Malnutrition; what hinders nutrient ingestion and utilization?

plate with minute food, showing food inadequacy

What is this Malnutrition?

Most know malnutrition as nutrient deficiency, forgetting that it's also excessive nutrient intake or nutrient toxicity. Nutrient deficit and toxicity occur when an individual consumes less nourishing substances or excess as opposed to the reference intakes.


How malnutrition is a challenge to young developing kids?

The challenge arises when the best feeding habits and nutrition are not applicable together with proper guidance on which meals to take. 

Malnutrition is a challenge to young developing children since they rely on and require guidance on how they should take their meals to prevent deficit or toxicity, A special diet is suggested to build their foundation in the early stages of life.

How do good nutrition shapes a child's foundation and development?

Do you know that food you offer to the young developing child has an impact? just before the child reaches 6 months exclusive breastfeeding is essential then afterwards complementary foods are introduced after six months.

The introduced complementary foods work effectively and shape the child's foundation only if planned well. If proper care is not taken the children's health deteriorates.

Good nutrition prevents them from acquiring protein-energy malnutrition. Their guardians should know that their vigorous developing children require enough calories and proteins in their diets, their nutrient requirements can be met when snacks are provided in between meals and finger foods in preschools. 

Malnutrition is seen to affect households with food insecurity. The vulnerable people tend to be affected most; women of childbearing age are at risk of malnutrition in case of food shortage, inaccessibility to health care to acquire nutritional counselling to direct and give interventions concerning malnutrition. Women of childbearing age with poor nutrition tend to have complications when they enter the vital stages such as pregnancy and even their health affects the developing fetus.


Causes of Malnutrition;


These factors can put one at risk of contracting malnutrition:


Poor dietary practices- Individuals with poor feeding habits like skipping meals or restricting themselves from having meals and excessive nutrient intake compared to what their body uses are at risk of being malnourished.

Skipping meals lowers someone's metabolism, hence affecting the number of meals consumed per day, hence inadequate nutrient intake.


Food insecurity- unavailability of adequate foods in the household influences one nutrient intake. Food insecurity leads one to poor dietary patterns such as skipping meals. Most are unable to afford a balanced diet which leads to poor feeding habits.


Mal-absorption - one is unable to absorb nutrients ingested from their diet. The cause of this might be gastrointestinal disorders, medications that have led to drug-nutrient interaction, thus affecting nutrient absorption. Individuals with these problems should check it out with their doctors and dietitians.

Poor feeding habits are consuming food with some substances like caffeine and alcohol which hinders nutrients like calcium and iron absorption.



Excessive nutrient intake. It's determined by a body mass index of more than 24.5kg/m2, which is above the ideal BMI. Overweight individuals who haven't received interventions to correct the condition are at risk of being obese. They develop unhealthy nutritional status. They are unable to perform simple physical activities and house chores.


What can lead to obesity;


Being overweight having a body mass index more than ideal one will put one at risk of being obese if not corrected.


Sedentary life- being inactive will influence one to accumulate fats in the body. 

High-calorie intake is more than the individual's daily requirement. An individual consumes more than they burn. Excess calorie intake will influence excess glucose to be stored and converted by liver cells to fats.


Being obese contributes to;


Hyperglycemia- elevated glucose levels in the blood. Blood sugars go above normal which is more than 8.5 mmol/litre.


Hypercholesterolemia- elevated serum cholesterol levels. The bad cholesterol or fatty plaques accumulate in the walls of the blood vessels. Excess stored fats concentrate in the blood and blood vessels putting one at risk of atherosclerosis.

Hypertension- high blood pressure, since accumulated fats in the arteries narrow the arteries thus slowing blood flow giving the heart a hard time pumping blood, the heart, therefore, increases pumping rate, the blood exerts pressure against narrow artery walls.


Obesity control and management;


Physical activity- exercising the body will aid in breaking excess fats and burning some calories.

Avoid saturated fats- when obese limit fat intake or opt for healthy fats which are unsaturated from plant products.

Fibre consumption- opt for complex carbohydrates because they contain fibre rather than refined foods, without fibre (high glycemic index foods). Complex carbohydrates have fibre that regulates glucose absorption, bind fat preventing their absorption.

Consume less dense calories from vegetables and fruits- vegetables and fruits are dense in micronutrients and low in calories.



Nutrient deficit and characterized by a body mass index of less than 18.5kg/m2, individuals in this group have worn out subcutaneous tissue. Obesity is not only the cause of chronic diseases whereas being underweight is also a risk of disorders like dental problems that is teeth not strong, osteoporosis described as low bone density due to calcium deficiency, infertility, failure of certain organs, and death risk.


Is being underweight good?

Individuals prefer to be less in weight than being overweight which is a risk of excessive fats in the body and obesity. Humans should be having ideal body weight and body mass index to stay healthy. Having a lean body with strong bones and tissues is good than possessing a heavy body full of fats, or weak bones. Being underweight also contributes to some health problems, including less bone density associated with calcium deficit for calcification as described above( osteoporosis and dental problems).

Underweight management;

Increase calorie intake to meet the energy expenditure and spear protein utilization to form energy. Protein should be speared to allow the nutrient to regenerate worn-out structures.

Opt for to right dietary practices such as eating small meals frequently rather than eating large meals at a time that makes digestion and absorption difficult.

Consume whole grains and nuts, nuts will help regenerate fatty tissues.

Consume protein-rich foods from both animal and plant products.

What hinders nutrient ingestion and utilization?

Do you have problems that impact your nutrient ingestion, or utilization, is this the main reason your nutritional status is declining, or poor? here are the related reasons for not gaining weight due to nutrient intake and utilization  issues;


Metabolic disorders- conditions like hyperthyroidism which increases energy need and metabolism. The release of excess thyroid hormone in the body does not hinder nutrient ingestion, or utilization but increases the metabolism rate which mostly results in weight loss.

Food insecurity- household food unavailability can make you unable to afford a balanced diet to keep you healthy, some worry, if they eat all meals food, will be exhausted, for this reason, they skip meals to conserve for future use.


Malabsorption -unable to absorb nutrients from your diet. This occurs due to medications and gastrointestinal disorders such as chronic pancreatitis or surgery of the intestine.


Medication- the reason you might be undernourished is that the drugs you take interact with nutrients lowering nourishing materials absorption and bio-availability. In case you detect this problem and such changes in your body check with your doctor and dietitian.


Poor feeding habits and heavy physical activity- your dietary practice is poor( Your skipping meals, restricting yourself from eating right) and yet you are vigorous and perform activities that burn a lot of calories hence your body fails to meet energy needs.

Dysphagia- are you experiencing swallowing difficulties? this might be the issue your nourishing material in the system required to build and rebuild the body is declining. When nourishing substances are required to form body structures decline, catabolism will take over to break the body's complex molecules into energy.

 Catabolism is dangerous since body mass will be worn out leading to being underweight which is malnutrition. 

 If experiencing swallowing difficulty it's better to get in touch with your doctor for treatment.

Edward K.E

Nutrition fit health for all

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