What is vitamin A?
Vitamin A (retinal, retinoic acid, retinol and provitamin A carotenoids) is a fat-soluble vitamin (can be dissolved by fat) that is important for the body.
What does vitamin A do in the human body?
It is vital for healthy vision, cell production, growth, immune system, reproduction, healthy skin, and also acts as an antioxidant (inhibits oxidation and prevent the production of free radicals).
What Is Vitamin A Deficiency?
Deficiency of vitamin A is the lack (low or none) of vitamin A in blood and tissue.
- Night blindness: Lack of vitamin A causes poor vision in dim light or dark area, due to the effect of vitamin A on the eye retinal.
- Dry skin: Vitamin A is good for skin cells production, and also protects the skin from radiation due to its activity as an antioxidant, which helps in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin A also slows down the aging of the skin and keeps the skin moist. Lack of vitamin A can cause the development of skin diseases like eczema and rashes.
- Infections: Due to the influence of vitamin A on the immune system, people with vitamin A deficiency are likely to develop infections. In children with vitamin A lack apart from skin infections, respiratory infections are common also.
- Dry eyes: One of the most cause is lack of vitamin A in the eyes. When you hear retinal, the first thing to come to mind is the eyes. Vitamin A deficiency can produce various eye problems like inability to produce tears, itchy eyes, total blindness, and so many eye defects.
- Stunted growth: A child with vitamin A deficiency is likely to have poor growth, because vitamin a helps with the regulation of bone growth, and also helps with the reduction of infections that may affect growth. Lack of vitamin A can also cause the defect to growth to a fetus, including other congenital diseases(diseases manifested at birth).
- Infertility (problem with reproduction): Vitamin is a good inducer of cervical fluid in women, and also assist in follicle maturity.
- Defect in wound healing (poor): There some vitamins which play some important role in wound healing. Vitamin A being along with vitamin C and B. Vitamin A role is to prevent infections from the wound, so lack of vitamin A can cause some infections which will result in poor wound healing.
Note: You may experience some or all of the symptoms, but proper diagnosis is advisable before taking any action. In medicine, we don’t assume; we diagnose before treatment. Yes, it may look like it, but some other processes may cause similar symptoms. Learn to consult your doctor.
Causes of vitamin A deficiency:
- Low vitamin A intake from food, vegetables, and fruits: One of the main sources of vitamins are fruits, vegetables, and vitamins from animal fats. It’s recommended worldwide fruits and vegetables should be part of our daily intake due to their many health benefits and the fact that they are rich in vitamins. We should not underestimate the health benefits gotten from fruits and vegetables, not taking adequate vitamins can lead to serious health problems.
- Bowel inflammation: Bowel inflammation means inflammation of the digestive tract (this includes the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and other organs responsible for digestion), which may result in poor digestion of food and nutrients. That means vitamin A may not be able to be digested by the digestive system leading to vitamin A deficiency.
- Fat malabsorption: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin(can only be dissolved and transported by fat). So when there is low or slow absorption of fat through the digestive system to the blood, there will be little or no amount of vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins(vitamin D, K, and E) in the blood and body tissue.
- Pancreatic insufficiency: Digesting in the intestine is carried out by the pancreas. When there is pancreatic insufficiency, the pancreas is unable to produce enzymes for digestion, and if the foods rich in vitamin A cannot digest, it will lead to vitamin A insufficiency in the body.
- Anemia(iron deficiency): The blood is the largest transport system in the blood, and all nutrients and transported by or through the blood, and iron plays a great row to help in the blood transport activity. Lack of iron in the blood disrupts the transportation of nutrients and vitamins through the blood, which leads to vitamins deficiency in the body tissue.
- Alcoholism: The body has the ability to produce the normal amount of alcohol needed for its metabolism, adding to it may cause a lot of metabolism disorders and organ diseases(kidneys, liver, etc.). Alcohol can destroy the absorption, storage, and the effects of vitamins affecting their metabolism leading to vitamin insufficiency.
- Liver diseases: Liver is like storage and metabolic room of the body, it is responsible for the storage, distribution and the metabolism of vitamin A. A disease of the liver affects the activity of vitamin A(effects, movement, etc.), other vitamins the body needs to function.
- Bowel bypass surgery: This is a surgery done to remove part of the digestive tract may be due to infection, cancer, or other factors. As established earlier, most nutrients and vitamins are absorbed in the bowels. So this surgery, though for a good purpose, may have a deficiency of some vitamins(including vitamin A) and some nutrients in the body.
Treatments and prevention:
- Taking food, vegetables, and fruits rich in vitamin A: As established earlier, one of the best ways of getting vitamin is from the stuff we eat. We should make sure our daily meals have all the nutrients that are beneficial for our health. Fruits and water very important.
- Oral vitamin A supplements: There is some oral vitamins supplement that helps in increasing the body’s vitamins.
Consult your doctor for early diagnosis and treatment is yours have any symptoms of low vitamin A.
Bonus (foods, vegetables, and fruits rich in vitamin A):
- Beef liver
- Sweet potato
- Cod liver oil
- Lamb’s liver
- Liver sausage
- Cooked winter squash
Thanks, I hope you found this article helpful.
Always take good care of your health.