Alternative Names: Impaired Intestinal Absorption
This condition is a state of impaired absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Specific causes – of which there are many – lead to different patterns in malabsorption, involving for example fat and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), vitamin B12, folic acid, iron, protein or carbohydrates.
The main purpose of the Gastrointestinal tract is the digestion and absorption of major nutrients (fat, carbohydrate, and protein), essential micronutrients (vitamins and trace minerals), water, and electrolytes. Digestion involves both mechanical and enzymatic breakdown of food. Mechanical processes include chewing, gastric churning, and the to-and-fro mixing in the small intestine. The final products of digestion are absorbed through the intestinal epithelial cells. A defect in any one of these processes may produce a state of malabsorption.
The many possible causes of malabsorption include:
Diarrhea is often present clinically, although this may not be the immediate cause for seeing a physician.
If suspected, a stool exam and other tests may be ordered by a doctor. The following findings suggest that intestinal malabsorption is occurring:
Increased number and size of fat globules in stool
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