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Home > Blog > Vitamin A Deficiency - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Vitamin A Deficiency - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Vitamin A Deficiency - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Max Lab

Nov 04, 2022

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is used in the production of night vision, cellular communication, and regulation of gene expression. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to dry skin, night blindness, dry eyes and mouth, poor immune system, increased susceptibility to infection and lung diseases.

What is vitamin A?

A vital vitamin for maintaining human health is vitamin A. It can be found in many foods, including milk, liver, and fish. Vitamin A is important for the development and function of the immune system and for vision. It also plays a role in bone growth, reproduction, and cell division.

Most people get enough vitamin A from their diet. However, some people may be at risk for deficiency. This includes people who have trouble absorbing nutrients from food (malabsorption), are pregnant or breastfeeding, have certain medical conditions, or take certain medications. A lack of vitamin A can cause vision issues, including night blindness. It can also make it harder for the body to fight infections.

What is Vitamin A Deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency is a condition resulting from insufficient vitamin A in the diet. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and released when needed by the body. It is found in foods such as eggs, butter, milk, and liver. Deficiency can cause problems with vision, skin, and immunity.

The symptoms of vitamin A deficiency can be nonspecific and may include fatigue, dry skin, and dry eyes. More specific symptoms can include night blindness and xerophthalmia (dryness and scaliness of the conjunctiva). Xerophthalmia is the most common cause of preventable blindness in children.

Vitamin A deficiency is diagnosed with blood tests measuring serum retinol levels or plasma carotene levels. Treatment involves taking vitamin A supplements orally or by injection. Prevention of deficiency includes eating a diet rich in foods containing vitamin A or taking a daily multivitamin supplement that contains vitamin A.

What problems might result from a lack of vitamin A?

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Dryness and scaling of the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Infertility
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • vision problems, such as night blindness
  • Thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)

What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin A deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency can cause a wide range of symptoms, including dry and scaly skin, brittle nails, night blindness, and poor wound healing. In more severe cases, vitamin A deficiency can lead to xerophthalmia (dryness and inflammation of the conjunctiva), corneal ulceration, and even blindness. Vitamin A deficiency is usually diagnosed based on clinical signs and symptoms, as well as blood tests that measure levels of vitamin A or its metabolites. Treatment for vitamin A deficiency typically involves taking vitamin A supplements.

Common Symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency

  • dry and scaly skin
  • Dry hair
  • brittle nails
  • night blindness 
  • poor wound healing
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage

What causes vitamin A deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency is when you don't get enough vitamin A. It's rare in India, but it happens frequently in developing countries around the world. People with little food and not much money aren't getting enough of the vitamins they need, which can lead to a vitamin A deficiency on top of any other lack.

Liver disorders also contribute to vitamin A deficiency. Liver cancer or injury directly affect the levels of vitamin A in your body, as your liver stores most of your body’s vitamin A.

Diseases or conditions that impair your body's ability to absorb fat can also cause vitamin A deficiencies. These conditions can reduce your body's ability to absorb vitamins including vitamin A. Conditions such as:

How is vitamin A deficiency diagnosed?

There are several ways that vitamin A deficiency can be diagnosed. The most common method is to measure the level of a substance called retinol in the blood. Retinol is the form of vitamin A that is absorbed from food and used by the body.

Other methods of diagnosis include measuring the levels of other substances in the blood that are related to vitamin A, such as certain fats or proteins. Another way to diagnose vitamin A deficiency is to look at a person's skin or eyes for signs of dryness or inflammation, which can be a sign that there is not enough vitamin A in the body.

How is vitamin A deficiency treated?

Vitamin A deficiency is typically treated by increasing intake of foods rich in vitamin A or by taking supplements. If dietary changes are not sufficient, your doctor may recommend injectable forms of vitamin A.

How can I prevent vitamin A deficiency?

In underdeveloped nations, vitamin A deficiency is a significant public health issue. The best way to prevent vitamin A deficiency is to consume a diet that includes foods rich in vitamin A, such as liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin A supplements can also help prevent deficiency.

Diet or Foods for vitamin A deficiency

Vitamin A is an important nutrient that helps keep our eyes healthy and our immune system strong. Unfortunately, many people don't get enough vitamin A in their diets. This can lead to a deficiency, which can cause a number of problems.

The good news is that there are plenty of foods that are rich in vitamin A. Here are some of the best:

  • Eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of vitamin A. One large egg contains over 1,000IU of vitamin A, which is over half the daily recommended amount.
  • Fish: Fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are also great sources of vitamin A. A 3-ounce serving of salmon contains almost 2,000IU of vitamin A.
  • Dairy products: Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt all contain significant amounts of vitamin A. For example, one cup of milk contains around 500IU of vitamin A.
  • dark leafy greens: Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are another great source of vitamin A. Just one cup of spinach contains over 1,000IU of this nutrient.

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