28.1 C
Lagos
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Vitamin A Deficiency – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

- Advertisement -

Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble organic compounds that include retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. The vitamin is essential for many bodily functions such as a strong immune system, good skin, and, most importantly, proper vision.

- Advertisement -

The two primary types of vitamin A found in foods are retinol and provitamin A. Retinol is commonly found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

At the same time, the body converts carotenoids such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which can be found in plant foods such as green, red, yellow, and orange fruits, into vitamin A.

Vitamin A Deficiency, also known as hypovitaminosis A, is the insufficient amount of vitamin A in tissues and blood. It is prevalent in low-income, developing countries, especially amongst children and women of reproductive age.

One of the most common symptoms of vitamin A deficiency is Nyctalopia (night blindness), which may eventually lead to complete blindness. Other effects of vitamin A deficiency include Xerophthalmia and keratomalacia.

According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency is the leading case of preventable blindness in children. It also increases the risk of diseases and death from severe infections in children and may increase the risk of maternal mortality.

There are nearly half a million malnourished children in developing countries who go blind for lack of vitamin A annually, and some die within a year of becoming blind.

Insufficient amounts of vitamin A impairs the body’s ability to fight infections. There are higher fatality rates of infectious diseases such as measles and chickenpox in countries where children are not vaccinated.

Vitamin A deficiency may also increase children’s risk of developing diarrhea and respiratory infections, arrested bone development, decrease growth rate, and decrease the likelihood of survival from severe diseases.

The highest prevalence of vitamin A deficiency occurs in Africa and Southeast Asia.

- Advertisement -

Causes

Vitamin A deficiency is primarily caused by insufficient amounts of the vitamin in diets. Other causes of vitamin A deficiency include:

 

  • Iron deficiency  which affects the uptake of vitamin A
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Small-bowel bypass surgery
  • Disorders of fat malabsorption such as pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and biliary obstruction.
  • Liver disorders
  • Suppressed synthesis of retinol-binding protein due to protein energy malnutrition
  • Excess intake of alcohol which depletes vitamin A levels and stresses the liver.

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency

Night Blindness

This is the inability of the eyes to adjust to dim light. People afflicted with night blindness or Nyctalopia cannot distinguish images at low light levels.

They have poor vision in the dark and can only see when there is adequate light.

This occurs when the production of rhodopsin, the eye pigment responsible for sensing low-light situations, is depleted. Vitamin A is needed for the production of this pigment; insufficient amounts of the vitamin would lead to reduced production of rhodopsin.

Increased rate of infection

People who are deficient in vitamin A are more susceptible to infections. This because T-killer cells necessary for fighting off infections require retinol from vitamin A to multiply.

The absence of vitamin A leads to a reduced number of T-cells and lymphocytes, leading to a weak immune system that is open to infections.

Impaired healing of wounds

Vitamin A promotes the production of collagen, an essential component for healthy skin. Wounds that do not heal properly after injury may be caused by insufficient amounts of Vitamin A.

Studies have shown that oral vitamin A improved the collagen production in rats. This occurred even though the rats were on steroids which are capable of inhibiting wound healing

Furthermore, these studies in humans show similar results. Older men who treated wounds with topical vitamin A had a 50% reduction in the size of their injuries. This is in comparison with men who did not use the cream.

- Advertisement -

Delayed growth

Vitamin is responsible for the proper functioning and development of the body. Children with inadequate amounts of vitamin A may experience stunted growth. Studies conducted in children in developing countries have shown that vitamin A supplements can improve growth.

However, vitamin A supplements should be taken in combination with other nutrients to have a more significant impact on growth.

Dry eyes

Lack of vitamin A can lead lead to dry corneas and even complete blindness in severe cases. This is characterized by marks known as Bitot’s spots.

Not being able to produce tears is one of the earliest symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Infants and children in Southeast Asia, Africa, and India are at the most risk of developing dry eyes.

However, vitamin A supplement can help to improve this condition.

Dry skin

Since vitamin A is necessary for the production of collagen and the repair of skin cells, a lack of it may consequently lead to skin problems such as eczema and acne.

Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to be dry, itchy, and inflamed. Studies have shown that vitamin A is effective in treating eczema. Although skin problems may be attributed to many other causes, chronic deficiency of vitamin A may be one of them.

Diagnosis of Vitamin A Deficiency

The diagnosis is made based on the clinical symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Methods of assessing vitamin A levels in the body include the measurement of plasma retinol levels, plasma and urinary retinoic levels, and levels of vitamin A in breastmilk.

Treatment

Treatment of vitamin A deficiency can be done using oral and injectable forms of the vitamin. Oral supplements are effective in reducing the risk of morbidity, especially from severe diarrhea.

Also, fortifying food with oily and dry forms of vitamin A is useful in improving vitamin A deficiency. Retinyl acetates, retinol esters, and retinyl palmitate can be used for the fortification of food.

- Advertisement -

Food sources rich vitamin A that can be used to treat the deficiency include:

 

  • Cod liver oil
  • Eggs
  • Fortified skim milk
  • Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Livers

Among all these, livers are the richest animal sources of vitamin A. 100 grams of beef liver provides around 32,000 IUs of vitamin A.

vitamin a deficiency
  • Save
- Advertisement -

Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Victor Anunobi
Victor Anunobi is an environmentalist, writer and movie enthusiast living in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. He enjoys long walks, food and alternative music.
- Advertisement -

Trending Now

7 Types of Depression You Didn’t Know Existed

Depression is no longer a strange disease to most people anymore as we have heard of so many deaths and sicknesses that have been...
- Advertisement -

Skin Rashes: Causes, Symptoms and Effective Home Remedies

Skin rashes are common skin problems experienced by millions of people worldwide; it is characterized by a visible change in the color...

Atis Fruit: 10 Health Benefits of Eating Sugar Apple

Sugar apple (Atis fruit), is the Annona squamosa fruit belonging to the natives of West Indies and to the tropical Americas like Peru, Mexico,...

Spider Bites: Symptoms, Treatment & Identification

Spider bites in the United States are often annoying but they are rarely fatal. If a person gets bitten by a black...

How to Increase Sodium Levels in Your Blood?

Levels of sodium in the blood is often a misunderstood topic and it is extremely necessary that we as individuals understand the meaning and...

What Causes Pain Between Shoulder Blades?

Shoulder blade is in the upper side of your back, the scapulae, which become prominent if you pull your elbows close to your trunk...

Oral Surgery Recovery – What Foods to Eat

Had oral surgery? Then it’s very hard to have foods while in recovery. An oral surgery makes you feel weak and nauseous. So it’s...

7 Types of Disability and Examples

For disabled people life is a lot different than the rest of us. They don’t lead normal lives like we do and need assistance...

How to Deal With a Jealous Sister-in-law?

Getting along with sisters-in-law or potential sisters-in-law could be very frustrating whether or not they had a very tight bond with their...

MRI Scan – Definition, Uses, and Procedure

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a popular procedure all over the world. MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to form...

Are There Any Side Effects Of CBD Gummies?

CBD is a popular option for millions of users all over the world who want to take a more “natural” approach to manage their...

Friends

Newsletter

Nurture yourself with health tips, wellness advice, and more.

- Advertisement -

Related Posts

What Is Alopecia Barbae? What Causes It and How to Cure It?

You hit puberty and start growing beards faster than your peers and start losing them, shockingly a few years after. The state where your body...

3 Dangerous Mosquito-borne Diseases and How to Protect Yourself From Them?

Mosquitos are one of the most dangerous pests in the world. This is because they're capable of spreading a variety of deadly diseases through...

Why Drinking Red Wine Is Healthy?

Some say that drinking wine is bad for your health. This is due to the fact that wines are considered to be alcoholic beverages...

Why Do I Keep Getting Mouth Ulcers and How Can I Prevent Them?

Mouth ulcers are painful round or oval sores that appear in the mouth, on the inner cheeks, lips, or on the tongue. Although the...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

vitamin a deficiency
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap