Much as we take care of our diets and health, certain issues do crop up. Partly this is due to environmental factors like loss of nutrients in food due to longer distances, overcooking etc. and partly it is because we do not add a wide variety of food items to our diets. If we are particularly fussy, there are bound of being deficiencies in the body. One such condition is a deficiency of Vitamin A. Developed countries rarely face the challenges of rampant Vitamin A deficiency; it is only the poorer nations of the world that suffer from it.
When the diet does not contain proper doses of vitamin A it creates a deficiency. It is a condition mostly affecting children. Many kids develop this after a bout of measles. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and is made up of components known as ‘Retinoid’. There are three forms of this vitamin- retinol, beta-carotene, and carotenoids.
Retinol is the most accessible form and can be obtained from animal sources. The pigment responsible for adjusting to low light does not get manufactured in the body in the face of Vitamin A deficiency. This is why people start suffering from night blindness. Vitamin A is vital for vision, bone health, immune response, reproduction, skin, and hair health, and to maintain good health of respiratory, urinary and digestive systems. It helps in proper fetal growth and is essential for genetic expression.
Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
Dry hair, dry, rough skin, brittle nails, night blindness, and low resistance to infections are some of the most common symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, diseases like cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel syndrome and other gastric issues affect its absorption in the body. Alcoholism also leads to low absorption of this vitamin.
The deficiency of this vitamin must not be taken lightly as it can lead to partial or complete blindness if not treated in time. Children who had good levels of this vitamin in their blood either fought off measles completely or recovered in a lesser duration than those who were lacking this vitamin.
Prevention and Treatment
- Children should be regularly given Vitamin A drops.
- Animal products are rich in this vitamin. Eggs, milk, butter, meat and specifically liver have abundant Vitamin A. Eat these regularly for preventing deficiency of vitamin A.
- Vegetarians must eat pigmented vegetables that include the leafy greens, orange and yellow vegetables. Also, having milk takes care of a certain percentage of the daily requirement.
- If you have opted for Vitamin A supplements, take these after consulting your doctor as they can prove to be toxic in wrong doses.
- Cod liver oil capsules prove to be a very effective treatment for Vitamin A. Please consult your doctor before taking them.
- Oral and injectable supplements can be taken to treat Vitamin A deficiency.
- A Low-fat diet is a bad news if you have vitamin A deficiency. Adding oil, ghee, butter or even margarine will prove beneficial.