What happens when you do not eat enough fruits & vegetables?

Updated April 17, 2017

Vegetables and fruits are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals essential to the healthy development of our bodies. A lack of the nutritional benefits that vegetables and fruits provide can lead to serious diseases and conditions in every part of the body.


The main types of vegetables include bulb (garlic, chives, onions), fruit (peppers, cucumber, tomato, avocado), leaf (spinach, lettuce, collard greens), inflorescent (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts), root (carrot, radish, beet), stalk (celery, chard, bamboo, asparagus) and tuber (sweet potato, potato, yam, jicama).

While all vegetables have significant amounts of Vitamins A and K, folate, maganese, fibre and potassium, some have additional antioxidant nutrients and vitamins. Fruit vegetables are packed with Vitamin A as well C, green leafy vegetables contain Vitamin E and the inflorescent ones have plant chemicals with significant anti-cancer effects.


The majority of fruits have high levels of Vitamins A, B and C and fibre, in addition to other minerals and vitamin. Vitamin A-packed fruits include cantaloupes, watermelon, peaches and kiwi. Oranges, blackberries and bananas are filled with Vitamin B, while the strawberry, orange, blackberry, cantaloupe, watermelon, lime, peach, banana, apple, lemon and grapes have significant amounts of Vitamin C.


Vitamin & Minerals

The minerals manganese and zinc are antioxidant enzymes. Recommended in fighting colds, zinc promotes a healthy immune system and is needed to maintain your sense of taste and smell, heal wounds and synthesise DNA. Manganese is essential for healthy bone, reproductive, immune and nervous system development.

Vitamins E, C and A (beta carotene) are considered antioxidants, which are substances that counteract cell damage. These antioxidants can prevent and repair cell damage that results from free radicals. Vitamin E prevents cell damage, protects skin from ultraviolet light and also reduces the risk of prostate cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin A helps with cell reproduction and the promotion of a healthy immune system and certain hormones. Vitamin A also promotes health vision, bone and tooth development and helps maintains healthy skin and hair. Vitamin C is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues and aids in collagen production.

Vitamin B plays a role in the normal functioning of our brain and nervous system. It is vital in our ability to deal with our emotional, physical and spiritual stress. Vitamin K is essential in coagulating blood and maintaining proper bone density. In addition, folate plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy central nervous and gastrointestinal system.


Deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals may lead to specific conditions and diseases, but a long-term lack of all of these is likely to result in severe immune, skeletal, muscular and central nervous system problems. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth and a deficiency of it can prevent wounds from healing, weakness, swollen gums and nosebleeds.

Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and retinol are different versions of Vitamin A; a deficiency can cause eye conditions such as inflammation, dry eye and night blindness and make you more susceptible to infections. A lack of Vitamin D is associated with low bone mass and osteoporosis.

A Vitamin E deficiency causes digestive, liver or gallbladder problems and tingling or loss of sensation in arms, hands, legs or feet. Deficiencies of Vitamin K are associated with unusual bleeding (gastrointestinal, nose, menstrual), anaemia, bruising easily, fractures, liver cancer and hemorrhaging.

Folate deficiency is common and can result in diarrhoea, depression, confusion, and could cause anaemia.

While magenese deficiency is uncommon, it can cause nausea, vomiting, skin rash, loss of hair pigment, bone loss and poor glucose tolerance. A lack of zinc can cause weight loss, frequent infections, lack of sexual development and skeletal maturation.


According to, The vitamins and minerals of vegetables and fruits protect us from cancer, heart, immune and other conditions and disease. Because many Americans don't get the recommended daily serving of vegetables and fruits, they supplement their diets with vitamins. In 2008, Americans spent £5.5 billion on vitamins.

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About the Author

Jane Wada's articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Daily South Town and the Northern Colorado Business Report. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern University.