23 Oct 2020
Vitamin A deficiency: What are its symptoms, causes and treatments?
Vitamin A is responsible for many bodily functions like supporting cell growth, improving immune function, and more.
It is also known for its role in ensuring eye health, where it protects and maintains cornea and conjunctiva, and helps in forming rhodospin (a molecule necessary for color and low-light vision).
Unfortunately, its deficiency is not uncommon.
Here's everything you need to know about it.
Common deficiency signs: Dry eye, eczema, stunted growth, infertility
One of the most common signs of Vitamin A deficiency is dry eyes, the inability to produce tears. Severe deficiency can lead to night blindness and other eye related issues.
Vitamin A is also important for skin repair and maintenance. So the lack of it can cause conditions like eczema.
Its deficiency can also lead to stunted growth in children, and infertility in adults.
Inadequate intake and illnesses are key causes of this deficiency
The main reason behind this condition is the inadequate intake of Vitamin A through diet.
This is especially prevalent in countries like India where rice, devoid of beta-carotene, is the staple food.
Sometimes, this deficiency is caused due to the body's inability to use the Vitamin A in the diet.
This happens due to illnesses like coeliac disease, Crohn's disease, giardiasis, cystic fibrosis, etc.
Sources: Eggs, meat, milk, dairy products, pigmented fruits and vegetables
The first step to fight this deficiency is to increase the levels of this vitamin in your diet.
Animal products like eggs, meat, milk and other dairy products are great sources of Vitamin A.
However, if you are a vegetarian, ensure that you eat good amount of pigmented fruits and vegetables. They include the leafy greens, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
In case of severe deficiency, supplements are prescribed
If your blood test results show a severe deficiency of Vitamin A, your doctor will most probably prescribe supplements.
These supplements are given according to the age-based requirement of this vitamin in a person's body.
Ensuring that the dosage doesn't overly increase Vitamin A levels is important, because excessive amount of this fat-soluble nutrient can cause serious health problems.