The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article is about nutritional starvation. For the computer science term, see resource starvation.

In living organisms, starvation is a severe reduction in vitamin, nutrient, and energy intake, and is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation (in excess of 1-2 months) causes permanent organ damage, and may eventually result in death.



Starved individuals lose substantial fat and muscle mass as the body turns to these tissues for energy. The skin's pale and dry appearance attenuates this emaciation.

Vitamin deficiency is common, often resulting in beriberi, pellagra, and scurvy. These diseases collectively may cause diarrhea, skin rashes, edema, and heart failure. Riboflavin deficiency causes anemia. Individuals are often irritable, fatigued, and lethargic as a result.


Starvation is usually treated by slowly increasing food intake until no nutrient deficiencies remain. By this time, the diet of a recovering individual should consist of 5,000 calories and twice the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of nutrients.

See also

External link

  • Starvation - Merck Manual

Last updated: 02-06-2005 15:23:47
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55