Vitamin A deficiency occurs when there is a decreased level of vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient and your body requires it for different functions.
Vitamin A is available in retinol and retinal form in your blood. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in your fat tissues.
The normal range of Vitamin A is 40 to 98mcg/dl, deviation from this range cause symptoms in your body.
It is available in many foods such as vegetables, meat, fruits, and fish. The recommended daily dose of vitamin A for men and women is around 700mcg/dl.
Different sources of Vitamin A
You should take a healthy diet to combat vitamin A deficiency. Different foods are natural sources of Vitamin A.
When you miss those foods in your diet, then you lead to severe vitamin A deficiency.
Following are the vitamin A-rich foods
- Green vegetables
Green vegetables and yellow vegetables have adequate vitamin A to meet your body's requirements. 100 grams of vegetables contain 10, 000 IU units of Vitamin A.
Therefore your diet must include green leafy vegetables.
Vegetables including spinach, carrots, potatoes, peppers, and lettuce are great options to prevent vitamin deficiency.
Your body converts beta carotene into retinol and gets vitamin A.
Beta carotene is the inactive form of vitamin A and it passes through metabolism reactions to increase serum retinol levels. Fruits are the main source of beta carotene.
Fruits including orange fruits, mangoes, apricots, and papaya can give you enough vitamins to fulfil your body's vitamin.
Oily fish, shellfish, fish liver oils and cod liver oil can be included in your diet for vitamin deficiency.
- Dairy products;
Full cream milk is generally a good source of Vitamin A. Besides milk, other dairy products like cheese and fortified milk also contain a great amount of Vitamin A.
Different causes of vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency occurs when you don't take a balanced diet. Dietary intake of Vitamin A is mandatory to satisfy your physiological needs.
Causes of Vitamin A deficiency include
1. Prolonged dietary deprivation
2. Liver disorders and certain pancreatic disorders such as bile duct blockage
3. Intestinal problems which result in decreased absorption of vitamin A such as celiac disease.
4. Excessive alcohol intake
5. Chronic diarrhoea
6. Zinc or iron deficiency
Symptoms of Vitamin A severe deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is a serious problem in developing countries. Below the normal range may cause health problems which are the following.
- Night blindness
In night blindness, you will have trouble seeing in low light.
Your eye consists of a molecule called rhodopsin, which needs vitamin A to become sensitive to light. When you have a low level of vitamin A, the rhodopsin lost its sensitivity which leads to night blindness.
Besides night blindness, persistent vitamin A deficiency may lead you to xerophthalmia, in which complete blindness occurs.
With this condition, your eye may become dry and patches appear which may damage your eye's structure.
- Skin issues
Vitamin A helps in maintaining smooth and healthy skin. You may experience different skin issues in case of Vitamin A deficiency.
These issues include dryness of skin and cracks appearing. Some people experience damaged hair follicles and dry scalp as well.
When you are not getting enough vitamins, may cause Eczema on your skin which causes severe complications. A study has shown improvement in the treatment of Eczema with the use of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is also helpful in the prevention of skin infections. It boosts immunity and improves the defence system.
- Delayed Growth
Vitamin A is very important for the growth and development of the foetus. During pregnancy, if a deficiency of Vitamin A occurs, it causes stunted growth of the child. Vitamins are an essential part of your bone and muscles.
It helps in the growth of epithelial tissue of your muscles. Epithelial tissues also accelerate the healing of wounds.
- Immune system
Vitamin A deficiency can affect your immune system. Decreased immunity can lead to frequent infections in your throat and chest. Therefore Vitamin A is an important factor in keeping your immune system and reproductive symptom-free from diseases.
- Respiratory infections
A study on children has described that children who took 40,000 IU per month had fewer cases of respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin A deficiency leads to dryness of your lips and tongue, and cracks appear at the corner of the mouth. Applying vitamin-containing cream and lotions can relieve dryness.
Vitamin A is a critical determinant in the reproduction of both males and females. It makes the male's sperm alive and helps in reaching them to the female's ova in the female reproductive tract.
In addition to this, vitamin A initiates meiosis in the female and produces ova for fertilisation. After fertilisation, vitamin A makes the environment favourable for the growth of the embryo.
- Frequent infection and delayed wound healing
Wound healing occurs with the help of new Collagen and epithelial tissue formation. These tissues need vitamin A for their growth and development.
When you have delayed wound healing, it may link to vitamin A deficiency. Research has suggested that people who applied vitamin A cream to their wounds had a 50% of reduction in their wound size.
It is valuable for those populations who are prone to wounds. Vitamin A available in both topical and oral forms for wound healing.
- Other symptoms include
a. Urinary tract infection
d. Pale skin
e. Acne on your skin.
f. Slow bone growth
How to prevent vitamin A deficiency?
1. Control and prevention of Vitamin A deficiency are necessary to get a better life. In this regard, your diet plays a crucial role to maintain your essential nutrients within normal range.
You should take a balanced diet that gives you all the vitamins which are needed for your good health.
2. Secondly, you must treat all those diseases, which affect your vitamin A absorption from the gut.
4. Thirdly, you should visit a doctor to prescribe a vitamin A dietary supplement that can meet your body's requirements.
See our Vitamin A at-home blood test here.
To learn more about vitamins and minerals, see our Supplements and Vitamins information page here.
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