Nutrition & Diet

Nutrition forms the foundation building blocks of our health and determines our physiological, cognitive, emotional, physical and athletic functioning. Nutrition is part of our environment and influences our development from the womb to adulthood and old age. Good nutrition helps maintain our immune system but also reduces our risk for many conditions, many of which are environmental and age related.

Research has evidenced close links between diet and illness e.g. digestive disorders, osteoporosis,  Despite this most health practitioners receive very little formal education in nutrition and too few doctors recognise the connection between clinical disorders, recovery and poor nutrition. There are a number of public health initiatives in the UK that focus on promoting diet and nutrition education however we still have a long way to go.

Physically demanding jobs such as athletes, dancers, builders and others experience greater physical body stress and have an increased risk of muscular and skeletal injuries. For this reason they have added nutritional requirements. Through our lifetime our needs constantly change because of changes in our general growth, reproduction, storage, and maintenance at different times of our life.

  • Babies, infants and children have growing demands and good nutrition will enable better growth, fewer infections and improved academic performance.
  • Adults with improved nutrition will experience less fatigue, mental health and reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  • Pregnant Mothers will have fewer risks of pregnancy complications as well as their newborn baby having problems with low birth weight, abnormalities or being underdeveloped.
  • Elderly people are at risk of under nutrition and diseases such as, osteoporosis, dementia and infections.

Functional Medicine is an emerging healthcare field that focuses on maintaining the body’s molecular environment which is dependent on the interaction of a person’s genes with macronutirents, micronutrients and conditionally essential nutrients. It looks at nutrition at the biomolecular level and considers nutrients as important controls for biological function. Most people accept that their diet may need some improvement, but don’t known what changes to make or how it will benefit them.

Table: Examples of nutritional deficiencies.

Some common features
Muscle wasting and weakness; dull, dry and depigmented hair; swelling in the legs.
Loss of fat generally and around the hips; dry scaly skin.
Low blood sugar levels
Vitamin A
Dry eyes; night blindness
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Fatigue; muscle weakness and tenderness; tingling, burning sensation or numbness of the skin
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Cracks at the corners of the mouth and peeling of skin on the lips; sore tongue
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Sore tongue; diarrhoea; red scaly skin on exposed areas.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Anaemia, irritability, swollen tongue
Irritability, cracks at corners of mouth, swollen tongue
Hair loss; dry scaly skin; swollen tongue, cracks at corners of mouth
Anaemia; irritability; mouth ulcers; smooth shiny tongue
Vitamin C
Bleeding gums; depression; fatigue; bony tenderness
Vitamin D
In childhood rickets, delayed eruption of teeth, bony deformities; weakening of bones; bone tenderness.
Vitamin E
Muscle weakness; anaemia, damage to peripheral nerves
Vitamin K
Excessive bleeding
Weak bones; malformed bones in children
Ineffective blood sugar control
Anaemia, neurological disorders
Hypothyroidism; Goitre
Brittle or spoon shaped nails; anaemia; behavioural changes
Muscle pains and cramps; fatigue;
Loss of appetite; loss of taste;


Revised: Jan 2015