Nutritional deficiency

Interview with Dr Ilham AZGHARI

By Jasmin, creator and author

Disclaimer: Dr Ilham Azghari is in no way sponsored nor sponsoring any products, has no financial interest, nor does she promotes any specific diet. Dr. Ilham Azghari shares her professional honest scientific opinion based on her studies, experience and ethics as a medical professional.

I am Dr Ilham Azghari, specialist in hepato-gastroenterology and medical nutrition, I practice my profession in my specialized clinic in Rabat (Hay Riad), I was trained at the Faculties of Medicine of Rabat and Amiens with an additional diploma in medical nutrition given my passion and interest in the subject and the close link with gastroenterology.

Dr Ilham Azghari,Hépato-gastroentérologue, Cabinet de gastroentérologie, nutrition médicale et proctologie Angle Av Annakhil et rue Arrayhane, rés. Les Palmiers2, N 4, Hay Riad, Rabat. Tel: 0537564064 Email: 

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What is a nutritional deficiency? What are the causes and symptoms? Whom do they concern? And how to treat a deficiency?

Dr Ilham Azghari: A nutritional deficiency is defined by the inadequate quantity in the body of an essential element necessary for the functioning of the organism. They can concern all ages, from infants to seniors, including children, adolescents and adults. In case of dietary deficiency, you should consult your general practitioner who, depending on the symptoms, will direct you to the concerned specialty. The symptoms of deficiencies are vague and varied, only blood samples prescribed by the doctor can make the diagnosis of deficiency.

A nutritional deficiency can have several causes. A diet insufficiently rich in a certain element is one of the causes and in this case, we’re dealing with a dietary deficiency. A nutritional deficiency can also occur with a balanced diet as in the case of lack of absorption of certain elements by our intestines.

The consequences are subject to the role that that element plays in our body and therefore can largely vary. The treatment depends on the cause; supplementation if it is a dietary intake deficiency, or treatment of the disease causing the malabsorption in other cases.   

Dr Ilham what are the most common deficiencies and their causes that you encounter?

Dr. Ilham Azghari: In my medical practice, the deficiencies most often encountered are iron, vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiencies, and these are often intake deficiencies, but also digestive pathologies with malabsorption.

Which deficiencies mainly affect women, at what age and why? And which ones affect men the most and why ?

Dr Ilham Azghari: Iron deficiency is by far the deficiency that affects women of childbearing age the most. This is due to the loss of iron in the blood during menstruation on a regular basis, which leads to deficiency if the nutritional intake does not cover it sufficiently. Other types of deficiencies can be found in both sexes without great disproportion, and it is not widely described that a particular deficiency concerns men exclusively. 

Are women the most affected by deficiencies? Is it due to fluctuations in hormone levels (menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause) ?

Dr. Ilham Azghari: I would say yes, many physiological conditions predispose women to nutritional deficiencies, menstruation on one hand, pregnancy and lactation on the other. These are situations that involve significant energy losses or expenditure that can easily lead to deficiencies if the food intake is not sufficient and balanced.

During my research, I read that women are the most prone to restrictive diets and thus the most affected by nutrient deficiencies. Your opinion on it.

Dr. Ilham Azghari: Indeed in today’s world, diets that target massive weight loss are in great demand, and it is true that women often use them, but not exclusively. When they are carried out without medical supervision, deficiencies may follow.

What about vegans? Are they at risks of nutrient deficiencies different from vegetarians and omnivores?

Dr Ilham Azghari: The vegan diet exposes you to the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, a vitamin almost exclusively present in foods of animal origin. In this case, it is necessary to look for this deficiency in order to possibly remedy it.

[vitamin B12 is not exclusively presents in animal products, red about it here]

One last question Dr Ilham: what do you think about the random use of supplements ? What are the risks associated with this habit?

Dr. Ilham Azghari: Medical advice is recommended before starting supplementation to define the basic condition and the objectives to be achieved, and above all to eliminate the pathological causes underlying any deficiencies. The main risk is to miss a chronic disease by masking the deficiencies. Medical advice is recommended before starting supplementation to define the basic state and the objectives to be achieved, and above all to eliminate the pathological causes to possible deficiencies.

Dr Ilham as usual it was an instructive exchange. Thank you for your time. To our next interview.

Dr. Ilham Azghari: Thank you for having me. To our next interview.   

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