Larger than normal stool mass, abdominal pain, bloating and flatus are the first symptoms of malabsorption.
Should malabsorption endure, other symptoms will develop, related to the gravity and the duration of the
various deficiencies caused by malabsorption of food and of vitamins and minerals.
Here are a few examples of the health conditions triggered by the various deficiencies that may result
- Iron deficiency causes anemia in up to 20% of patients with malabsorption.
Iron deficiency results in anemia by reducing the supply of hemoglobin, the oxygen transporting pigment of
our red blood cells. Zinc is essential for many enzymes. The moost noticeable effect of a zinc deficiency
is that you loose your taste.
- Since malabsorption reduces the supply of folates (L),
the resulting folate deficiency will cause abnormal growth of the red blood cells. During their maturation
some of the cells will become microcytic (L) , some will become macrocytic (L) . Vitamin B12 will also be less absorbed. Vitamin B12
deficiency occurs late, where it may take up to 5 years to deplete the body store of vitamin B12. It should
be noted that vitamin B12 is the only vitamin where body storage can last that long. Vitamin B group deficiency alters the function of the cells in the nervous system, causing peripheral neuropathy (L) . Furthermore deficiency of the vitamin B group and particularly a deficiency of folates associated with vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 deficiency accelerates the inflammation of the arterial wall (arteriosclerosis) responsible for heart attack and stroke.
- Vitamin A deficiency induces xerophtalmia (L) and impairs the biochemistry in cells of the retina (L) causing night blindness.
In malabsorption, the
lesions from the mucosa cells of the intestine may be associated with protein leakage.
- As a result of protein deprivation, Edema from the lower extremities may follow.
Malabsorption of calcium exaggerates the consequences of
- Calcium malabsorption in osteoporosis, bone fragility and spontaneous
Calcium is absorbed throughout the length of the small intestine, but like other nutrients, more avidly in the proximal section, the most damaged part of the intestine in malabsorption. Other factors than calcium may be involved in bone lesions caused by malabsorption, such as a vitamin D deficiency and a shortage of boron possibly caused by the same malabsorption.
Osteomalacia (l) develops in patients with years of
relatively mild malabsorption.
Malabsorption of fats has multiple consequences
- In fat malabsorption, fatty acids remain in the intestine. Calcium, as a
divalent cation, combines with fatty acids to form insoluble soaps (and soapy stool)
- In fat malabsorption a deficiency of fat soluble vitamins (A,E,D) is frequent.