by Shara Aaron, MS, RD
Malabsorption is when the body is not able to get the nutrients it needs from food. Although food is digested, the body has trouble absorbing certain vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, or fats. The condition
Malabsorption is associated with a number of diseases that affect the intestines or other areas of the gastrointestinal tract such as:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your chance of having malabsorption include:
Malabsorption may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
The specific underlying condition must be treated in order to reverse the malabsorption.
Depending on the cause and severity of the malabsorption, you may need to make up for nutritional deficiencies by consuming additional nutrients through foods or supplements. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals along with increased quantities of fat, protein, or carbohydrate may be required. Nutrient supplementation may include folate, iron, and vitamin B12. In some cases, nutrients may be given intravenously.
Conditions that cause malabsorption need to be managed. Work with your doctor and follow the recommended treatment plan to decrease malabsorption complications.
American College of Gastroenterology
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Abdullah M, Firmansyah MA. Clinical approach and management of chronic diarrhea. Acta Med Indones. 2013;45(2):157-165.
Bacterial overgrowth syndrome. Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals website. Available at: http://www.merckma.... Updated November 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Chronic diarrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 20, 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Diarrheal diseases-acute and chronic. American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: http://patients.gi.org/topics/diarrhea-acute-and-chronic/. Updated December 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Function studies: Malabsorption tests. Medical University of South Carolina website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 18, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Overview of malabsorption. Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals website. Available at: http://www.merckma.... Updated November 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013