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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Diseases Caused by Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient critical for maintaining healthy vision, skin, and immune system. In medical terms, it is also called retinol. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it is crucial for the maintenance of kidneys, heart, lungs, and other vital organs. A deficiency of vitamin a manifests itself in dry and damaged eyes, skin, and other body tissues. It is widely noticed among children and adolescents, particularly in low-income countries.

Symptoms of vitamin a deficiency are easy to notice, but often ignored by most people as seasonal ailments. If not attended at the initial phase, the symptoms can develop into debilitating vision and skin-health disorders.

What Causes Vitamin A Deficiency?

There are primarily two leading causes of vitamin A deficiency. They are:

  1. Inadequate levels of vitamin A in the diet of a person.

  2. Body’s inability to properly synthesize vitamin A from the diet.

Vitamin A deficiency happens when a person’s diet is devoid of any vitamin A fortified food items like milk, eggs, green leafy vegetables, and fruits. Certain health conditions like liver disorders, intestine surgeries, and diarrhea can also decrease the body’s ability to absorb vitamin A from the diet.

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

Woman rubbing her eyes

Caption:: Woman rubbing her eyes, Credit: Pixabay

A mild vitamin A deficiency is difficult because of the lack of symptoms. But some of the warning signs of this vitamin’s deficiency that you should not overlook are

  1. Skin, chest, and throat infections.

  2. Dry and weak eyes

  3. Dry hair, chapped lips, and brittle nails

  4. Stunted growth in children

  5. Infertility issues in women

  6. Ulcers and lesions in the mouth

  7. Dry and itchy skin

Vitamin A Deficiency Diseases

The most common way vitamin A deficiency occurs is by the inability to absorb and process vitamin A from the diet by the body. It can give rise to diseases like

  1. Celiac disease

  2. Liver cirrhosis

  3. Bile duct disorder

  4. Pancreatic insufficiency

  5. Complete vision impairment

  6. Corneal ulceration

  7. Night blindness

  8. Respiratory tract infections

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitamin A Deficiency

vitamin A deficiency picture

Caption: vitamin A deficiency picture, Credit: Pixabay

The doctor diagnoses vitamin A deficiency through blood tests and symptoms exhibited by a person. Eye tests are also conducted to determine if vitamin A deficiency is behind the experienced vision problems.

A vitamin a deficiency treatment plan includes administering high doses of vitamin A orally in the form of a supplement to children and adults. It is done until the vision, and skin problems show signs of improvement.

How Can Vitamin A Deficiency Be Prevented?

Vitamin A rich foods

Caption: Vitamin A rich foods, Credit: Pixabay

Regular consumption of vitamin A-rich food sources like carrots, mangoes, whole milk, eggs, fish, spinach, and potatoes will prevent the occurrence of vitamin a deficiency diseases. You should consume at least 4-5 servings of fruits and green leafy vegetables every day in your diet.

Children and adolescents who are at risk of developing vitamin A deficiency are advised to include vitamin A supplements in their diet. However, the supplementation should be done under strict medical supervision.

Vitamin A deficiency can be easily recognized and prevented in most people. There are lots of food sources of vitamin A that are readily available in all seasons. Ensure that you eat them with a source of fat like oil or cheese to enable its full absorption by the body.

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