Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A rich foods are essential for many important body functions. There are two types of vitamin A depending on the source from which they are derived. Vitamin A from animal sources is available in the ready form of retinol. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and excess intake of it can lead to toxicity. 

Rich sources of vitamin A are eggs, dairy, fish oils, and liver.

Vitamin A derived from plant-based sources is called provitamin A of which carotenoids are the most popular and a readily available form. 

Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli, leafy greens like kale, mustard greens and spinach are some of the rich sources of vitamin A. Fruits rich in vitamin A are cantaloupe, mango, papaya, pink grapefruit, and apricots.

A deficiency of vitamin A in the diet can cause vision difficulties and also make the body susceptible to infections, whereas high doses of vitamin A can lead to toxicity. Vitamin A supplement use is not recommended to take in a tablet form and it is best to derive this nutrient from natural food sources. It is therefore important to consume food sources containing sufficient vitamin A on a daily basis.

Causes of Vitamin A Deficiency:

  •  Minimal consumption of animal liver, seafood, eggs, yellow & green vegetables, and fruits, milk products.
  •  Diseases like cystic fibrosis, bile duct obstruction, cirrhosis, duodenal bypass, celiac disease, giardiasis, persistent diarrhea, and pancreatic insufficiency which reduce the absorption, storage, and availability of vitamin A and thus cause a deficiency.

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency:

  •         Earliest symptom of night blindness caused by Retinal damage.
  •         Dryness of conjunctiva and cornea of the eyes (xeropthalmia).
  •         Foamy deposits (Bitot spots) in the sclera of the eye.
  •         Blindness can occur in untreated cases.
  •         Weak immunity and therefore, recurrent infections, especially seen in children and infants.
  •         Dryness and scaly skin.

Treatment Using Vitamin A Palmitate:

  •         In chronic cases of vitamin A deficiency usually doctors give oral supplements.
  •         Usually vit A drops are given to prevent blindness and its complications in health centers.
  •         An overdose of vitamin A can cause toxicity and thus vitamin A must not be consumed without medical prescription.

 Prevention of Vitamin A Deficiency:

  •  Including dark leafy vegetables along with bright and yellow colored fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, papaya, oranges, and carrots in the daily diet will be helpful.
  • Animal liver, seafood, cod liver oil, eggs, and Vitamin A fortified milk products are rich sources of Vitamin A.

-Dr.Bhavani Sagar Surampally



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