1 What is malnutrition?
2 Forms of malnutrition
Qualitative malnutrition Quantitative malnutrition
3 Symptoms of malnutrition
Mental and cognitive symptoms Physical symptoms
4 Causes of malnutrition
Loss of appetite Disorders in the mouth and throat area Problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients
5 What can be done about malnutrition?
Get an overview of your current nutritional profile Prevent malnutrition with Saturo drinking meals

Malnutrition can have very different effects on your body. If you want to expand your nutritional awareness and learn how to recognize malnutrition, you've come to the right place! We will show you how malnutrition develops, how it manifests itself and how you can prevent malnutrition.

What is malnutrition?

If one or more nutrients are below the generally recognized guideline value, this is called malnutrition. There are seemingly endless nutrients that you should keep an eye on for optimal health. Each of these nutrients is a building block that your body needs to carry out vital enzymatic reactions and mechanisms. The causes, symptoms and treatment options for different nutrient deficiencies are as varied as the roles these nutrients play in your body.

Despite growing nutritional awareness and improved food safety in developing countries, malnutrition is a pervasive public health issue. While caloric deficiencies and famine are now history in most countries, deficiencies of individual nutrients due to unbalanced diets are on the rise in some countries.1

Forms of malnutrition

In principle, there are two forms of malnutrition, and a person can be affected by both at the same time:

Qualitative malnutrition

This is the classic form of malnutrition. Although you may cover your overall calorie requirements, you may develop a certain nutrient deficiency after some time if you eat a one-sided diet. You may then lack certain macro- or micronutrients, such as healthy fatty acids, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals or trace elements, which your body needs for various mechanisms.

Quantitative malnutrition

This is classic malnutrition, in which your body receives less energy (i.e. calories) than it burns in the long term.2

Symptoms of malnutrition

Since the nutrients that we supply to our body fulfill a wide variety of functions in our body, the symptoms of malnutrition are always directly dependent on the nutrient deficiency present. Malnutrition can therefore manifest itself in very different ways.

These are the most common symptoms that can be caused by various nutrient deficiencies.

Mental and cognitive symptoms

  • Fatigue and lethargy3
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Depression4
  • Anxiety
  • Low sex drive
  • Dementia

Physical symptoms

  • Dry hair
  • Dandruff
  • Dry skin
  • Slow wound healing
  • Sunken cheeks
  • Bloated belly
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of muscle and fat tissue
  • Cold sensations
  • infertility
  • Slowed immune response to infections
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cardiovascular disorders5

While some nutrient deficiencies are virtually extinct in our modern society, there are certain micronutrients for which deficiencies develop relatively quickly. These include in particular 6 However, these are relatively easy to recognize through relevant symptoms:

  • Iron deficiency: Impaired cognitive abilities (memory, reaction-concentration ability), limited regulation of own body temperature, stomach problems7
  • Vitamin B12: Fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite.
  • Vitamin A: Night blindness and dry eyes
  • Zinc: Loss of appetite, delayed growth, diarrhea, hair loss, slower wound healing
  • Iodine: Swollen thyroid glands, growth and development deficits8

Of course, you can never clearly diagnose a nutrient deficiency based on the symptoms. But if you notice these symptoms, there is always a need for clarification. You can check your suspicions with a simple blood count from your GP.

Causes of malnutrition

There are many causes and indirect risk factors that can lead to malnutrition. In many cases, several of these factors apply to a person affected by malnutrition. Medications, chronic diseases, parasites and various social risk factors can increase the risk of chronic qualitative or quantitative malnutrition.

These disorders are among the most common causes of malnutrition:

Loss of appetite

Many chronic and mental illnesses, such as chronic depression, HIV or tumors, can cause loss of appetite. Viral diseases that remain untreated and impair the sense of taste and smell can also indirectly lead to malnutrition.9

Disorders of the mouth and throat

If chewing or swallowing hurtsthis can lead to the affected person subconsciously avoiding food. Painful, inflamed wisdom teeth, inflamed tonsils or fungal infections are the most common causes of chronic chewing and swallowing problems.

Problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients

In some cases, a person may suffer from malnutrition despite eating a varied, nutrient-rich diet. In this case, there is likely an underlying problem (e.g. gastrointestinal tract disease, a parasitic infection, or conditions that impair stomach acid production) that inhibits the efficient breakdown, absorption or utilization of that nutrient.


In order for your body to absorb nutrients efficiently, especially in the small intestine, your food must first be broken down into smaller pieces in the stomach. The most important organ for the production of stomach acid is the pancreas. Therefore, a disease of the pancreas, e.g. cancer or inflammation, can lead to maldigestion. Diseases that impair the functions of the gallbladder can also lead to digestive problems.


If a person eats sufficient quality food, has no digestive problems and still has malnutrition, this could indicate malabsorption. Malabsorption occurs when you either don't have enough digestive enzymes, bacteria or other foreign invaders are present in the gastrointestinal tract, or food moves through the small or large intestine faster than usual. In most cases, problems or diseases of the small intestine or lymph nodes are responsible for malabsorption. For example: lactose intolerance, malignant lymphomas, Crohn's disease, coeliac disease, lymphangitis or various parasites.

What can be done about malnutrition?

Malnutrition should always be treated in consultation with a doctor, because in serious cases, inappropriate treatment can be counterproductive. A clear diagnosis is therefore a basic prerequisite for optimal treatment. Most doctors will take a detailed medical history, carry out blood work and other physical examinations to get to the bottom of the cause of your symptoms. Depending on the cause, the doctor may take the following measures:

  • Refer you to an appropriate specialist (e.g. a dentist, psychologist, nutritionist, gastroenterologist, etc.).
  • They will inform you about your malnutrition and give you tips for everyday life that you can use to treat your malnutrition yourself.
  • They will give you an injection to counteract the current nutrient deficiency and give you tips on how to avoid such a deficiency in the future.

Get an overview of your current nutritional profile

Various apps and platforms such as Cronometer allow you to log your meals over several days. From this, you can then see which nutrients you may be consuming too little or even too much of. This allows you to increase your nutritional awareness and find out which foods you can supplement your current diet with particularly well.

Preventing malnutrition with Saturo Drinking meals

To ensure a balanced diet and effectively prevent malnutrition, the drinking meals from Saturo are an excellent choice. They are carefully formulated to provide an optimal blend of essential macro and micronutrients that the body needs for its basic functions. The convenient and nutrient-rich drinkable meals from Saturo not only support healthy eating in a busy lifestyle, but also help to fill nutritional gaps that can arise from unbalanced eating habits.

FAQ - Frequently asked questions about malnutrition

What is malnutrition?

If you eat a diet that does not meet your daily calorie or nutrient requirements for a long period of time, then you are affected by malnutrition. Even people who feel relatively healthy and enjoy a high standard of living in developed countries can be affected by a nutritional deficiency without realizing it.

What is qualitative malnutrition?

As the name suggests, the problem with qualitative malnutrition is the quality of your diet. You may be consuming enough calories, but your eating habits may be too one-sided and you are consuming a lot of "empty calories". In rare cases, however, medication, intestinal diseases or parasites can also cause a qualitative nutrient deficiency.

What is quantitative malnutrition?

You suffer from quantitative malnutrition if you consume fewer calories than your body uses on average over a very long period of time (beyond the period of a fasting week or a detox diet).

What are the consequences of malnutrition?

Both of these forms can be life-threatening above a certain level of severity. Only in very severe cases is the body irreparably damaged. In most cases, however, the prognosis is good and the consequences of a nutrient deficiency can be easily reversed with appropriate treatment. In general, the more pronounced the nutrient deficiency, the more severe the symptoms. The first consequences of an incipient malnutrition could be, for example, tiredness, poor concentration, night blindness or scaly scalp.

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