HomeHealth articlesvitamin aVitamin A Deficiency - Causes | Benefits | Treatment | and Prevention

Vitamin A Deficiency - Causes, Benefits, Treatment and Prevention

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Vitamin A Deficiency - Causes, Benefits, Treatment and Prevention

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Vitamin A is helpful for the efficient functioning of the eyes. In deficient cases, lots of problems might occur. Read this article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Medically reviewed by

Dr. C. Elanchezhian

Published At October 6, 2021
Reviewed AtDecember 8, 2022

What Is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a component that is required for the growth and development of the body. It plays a vital role in immune functions. It is also required for reproduction and proper functioning of kidneys, heart, and lungs. Not only vitamin A but all the types of vitamins are also required for performing some of the other activities in the body. An inadequate level of any vitamin will lead to deficiency and additional health issues. To understand the importance of vitamin A better, we need to know all the benefits of vitamin A.

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin A?

Vitamin A serves as a major component in curing certain severe health conditions. They are:

  • Delayed Growth In Children - Kids deficient in vitamin A show stunted growth and could be easily reversed by proper supplementation.

  • Infection - Infections in the chest, throat, and abdomen can be cured with the help of vitamin A.

  • Night Blindness - It is a condition in which the individual has difficulties in seeing during the nighttime. We can overcome the problems associated with vision by vitamin A supplementation. A condition called Bitot's spots can occur in vitamin A deficiency. It leads to a situation where the individual will have difficulties in producing tears. The dryness of the eyes can also be solved.

  • Fertility Issues - People who lack vitamin A have difficulties in conceiving. This is due to the increased level of oxidative stress. Vitamin A is an essential antioxidant. It is also known to prevent the rate of miscarriages.

  • Dry Skin - The repair of cells is promoted by vitamin A. It also helps in finding the inflammatory conditions associated with skin disorders. Eczema is one such condition that can be completely cured with vitamin A medications like Alitretinoin. Follicular hyperkeratosis and bumpy skin can be treated.

  • Poor Healing of Wounds - Vitamin A is a nutrient that helps heal wounds after surgery or injury.

What Are the Causes of Vitamin A Deficiency?

The causes of vitamin A deficiency are:

  • Eating a diet that is poor in vitamin A.

  • Impaired absorption and storage of vitamin A.

  • Fat malabsorption.

  • Liver problems.

  • Pancreatic disorders.

  • Crohn's disease.

  • Celiac disease.

  • Cystic fibrosis.

  • Obstruction of the bile ducts.

What Are the Rich Sources of Vitamin A?

The following foods are rich in vitamin A:

Sources of Vitamin A

  • Carrot.

  • Sweet potato.

  • Spinach.

  • Lettuce.

  • Bell peppers.

  • Broccoli.

  • Pink grapefruit.

  • Cantaloupe.

  • Squash.

  • Tuna.

  • Beef liver.

  • Cod liver.

  • Salman fish.

  • Butter.

  • Boiled egg.

  • Papaya.

  • Watermelon.

  • Mango.

All these foods are rich in carotenoids. Depending on the availability of these foods, one can choose them. There are no special requirements to consume them. You can eat these foods according to your preference to enhance your vitamin A levels. There are no specific times also; you can eat it either before or after food. Increasing your level of fruit intake will move you towards a healthy life. You should also be aware that consuming too much vitamin A will result in a condition called hypervitaminosis. Therefore, it is necessary to consume all the vitamins at an ideal level rather than excessive supplementation.

The daily requirement of vitamin A will vary depending on an individual's age, gender, and physical condition.

  • For infants less than three years of age, the daily requirement is 300 mcg.

  • For kids over eight years of age, the daily requirement is 400 mcg.

  • For children aged nine to thirteen years, the requirement is 600 mcg per day.

  • Above the age of 15 years, the requirement varies for males and females. For males, it is 900 mcg daily, and for females, it is 700 mcg daily. Men require a higher intake of vitamin A than women.

  • For a pregnant woman, the daily requirement is 770 mcg every day, and it increases up to 1300 mcg during breastfeeding.

Who Is at Risk of Vitamin A Deficiency?

Certain categories of people are at higher risk of developing vitamin A deficiency.

  • Infants and children in underdeveloped countries.

  • Preterm infants.

  • People with cystic fibrosis.

  • Pregnant and lactating women.

What Is Hypervitaminosis?

Hypervitaminosis is a condition that happens due to abnormally higher levels of the vitamin. If vitamin A is consumed at higher levels, it will result in toxicity. The various changes in the body due to vitamin toxicity are:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and headache.

  • Bleeding of the gums and several other gum diseases.

  • Excessive tiredness.

  • Nails become brittle.

  • Weight gain despite poor appetite.

