Minerals and vitamins


  • Potassium is the electrolyte most studied in marasmus. Total body potassium deficit is associated with decreased muscle mass, poor intake, and digestive losses.

Other electrolytes

  • Plasma sodium concentration is generally within the reference range, but it can be low, which is then a sign of poor prognosis.

Other minerals

  • A deficit in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium stores also exists. Iron deficiency anemia is consistently observed in marasmus. However, in the most serious forms, iron accumulates in the liver, most likely because of the deficit in transport protein.


  • Both fat-soluble vitamins (ie. A, D, E, K) and water-soluble vitamins (eg. B-6, B-12, folic acid) must be systematically administered. Vitamin A deficit affects visual function (eg. Conjunctivitis, corneal ulcer, night blindness, total blindness) and digestive, respiratory, and urinary functions. Furthermore, vitamin A supplementation programs have resulted in decreased mortality and morbidity in particular, during diarrheal disease and measles