may cause physical weakness. This condition prevents both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins from being absorbed by the body, and there are many different causes of malabsorption.
The result of malabsorption often differs from patient to patient, though most patients will experience fatigue, weight loss, and general lethargy. There are many different reasons why poor vitamin absorption may occur, although the most common reasons are enzyme deficiency, surface area loss, bacterial overgrowth, mucosal abnormalities, and lymph vessel issues.
Enzyme deficiency occurs when the body does not have the chemicals or enzymes necessary in order to process certain foods. This type of deficiency can also be a direct result of pancreatic failure. When the pancreas cannot produce proper enzymes, the result is often vitamin malabsorption.
When a person has undergone any kind of bowel surgery, malabsorption may occur as a result of surface area loss. Following the removal of a portion of the bowel, the body may not be able to absorb nutrients properly. This type of malabsorption frequently occurs after any kind of bariatric surgery.
Bacterial overgrowth caused by damage to the intestinal lining can also lead to a vitamin deficiency. Numerous illnesses can cause bacterial overgrowth, including Whipple disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Further, a person who has been taking any kind of pump inhibitor may also experience bacterial overgrowth.
Mucosal abnormalities, such as Celiac disease, can also cause the body to reject certain vitamins and nutrients. Following damage done to the mucosal lining of the small intestine, it may be difficult for a person to absorb vitamins properly. Any type of mucosal infection can lead to malabsorption. Lastly, lymph vessel obstructions may prevent the body from absorbing vitamins efficiently. When lymph vessels become enlarged, they can no longer carry important nutrients to the blood, which causes a vitamin deficiency.
It is nearly impossible to detect vitamin malabsorption with the naked eye. Even though a person may experience symptoms of malabsorption, including fatigue and weight loss, only a qualified medical doctor can diagnose the condition. Once a person has been properly diagnosed, certain treatments can begin in order to restore necessary vitamins to the body. Treatments for malabsorption greatly vary depending upon the cause of the deficiency.