What causes vitamin A deficiency ?

Vitamin A deficiency arises when you don’t get enough vitamin A. Not getting enough vitamin A could be the reason for eczema, skin problems and other vitamin A deficiencies. Vitamin A is responsible for the creation and repair of skin cells. It also helps combat inflammation caused by skin issues. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble compound that is very important for many reasons, such as good vision, better immune health, reproduction, and good skin health. There are two forms of vitamin A; the preformed vitamin A and provitamin A. Preformed vitamin A occurs naturally in meat, eggs, fish, and dairy products. Provitamin A comes about from converting carotenoids in plant foods, such as red, green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, into vitamin A. 

Symptoms and effects of vitamin A deficiency

Statistics show that vitamin A deficiency is very rare in developed countries but can be common in developing ones. Those at high risk of being deficient are pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children. 

Dry skin

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Vitamin A is responsible for the creation and repair of skin cells. It also helps combat inflammation caused by skin issues. Not getting enough vitamin A could be the reason for eczema and some other skin problems. Eczema is caused by vitamin A deficiency, which causes dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. Many clinical studies have shown that alitretinoin, a prescription with high vitamin A activity, is very effective against eczema. Note that dry and itchy skin has many causes, but chronic vitamin A deficiency could be the reason.

Dry eyes

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Eye problems remain the most well-known issues related to vitamin A deficiency. In some extreme cases, not getting enough vitamin A can cause permanent blindness or dying corneas. Dry eyes is the term used to describe the inability to produce tears. This is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. Young children who have diets lacking in vitamin A are at risk of having dry eyes. Supplementing with vitamin A can improve the condition within some months, depending on its severity. 

Night blindness

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Severe cases of vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness. Several observational types of research have shown the high prevalence of night blindness in developing nations. In one study, women with night blindness were given vitamin A supplements in the form of food, and there was a very significant positive change. Both forms of vitamin A improved their conditions. The women’s adaptability to darkness increased by 50% in a few weeks. 

Infertility and trouble conceiving

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As said before, vitamin A is essential for reproduction in both males and females and babies’ proper development. If you’re encountering problems conceiving, you’re likely suffering from a lack of vitamin A, but just like any situation, contact your doctor first. Lack of vitamin A can easily cause infertility in men and women. Some lab studies showed that female rats with low vitamin A were unable to conceive, and if they did, they suffered from several birth defects. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress in the body, which can cause infertility. This deficiency is also associated with miscarriage. Another study that analyzed the blood levels of different nutrients in women who had recurrent miscarriages found that they had low levels of vitamin A. 

Delayed growth

Young children who don’t get enough vitamin A may experience stunted growth. This happens because vitamin A is responsible for the proper growth and development of the body. Several kinds of research have backed this claim. Vitamin A supplements, alone or with other nutrients, can improve growth. Most of these researches were done in developing countries. Another study in Indonesia showed that children who were fed vitamin A supplements grew significantly over four months. They recorded increased height, among other effects of vitamin A. A review of these studies shows that supplementing with vitamin A in combination with other nutrients may significantly impact growth compared to supplementing with vitamin A alone.

Throat and chest infection

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Recurrent infections, especially in the throat or chest, are likely to be caused by a lack of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps with respiratory tract infections, but there’s not enough research to back up this claim. A study showed that underweight children who took 10,000 IU of vitamin A per week had fewer respiratory infections than those in the placebo group. Another review showed that vitamin A supplements might decrease the risk of developing throat and chest infections by 8%. Furthermore, in reference to one study in older adults, high blood levels of the provitamin A carotenoid beta-carotene may protect against respiratory infections. 

Poor wound healing

Wounds that don’t heal after an injury or after surgery can be caused by a lack of vitamin A. This occurs because vitamin A helps in the production of collagen, an essential element for skin health. Deficiency of vitamin A reduces the production of this compound, thereby affecting the skin’s healing power. Open wounds could lead to infections, which could become infected if left untreated. 


Note that all the effects of vitamin A deficiency listed above are treatable with vitamin A supplements, but an overdose of those supplements could be hazardous. Hypervitaminosis A, or vitamin A toxicity, typically results from taking high-dose supplements over long periods. People rarely get too much vitamin A from diet alone. Excess vitamin A is stored in the liver and can lead to toxicity over time, which could damage the liver and other vital organs. 

Always check on your doctor or physician before using vitamin A supplements

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