  • Severe hair loss and changes in the texture of the hair. The hair becomes too oily.

  • Bones become weak, and pain in the bones will be present. In some patients, it might be accompanied by swelling.

  • Change in vision is the prime factor that could be noticed in problems associated with vitamin A. The vision becomes blurred, and younger children experience double vision.

  • The skin might turn yellowish. This might be seen along with itching sensation and hypersensitivity to sunlight. In some patients, cracking of the skin is also seen.

  • In children, bulging of the fontanelle is seen. It might also be seen with the softening of the bones in the skull.

  • Severe liver problems might also occur.

What Are the Special Tips for Pregnant Women?

Pregnant women must be very careful about the consumption of vitamin A. If they consume too much vitamin A, it might end up in severe fetal problems. This is due to the fact that the retinol component of vitamin A is associated with fetal development. Retinol is also available as creams for the purpose of anti-aging. Some women might psychologically feel that they appear too old due to pregnancy. This might make them use these anti-aging creams. It is a definite contraindication for pregnant women as it is toxic in nature. Only if the doctor informs you regarding the poor vitamin A levels, then you can find ways to supplement them with the help of foods or vitamin A medications.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What Happens When Vitamin A Is Deficient?

Vitamin A is one crucial vitamin that is required for many bodily functions. If it is deficient, then it can result in the following conditions:
- Dry eyes.
- Dryness of skin.
- Night blindness.
- Infertility or trouble conceiving.
- Stunted growth.


How Do You Fix Vitamin A Deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency can be prevented by eating dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, oranges, and yellow vegetables like pumpkin, squash, etc. Some of the other food sources to fix vitamin A deficiency include milk and cereals fortified with vitamin A, liver, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, and fish liver oils. If in case the deficiency cannot be corrected naturally, then doctors prescribe a few vitamin A supplements.


Where Is Vitamin A Deficiency Most Common?

Vitamin A deficiency is one of the public health problems in most countries, particularly Africa and Southeast Asia. Vitamin A deficiency is common in people with liver and gastrointestinal disorders. Conditions that can interfere with the absorption of vitamin A are celiac disease, liver cirrhosis, pancreatic insufficiency, bile duct disorder, and giardiasis.


How Is Vitamin A Deficiency Diagnosed?

Vitamin A deficiency is usually diagnosed clinically, beginning with an eye examination and reviewing medical history. If in case there are suspects, then the doctor may recommend a blood test to determine vitamin A in the blood.


Can You Take Vitamin A Every Day?

Vitamin A is generally considered safe when taken in recommended doses. The recommended amount of vitamin A per day for adult men is 900 micrograms (mcg) and 700 mcg for women. Vitamin A is available in two forms:
- Preformed form.
- Provitamin form.
Vitamin A is generally safe when taken less than 10,000 (3,000 mcg) units. This maximum daily dose of 3000 mcg relates only to preformed vitamin A.


Does Vitamin A Help in Achieving Better Skin?

Vitamin A is beneficial in achieving better skin. It is known to protect the skin from sun damage by interrupting the process that breaks down the collagen. It also speeds up healing and prevents acne breakouts. It is a natural moisturizer that helps to hydrate the skin effectively.


Is Vitamin A Harmful?

Vitamin A becomes harmful when taken in large doses. It is very important not to exceed the maximum limit of 3000 mcg. Vitamin A should be taken only in recommended amounts. Getting too much can result in vitamin A toxicity causing side effects like nausea, vomiting, liver damage, and confusion.


What All Diseases Are Caused Due to Lack of Vitamin A?

Vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness by making the cornea dry, resulting in damage to the cornea and retina. It can also impair immunity and hematopoiesis.


What Are the Different Signs Relating to the Stages of Vitamin A Deficiency?

There are different eye signs of vitamin A deficiency graded by the World Health Organization (WHO), which includes:
- Night blindness (XN).
- Conjunctival Xerosis (X1A).
- Bitot’s spots (X1B).
- Corneal xerosis (X2).
- Corneal ulcers covering less than one-third of the cornea (X3A).
- Keratomalacia (X3B).
- Corneal scarring (XS).


How Does Vitamin A Deficiency Affect Vision?

Vitamin A is a vital vitamin for maintaining eye health. It also helps maintain a clear cornea, the eye's outer covering. Vitamin A deficiency can cause your eyes to dry out, and eventually, the cornea softens, resulting in irreversible blindness. Vitamin A is also known to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.


Why Does Vitamin A Deficiency Occur?

Vitamin A deficiency can occur due to inadequate intake of the vitamin, fat malabsorption, liver disorders. It can result from disorders that can interfere with the absorption, storage, and transport of vitamin A.
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Dr. Lochana .k
Dr. Lochana .k



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