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